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horizon for a few moments, then sets immediately for a long winters night.
  The seminar actually started at noon on Wednesday, November 19th with a sumptuous
lamb
dinner.  Then we listened to Dr. Olafsson as he went through the ancient attempts at AI (as
early as 1322 A.D.) and the progression of AI in the 20th century.  Some anatomy lessons
followed, then
instruction on the process of spermatogenesis (the creation of sperm cells) and some
causes of
temporary sterility in rams.  Hormone function and factors affecting the start of the
breeding season were discussed, as were factors which suppress oestrus in the ewes.  Dr.
Olafsson instructed
us in natural factors and practices which can be used to syncronize the ewes naturally
without hormones, the timing of insemination, and the instruments for the injection of
semen into the
Vaginal AI Trip, page 2
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ewe's vagina.
  After a short break, Gudmundur Johannesson
(Mundi) taught us how to evaluate our sheep,
how
a score is assigned to each important body
part, and what criteria are used to predict
carcass weight.  Mundi revealed that sires are
evaluated on
a national scale, which is possible since most
farms
keep excellent records, and the indexes for
meat
and fat grading are compiled nationally.
  On Thursday, the whole group of us travelled
to
the Stora Armott Farm and were taught how to measure the eye muscle thickness using an
ultrasound machine, how to measure the length of the front leg's metacarpal (canon) bone,
and
told that the two measurements are a predictor of the amount of meat there will be on the
carcass.  Those animals with lesser amounts of fat and more meat are those that would
possibly be selected as breeders, helping to improve the breed overall, and give the
consumer a better value for their money.  At Stora Armott we were given hands-on
experience on what excellence really "feels" like, as well as getting a start on learning how
to set up the semen straws in the syringes.
A superb ewe.            An excellent ewe.
An unimproved ewe.
An average ewe.
 I can't recall if it was on Wednesday or on
Thursday, the group piled into the rental cars and
headed to Reykjavik for a shopping trip, and a
meal of "the world's best hotdogs" as Stefania put
it.  Indeed, those hot dogs were the best I have
ever eaten in my life!  Made of lamb, you could
also have real bacon bits put on them, relish,
mustard, small crispy fried onion bits, and other
condiments.  Since I have dairy sensitivities,
Stefania told me I better ask for my hotdog
"without remeladi" just to be safe.  (I don't know
what it is, I just obeyed, but it looked similar to
tartar sauce.)
  Friday morning we were back at Stora Armott for
more instruction in the interpretation of the
various grading indexes, sheep breeding and
statistical
recording, I.D. numbering, and a sneak peek at the
new AI rams, (statistically in the classroom,)
finishing our classroom experience with further
practical training in the insemination of the ewes,  
and then went out "into the field" to see other
farms.
  Oddgeirsholar Farm was the first farm that we
saw with heated barns, kept to about 60 degrees
after the
fall shearing until the wool is long enough to allow
the sheep to take the cold.  The floors were made
of expanded metal which allowed the fecal
droppings to fall through the floor, to be cleaned
out in the spring by being liquified, then sprayed
on the fields.  The high
New rams at Southram Semen
Facility
quality of the ewes was obvious, both at Stora Armott, and Oddgeirsholar.  Obviously proper
culling, fast turnover of stock, and expert genetic selection yeilds results!  After
Oddgeirsholar, we headed over to the Southram semen station to see the rams on site, to
observe the harvesting of semen, and a little of the cooling-freezing procedure.  After
Southram, we removed all our Biosecurity gear, and headed off to Thingborg, a handcrafted
wool center.  An old friend to some of the group, we were met
by the friendly smile of Arnthrudur Saemundsdottir, or "Adda" to most of us.  Adda traveled
to the
Reinbeck Fair with the team from Iceland when Mundi came over to teach a seminar on sheep
evaluation and be a judge for our first National show in which the Icelandic was the featured
breed.
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