Dreki and Mávur Win Big at Ram Awards

Dreki sheep

Dreki from Hrifla farm (above) and Mávur from Mávahlíð farm are the winners of the annual sheep breeding awards. The choice rams were awarded the coveted prizes for “best breeding ram” and “best lamb father” respectively. While many of Mávur’s offspring have been lucky enough to inherit his snow-white woollen coat, Dreki boasts over 855 female and 340 male offspring around the country.

The prizes, awarded by Iceland’s sheep breeding centres, were presented to the rams’ owners at a sheep farming conference held in Reykjavík on March 1. Breeding centres around Iceland provide farmers with choice rams for hire to mate with their ewes. If their ewes are not fond of travel, farmers can also choose breeding rams from a registry and have their sperm delivered.

Mávur from Mávahlíð.

“Mávur’s parents mothers trace their origins to the powerful herd that has been in Mávahlíð for decades,” the jury’s comment reads. “Mávur has been in use for two winters at the centres and both years has been among the rams farmers most want to use. Mávur’s offspring is extremely uniform and combine good build, moderate fat, and good looks extremely well. Very many of them have inherited the pure white and rich wool of their father.”

Dreki, whose name means Dragon in Icelandic, is not the first of his line to be awarded for his contribution to breeding: his father Grábotni and maternal grandfather Borði are both prize-winners. “[Dreki] was immediately well-received by farmers across the country and has always been among the most-used breeding centre rams for the four winters he has served,” the jury’s comment states. “Dreki’s offspring are always well-developed, with a long torso and thick back muscles, good thighs and moderate fat.” The jury adds: “Derki’s daughters are more than moderately fertile but their strength lies particularly in great milk.” Two of Dreki’s sons are also sought-after in breeding centres around the country.

Hopefully Dreki and Mávur are enjoying their status to the fullest, as rams can only receive each honour once.

“If you’re brave enough to touch a sheep, you can compete”

The 16th annual Ram Inspecting Competition took place last weekend at the Sheep Farming Museum in the Westfjords, RÚV reports. The roughly 50 competitors were separated into two categories: experienced ram inspectors and “inexperienced and scared” ram inspectors. Ragnar Bragason from Heydalsá emerged as the Icelandic champion.

But what exatly is ram inspecting? Called hrútaþukl in Icelandic, the practice is one of the ways farmers determine which rams to use for breeding in the coming winter. Hrútaþukl essentially consists in a hands-on inspection of rams to assess their physical prowess.

At the Ram Inspecting Competition, a jury selected four rams and assigned them points based on factors like leg length and muscle size. Competitors then assessed the rams according to a system used by farmers, aiming to reach the same conclusion as the jury. Competitors in the inexperienced group simply had to rank the animals.

The competition is open to all, said jury member Sigríður Ólafsdóttir. “If you’re brave enough to touch a sheep, you can compete.” Sigríður said competition was close in the inexperienced group, as many competitors ranked the rams in the correct order. The tied competitors then had to explain their decision and were judged both on their reasoning and how entertaining their explanations were. Sigríður recounted that one year, a competitor won the inexperienced group without touching a single ram. He ranked the animals in the correct order, then wrote and recited an ode to each one.