Icelandic Goat Saved from Extinction Skip to content

Icelandic Goat Saved from Extinction

The Icelandic goat stock, which is on the brink of extinction, currently counts 535 animals and has grown considerably in the past few years despite the number of goat farmers dropping. There were only around 400 goats in Iceland a few years ago.

Dr. Ólafur R. Dýrmundsson, National Adviser on Organic Farming and Land Use at the Farmers Association of Iceland, told Morgunbladid that this great increase in the number of Icelandic goats is caused by increased discussion on the uniqueness of the Icelandic goat and especially the work of the most active goat farmer in the country, Jóhanna B. Thorvaldsdóttir at Háafell in Hvítársída.

Thorvaldsdóttir’s farm is the only farm in Iceland which has more than 100 goats. The Icelandic goat stock will however still be considered in danger of extinction until the count is up to 1,000 animals in total.

There were few goats in Iceland in the 19th century, but they increased rapidly in the 20th century, totaling around 3,000 animals in the 1930s and 40s. At that point their numbers began decreasing because it was difficult to market goat products.

In the 1980s the Icelandic goat stock was used among three foreign species to breed the Scottish Cashmere Goat. Unlike most goats, the Icelandic goat has Cashmere-like wool.

Recently American farmers have expressed interest in the Icelandic goat to harness its milk and wool. The Icelandic sheep has already proven popular in the US where its milk is used to make cheese, a practice largely unheard of in Iceland.

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