Icelandic goats are extremely rare animals. When Iceland was settled, some 1100 years ago, the first goats came to Iceland, most likely from Norway. Due to the prevalence of sheep farming in Iceland, the so-called “Settlement goat” almost went extinct in the late 1900’s. Only around 90 goats remained. The breed barely got back on track around the second world war, but nowadays it’s up to almost 1000 animals, whereas there are probably 800.000 sheep in the country. We hope you won’t hold it against them, but due to the isolation and almost-extinction, the Icelandic goat breed is very much inbred.
Why isn’t the Icelandic goat more popular?
We believe it comes down to money. Goat meat and goat milk products aren’t popular in Iceland. So, the farmers aren’t motivated to farm goats. While almost all parts of Icelandic sheep are used to the fullest; meat, wool, organs, etc., the same isn’t true for the goats. It will be interesting to see if goat products will become more popular in Iceland in the future and if its high-quality cashmere wool will be sold in considerable quantity.
Iceland’s goat savior
No, we’re not talking about the government, although the government gives a grant to goat farmers to ensure the survival of the species. There’s one woman in West Iceland, a farmer by the name of Jóhanna Bergmann Þorvaldsdóttir, who took it upon herself to save the Icelandic goat! She’s been breeding them at her farm, Háafell. Thanks to Jóhanna, the goat population is larger than before, and people are more aware of how important it is to save the species. A few farms outside of Iceland breed the Icelandic goat. So, hopefully, it´ll be an international sensation soon! Yes, wishful thinking.
As public awareness grows, visits to Háafall farms are getting increasingly popular among Icelandic families and tourists. We recommend that you drop in for a goat-tour! You´ll be among stars since some of the goats have been on Game of Thrones. Yes, dragons ate them, but still!