The Icelandic goat is one of the oldest and purest of European goat breeds, but also very rare. This Nordic breed arrived in Iceland in around 874 AD, brought by the first settlers who came to the island from Norway. Traditionally farmed across the country, as documented by historical artifacts dating back to the 18th century, the animals are small, with females varying in weight from 35 to 50 kilos and males from 60 to 75 kilos. The height can vary from 65 to 70 centimeters for the females and 75 to 80 centimeters for the males. The horns are short and curve backwards. The goats produce excellent meat and milk and its coat can also be used to obtain a prized cashmere. Their color varies, with around 20% white and the remaining 80% piebald, beige or gray.
The goats are fed grass and hay produced by the farm. Only during the toughest parts of the year is this diet supplemented with other feed, sometimes even with salted fish (like herring), a historic practice dating back to when Iceland was first settled. As soon as the weather permits, towards the end of April or early May, they are put out, and return to the stables when it starts to get cold (end of September) or as soon as any snow falls.
Icelandic goat meat is a traditional ingredient in soups of meat, potatoes and turnips, flavored with wild herbs.
Only a few farmers, mostly working on a very small scale, still choose to rear this bread and sell its meat, keeping tradition alive despite the scant financial returns. The meat, though very lean and flavorful, has a lower yield than other goat breeds, and the processing of Icelandic goat cashmere has almost disappeared. And the tradition of producing cheeses, mostly fresh like skyr, was abandoned when a large cooperative began collecting milk from across the country in order to process it in a centralized way using industrial methods.
The Presidium unites eight farmers, members of the Icelandic Goat Breeders Association, which, since 1991, has been supporting the increase of the Icelandic goat population, encouraging the revival of goat’s cheese production and helping the farmers to market the goat meat and wool.
The goat breeders have been only recently recognized as part of the larger Farmer's Association and have now access to subsidies and funding in the same way as the sheep breeders Additionally, the Icelandic food research and development institute (Matís) has expressed its willingness to work with the farmers and provide technical assistance for the study and development of new processed products.
Jóhanna B. Thorvaldsdottir
tel. +354 8452331
Sif Matthíasdóttir – Fed. of Icelandic Goat Breeders
tel. +354 8632429
tel. +354 8981599
tel. +354 8971796
Ágúst Óli Leifsson & Íris
760 - Breiðdalsvík
tel. +354 4366788
560 - Varmahlíð
tel. +354 4538883
551 – Sauðárkróki
tel. +354 8936231
Geitfjárræktarfélag Íslands (Icelandic Goat Breeders Association)
Tel. + 354 8981124