150 Cattle Taken by Authorities in Abuse Case

icelandic cows

150 cattle have been removed from a farm in Borgarfjörður by the authorities on November 14 and 15. After repeated demands by authorities that their owner improve their conditions, authorities have finally been forced to confiscate the cattle after it became clear the farmer in question would not cooperate.

Both police officers and representatives from MAST, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority, were at the scene, reports RÚV.

Read more: Further Animal Abuse in Borgarfjörður

The owner in question is said to have a long history of mistreating his animals. Sheep and horses have been previously taken from the farmer to be slaughtered, as they were too maltreated to be rescued.

Some cattle confiscated in the latest episode will likewise be slaughtered, but many of the cows will be allowed to live and given new homes.

Ellen Ruth Ingimundsdóttir, district veterinarian for Southwest Iceland, stated that such cases are very difficult for all involved: “It’s a long and difficult story. We decided that it was no longer possible to give deadlines that weren’t met […] We don’t take animals from people just because we want to. We need to follow the law and we need to do this in consultation with locals so that it doesn’t hurt the animals. That’s why it has also taken a long time.”

Ellen additionally thanked those farmers who will be receiving the remaining cows, which are headed to barns with better pasture and conditions.


Iceland Farmers Try Angus Beef Production

aberdeen angus cow

A six-month old Aberdeen angus calf born through surrogacy in Iceland will be used as a breeding animal in Kjósarhreppur near Reykjavík. The embryo was transported from Stóra-Ármót agricultural research centre and implanted in a surrogate cow of the Icelandic breed. Sveinn Sigurmundsson, CEO of the Agricultural Association of South Iceland (Búnaðarsamband Suðurlands) says breeding Aberdeen angus cattle will make Icelandic beef production more competitive.

“The ideology of this is to have a herd of purebred Aberdeen angus cows and then we can import genetic material from Norway, the best available at any given time, and thus get access to the Norwegian breeding activities,” Sveinn explained to RÚV, adding that the Aberdeen angus breed has come to stay.

Around ten calves have been born through the same process as the Kjósarhreppur calf in Iceland. Embryos are imported to the Stóra-Ármót agricultural research centre, which has a special licence to breed Aberdeen angus cattle.

Iceland has its own unique breed of cows, but Sveinn says the expansion of this new breed does not put Icelandic cows at risk. Though some farmers may experiment with crossbreeding for beef production, they would not do so for dairy cows as the Aberdeen angus breed produces much less milk than the Icelandic breed.

Number of Sheep in Iceland Hits 40-Year Low

Icelandic sheep

There are fewer sheep in Iceland now than there have been for 40 years, Bændablaðið reports.

At the end of 2019, there were a total of 415,949 sheep in the country and 1,471 goats. By contrast, at the end of 1980, there were 50.3% more sheep in Iceland, or 827,927. At the end of 1985, there were 709,257. By 2000, that number had dropped to 465,777 but there was a small increase by 2010 when there were 479,841 sheep and then another small jump in 2014 when there were 486,598. After that, the total stock continued to steadily drop until this year’s 40-year low.

Stocks have decreased all over Iceland and there are some regions where sheep farming has disappeared entirely. Northwest Iceland, including the West Fjords, currently maintains the most robust sheep numbers and farming in the country, with 102,175 sheep. Three regions are relatively even for the next highest number of sheep: Northeast Iceland (68,789), East Iceland (65,753), and South Iceland (64,931). The Southwest of Iceland has considerably fewer sheep: 2,216.

Meanwhile, South Iceland has the highest prevalence of cattle farmers and cattle with 31,712 animals as of 2019. The next highest number of cattle are found in Northeast Iceland (18,025), followed by Northwest Iceland (14,138), and West Iceland (12,042). East Iceland and Southwest Iceland have the lowest number of cattle: 4,653 and 1,302 respectively.

The data was taken from fall agricultural statistics; no explanation was provided for why the number of sheep in Iceland has dropped so precipitously.