Herd of Goats Slaughtered, Scientists Concerned Skip to content

Herd of Goats Slaughtered, Scientists Concerned

About 40 animals from one of Iceland’s largest goat herds will be slaughtered today. Scientists worry that genetic diversity, important for sustaining the unique Icelandic goat stock, which is on the brink of extinction, will be lost.

Like most farm animals in Iceland, the Icelandic goat stock is a special Nordic breed, which has been isolated in Iceland since the settlement in the 9th century A.D.

“I’ve had the goats for more than 30 years,” goat farmer Ásdís Sveinbjörnsdóttir from Hofsós, northwest Iceland, told Morgunbladid. “But this is just what life is like.”

Sveinbjörnsdóttir lost the facilities where she kept her goats, forcing her to make this move. “I’m going to try and keep ten or 11 [out of 55] if I find new facilities, which is better than nothing.”

There are little over 400 goats in Iceland and Sveinbjörnsdóttir’s herd counted for 13 percent of the entire goat stock.

The Goat Breeding Society in Iceland, the Agricultural University of Iceland and the Agriculture Genetic Diversity Committee tried to save the goats and had found a farmer in Skagafjördur prepared to take ten animals, but the district veterinarian did not permit the transport due to risk of scrapie infection, a fatal sheep and goat disease.

Birna K. Baldursdóttir, who is studying genetic diversity in the Icelandic goat stock in relation to her Masters Course in genetics at the Agricultural University, will take biological specimens from the goats that will be slaughtered today.

Baldursdóttir is hoping to be able to create a strategy on how genetic diversity in the Icelandic goat stock can be maintained through breeding.

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