Nearly 460 foreign-born workers are currently employed in Iceland’s slaughterhouses during the main slaughtering season. The last slaughterhouse, Nordlenska in Hornafjördur, south Iceland, began the seasonal slaughtering on Wednesday.
Due to lack of available workers on the Icelandic employment market, slaughterhouse directors have turned to foreign labor. Foreign-born workers are now a majority in the country’s slaughterhouses, 460, compared to about 200 Icelanders, ruv.is reports.
Most of the workers come from Sweden and Poland, but some come from countries further away, even New Zealand. The Agricultural Authority of Iceland has also hired veterinarians from abroad to supervise the slaughtering.
Slaughterhouse directors estimate that about 540,000 sheep will be slaughtered this season, a slight increase from 2006. The slaughterhouse Kaupfélag Skagfirdinga in Saudárkrókur, north Iceland, and the SS slaughterhouse in Selfoss, south Iceland, accept the greatest number of animals, about 105,000 sheep each.
The slaughterhouse in Búdardalur, west Iceland, processes nearly 180 tons of singed sheep heads from animals slaughtered at Hvammstangi and Saudárkrókur. Part of the traditional delicacy is exported to the Faroe Islands.
The slaughtering seasons lasts for a few weeks, up to two months.