Icelandic Sheep are one of the world’s oldest and purest breeds of sheep. They are direct descendants of the sheep brought to the island by the early Viking settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries. Throughout its 1100 year history they have been treasured for their meat, fibre and milk.
The Icelandic sheep is a northern European, short-tailed breed, which exhibits a fluke-shaped, naturally short tail. The fleece is unique in having two layers; the longer, silky tog layer, and a very fine, soft thel layer. The combination of these layers keep the sheep warm throughout the long, harsh Icelandic winters.
A gene has been found in the Icelandic breed that causes multiple births of triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets and even sextuplets, if the ewe carries two copies of the gene. One copy of the gene causes a milder increase in fertility, resulting primarily in a higher rate of triplets. The Thoka gene, as it is called, is named after the first ewe known to carry it.