Number of Sheep in Iceland Decreases Considerably Skip to content
Icelandic sheep
Photo: Sauðfjárbúið að Hesti í Borgarfirði Hestur Kindur Kind Sauðfé Sauðfjárbúið að Hesti í Borgarfirði Hestur Kindur Kind Sauðfé.

Number of Sheep in Iceland Decreases Considerably

The number of sheep in Iceland has decreased by around 42,000 since 2016, when the animals numbered 474,704, RÚV reports. In 2018 there were just 432,740 in the country, the lowest number recorded since 1948. Guðfinna Harpa Árnadóttir, chairperson of the Association of Icelandic Sheep Farmers, says the decrease can be largely attributed to the low price of sheep products.

“Farm operation doesn’t balance out, and people have to reduce the number of sheep because of that,” Guðfinna stated. She says the cost of production is much higher than what sheep farmers get paid for their products, and farm incomes have been decreasing. In 2016, product prices fell by 10%, falling by another 35% in 2017. Prices have been fairly steady since that year.

Sheep numbers peaked in 1978 at over 890,000. Guðfinna says sheep numbers are likely to keep falling in the country unless the price of sheep products rises.

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