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Norwegian Rygja sheep, (20)

Rygja sheepThe Norwegian Rygja sheep is originally from Rogaland in south vest Norway. In the 18th century the local Norwegian Spael sheep was crossed with several imported breeds, such as Merino, South Down, and Leicester. After 1860 mostly Cheviot- and Sutherland sheep were imported and had also an influence. In later years further crossings have been made with Texel-, Finnsheep, Dala- and Steigar sheep. The Rygja sheep are now spread throughout Norway and are bred for both meat and wool production. The sheep are white, long-tailed and both rams and ewes are polled The wool is uniform with mean fibre diameter of 37.4 microns. The mean greasy fleece weight is around 3.5 kg. The breed is known for producing shiny wool, almost free of medullated fibres but  with less bulk than the wool of Dala and Steigar sheep. The wool is used for many purposes, mostly various types of yarns, and pelts are used for nappa-leather and woolskins. The wither height of adult rams is 76 cm. Adult live weight is 110 kg for rams and 75-80 kg for ewes. The mean litter size is 1.89 lambs at birth and 1.52 weaned. Mean carcass weight of lambs is 18.3 kg when slaughtered at the age of 6 months. The largest proportion of carcasses falls into grade O in the EUROP classification system.
The number of breeding ewes is around 20,000.  The number of purebred Rygja sheep is decreasing  as it is now (since 2001) part of the combined breeding population of Norwegian white sheep together with the other long tailed sheep breeds, mostly Steigar and Dala sheep.

Local name: Rygjasau
References: Mona G. Hollet, Norsk landbruksmuseum, Pb 5104, 1432 Ås Norway.
Photographs: Vera Gjersoe, Husdyrfoto, Voss.






List of North European sheep breeds:
Ålands sheep
Cheviot sheep
Dala sheep
Dala fur sheep
Danish landrace sheep
Estonian Ruhnu sheep
Faeroe sheep
Fine wool sheep Finnish Grey landrace

Forest sheep
Fuglestad sheep
Gotland sheep
Greenland sheep Grey Troender sheep
Gute sheep
Icelandic leader sheep
Icelandic sheep
Latvian darkheaded sheep
Lithuanian coarse wool sheep
Norwegian feral sheep  

Norwegian Old Spael sheep
Norwegian Spael sheep
Romanov sheep
Roslags sheep Russian Viena sheep
Rya sheep
-Rygja sheep
Steigar sheep
Texel sheep
White faced Marsh


Created by ThEP and EE Edited by Emma Eythorsdottir for the North SheD group.
Agricultural Research Institute of Iceland.