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it or not – but we do have sheep farming in Greenland, and the first sheep did
obviously come to Greenland together with Erik
the Red back in the years 980 – 1000. Erik came from Iceland, and the sheep as
well I presume – but nobody really knows!
do we know?
According to sheep farmer and priest Jens Chemnitz he imported 9 ewes and 2 rams from the Faroe Islands in October 1906. In 1908 he imported 8 extra ewes also from the Faroe Islands.
these imports, Jens Chemnitz also received 5 ewes and a ram of “the Scottish
breed” – but these sheep did not do well during the winter and were
slaughtered before 1915, when Jens Chemnitz handed over all his 70 sheep to
Lindemann Walsøe. Walsøe is the person who in 1917 stared the sheep research
station in Qaqortoq – the station that now is still going strong as
“Upernaviarsuk – Agricultural School & Research Station” where
I am seated right now.
Lindemann Walsøe had spent almost a year in Iceland studying sheep management
and the slaughtering of lamb and sheep. He became so interested in the Icelandic
sheep breed, that he imported 175 sheep from Iceland in 1915.
this major import in 1915, Lindemann Walsøe as well imported some few rams from
Iceland in 1921 and 1934. The last import – up to now - was done in 1957 when
the successor of Lindemann Walsøe – Abel Kristiansen – imported a few rams
of “Norwegian sheep breed".
present Greenlandic sheep breed is a mix of all these imported breeds, but I
believe that Lindemann Walsøe only used rams of the Icelandic breed – and the
present sheep look very much as that breed.
sheep farming in Greenland today.
20,000 ewes and 55 farms (75 farmer families) are the main part of the
agriculture in Greenland today. (There is also one farm handling with reindeer
– remember that Greenland is the home country of Santa Claus). All the farms
are placed in the Southwest of Greenland.
mating period is from the beginning of December and lambing then in May and
early June. 2 – 7 days after lambing, the ewe and her lambs are sent up to
mountain grazing until the beginning of October. The fertility: 1 – 1,2 lambs
per ewelamb, and 1.75 – 1.90 lambs per adult ewe.
lambs are sent directly to slaughter from the mountain grazing. The carcass
weight is on average 17 kg for these 4 - 5 month old lams, and the farmer are
paid 45 – 47 Danish crooner per kg.
ewes and rams are housed from late October and we feed them as follows:
made from different types of grasses and green harvested rye – all balled in
round bales and wrapped in plastic.
pellets – imported from Denmark or Iceland.
barley grain – imported from Denmark.
– imported from Iceland.
of rapeseeds (70 % of the oil have been extracted) – imported from Denmark.
sugar beet pulp (6 mm pellets) – imported from Denmark.
/ mineral blocs - imported from
sheep lose 5 – 10 kg of live weight during the housing period, a necessity to
reduce the feed expenses.
shear the sheep in late March / early April – and unfortunately we use most of
the wool for top layer at stones in our closed trenches. The surplus is burned!!
The transport cost has up to now stopped all industrial use of the Greenlandic
wool. But the club of sheep farmers' wives have started a small – but very
nice - production of yarn, pullovers, felt shoes, felt hats etc. for sale to
is one of the 55 sheep farms in Greenland. We do have 320 sheep, 10 – 14 ha.
of arable land for silage production (5000 - 8000 kg 50% dry matter silage per
ha. per year) and approximately 40 square kilometres of mountain area for the
being a sheep farm we also do some research in grass growing, sheep feeding,
tree growing, potato growing etc., and we do have 2 – 5 agricultural students
at the Agricultural school.
you demand more information, you are welcome to contact me.