A Brief History of Goats in Iceland

It’s believed that goats were first brought to Iceland around 1100 years ago with the Norwegian settlers that arrived on its shores. Oddly enough, there’s no historical evidence of any other goats being imported to Iceland since that time, so all the goats on the island are descendants of those first hearty breads. While cattle and sheep were considered of great importance and economic value, the goats were largely considered unimportant. As a result, the few flocks were highly isolated and the goats of today tend to be highly inbred.  During the 1960s it was estimated there were less than 100 goats left on the island, and so conservation efforts were made to help save the species. Today the population is fairly stable, and efforts are being made to help prevent more inbreeding and to market the fleece, meat, and milk so raising goats might be a bit more lucrative. In 1986, a few goats were sent to Scotland as part of a cashmere breeding program, and it was discovered that the goats produced high-quality cashmere, and some have even been crossbread with the Scottish Cashmere goat. 

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