Our colourful Icelandic cows.
|The icelandic cow is an ancient breed, rather small but comes in all sorts of colors. The first cows came to iceland with the settlers, before year 1000 AD, and ever since there has been little or no import of dairy cows.
This breed, because of its purity and isolation, is unique in the world.This breed is the only breed of dairy-cows in Iceland, and because of the import-ban we are free from most of the diseases so frequent in many countries.
They use feed very efficiently, which is good in a country where other feed than grass-hay is expensive. Usually they are only fed grass-hay, and less than 4 kg (8 pounds) of cereals per day (usually a concentrate-mix with minerals in it).
Most farms in Iceland have tie-stalls, but milking-parlours are becoming more frequent. The summer is short here, and the cows have to be in the barns from the beginning of october to the beginning of june, at least here in the northern part of the country (so they are housed 8 months per year).
The pasture is mostly timothy and other kinds of grass. Often cabbage, ryegrass, turnibs, barley or oats are grown to prolong the growing season. Then the cows can eat this in september, when grass has stopped growing. It is most common to harvest hay in plastic-wrapped roler-bales here, or dry hay bales, so usually the hay here has at leat 50 % dry matter.
The icelandic cows are healthy, often they are in full milk production at the age of 9. 95 % of the icelandic cows are born without horns.
The icelandic cow is a dairy-cow, and as a meat-producer it is light, usually 380-450 kg (760-900 lbs). The average yield is near 4500 kg per year (9000 lbs) but individuals can milk up to 11.000 kg (22.000 lbs) per year. In spite of being small, they have good, deep bodies, and a large measure around the barrel, so they can eat a lot of hay. Most icelandic cows have naturally no horns, but a small percentage (3-5%) are born with the genetics for growing horns. They are not docked, but this genetical tendency is being worked against by selecting only horn-less bulls as insemination bulls. All dairy-cows in Iceland have individual names.
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