Evaluation Page
   With the sheep industry being 25% of Iceland's economy, it is very important to continually
be upgrading the national flock.  The Icelanders have developed a highly accurate method of
evaluating their sheep, and almost every farm participates in keeping records.  These records
are compiled nationally, which aids in the search for the nation's finest rams destined to be the
new AI sires, as well as pinpointing the very best farms.        
    
     While in Iceland in 2003, a dozen people from 9 North American farms were trained in a new
method of vaginal artificial insemination, as well as how to interpret the various statistics in the
AI Sire Catalog,
and in the Icelander's method of taking measurements as part of the process of
evaluating their sheep.
ICELANDICS NORTH was priviledged to be one of those farms, and
with the arrival of a new, state-of-the-art ultrasound machine purchased by our veterinarian, we
are now able to take ALL the measurements that are used in the evaluation process.  Our vet
was very excited at the prospect of using his new machine on my sheep to measure the loin
eyemuscle and backfat, just like they do in Iceland.   I had not previously  been able to do the
complete regimen of measurements because there wasn't an ultrasound machine within 200
miles of me.  Now, with hard facts and actual ultrasound measurements, I can directly compare
my own sheep with those in Iceland.
 
Honestly, without this information and the training in how to take the various measurements,
one can only state their emotional
opinion as to how good their sheep are, and emotional
assessments quite frankly don't hold any water as far as I am concerned...there is the potential
for people to be cheated by some other breeder's overly optimistic assessment of the sheep they
are selling.  We all embrace our sheep in our hearts and love them dearly, so it is easy to
understand the bias of other shepherds, but when it comes to trying to improve your herd, this
subjective bias on the part of others can cost us an awful lot of money.  This bias to a large
degree can be avoided with the objective Icelandic system of evaluation.  
 
      When in attendance at the Vaginal AI Seminar in Iceland, we were not given the specific
criteria which would enable us to assign a score to each of the body parts of our animals, but
only how to take the various
measurements.   Being able to assign a score is not necessary in
comparing our own animals to those in the Sire Catalog.  The measurements along with being
taught  what the various body parts are supposed to "feel like" tell a complete enough story to
help you pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of each of your individual animals, and the
scores in the AI Sire Catalog tell you which of the sires would be most useful in compensating
for the weaknesses of that particular sheep.

Above each ram in the AI Catalog are two lines of information in tan boxes.  The top line of
boxes is the measurements and scoring of that rams various body parts at age 5 months, the
second line is his scoring at the age of 1 1/2 years.  I crunched the numbers of all the
horned
Icelandics in Iceland's 3 AI stations for the last 4 years, and came up with an average for them
all, which can serve as a standard for us North Americans to judge our own animals against,
once we know how to take the measurements.  The standard for the 1 1/2 yr. AI sires is
published here in
blue.  The standard for those sires when they were lambs at their 5 month
evaluation is in
red.  On the next page, my own animals' scores are in black.  (I have to confess I
was awfully pleased with the results!)
 
In the tan-colored scoring line above the sire's picture are a number of little boxes. After the box
with the year (Ar) of the sire's birth, there are 5 boxes of measurements.  They are labeled
"Pungi" (weight in kilograms {lbs. divided by 2.2} ), "Brjm" (chest circumference in cm's),
"Spjald" (back broadness in cm's), "Fotl" (metacarpal length),  and 3 measurements in one
oblong box, consisting of "Omv" (eyemuscle depth), "fita" (backfat thickness), and "lag"
(eyemuscle shape).  The 10 boxes
after those 5 are the scores for the various body parts, which
we won't get into except to say that a score of '8' means basically "it's there, it's acceptable, and
it's not defective."  A score of '9' means it's really good, '9.5' is great, and 10 is perfect...except
for the leg scoring, which is assessed a double score, i.e. '17' is very good,'18' is great, '19' is
fantastic, and '20' is perfect.
  Since we were taught how to measure but not how to score, we will concentrate only on the
measurements part of the line, the first 5 boxes after the "year"(Ar) box.  For the purpose of
this webpage, we will drop the "Ar" box, and just use the 5 measurement boxes.

The "standard" I came up with (the average measurements of all the HORNED 1 1/2 year old
AI sires over the last four years), was this:

Pungi        Brjm         Spjald               Fotl                Omv/       fita/        lag
(weight)     (chest)   (back broad)   (canon bone)     (eyemus.)/(backfat)/(eyemuscle shape)
86.06Kg     105.2cm     25.2cm           117.5mm            36mm /    5mm  /    4
(189.6lbs.)


The "standard" I calculated for the measurements of the AI sires as ramlambs when evaluated  
at 4 to 5 months of age was the following:


44.9Kg       82.5cm       19.8cm             110mm            27.6mm /   3mm  /    3.7
(98.9 lbs.)   (chest)  (back Broadness)  (Canon)        (eyemusc./ backfat/ eyemuscle shape)
(weight)


On the next page I will publish the measurements again, and then for your enjoyment I will  
compare the measurements of my own adults and lambs against these AI sire "standards."
HOME
Evaluation, page 2
Pricing Schedule
How Do Your Animals Compare?
Vaginal AI Trip to Iceland
Evaluation, page 3