NSD homepage
Nordic Gene Bank
Origin and diversity of North European sheep breeds
Map of sheep breeds origin
Genetic analyzes History
Relevant links

Norwegian Spael sheep, (22)

Spael sheepThe Spael sheep is named after the short, nearly wool-less tail (spælen). The breed originates from the old Norwegian landrace of sheep. Around 1900 there were only few animals left of the breed due to the widespread crossbreeding with imported breeds throughout the country. Two breeding stations were established in 1912 to prevent the extinction of breed. These efforts were successful and the breed increased in numbers due to distribution of breeding animals from the stations. The breed is hardy with good flocking instincts. The ewes lamb easily and are good mothers.  Icelandic sheep were crossed into the Spael sheep throught semen import in the 1960's and 1970's.  This made the Spael sheep considerably heavier in a few years, but had  negative influence on the wool quality. At the same time both Finnsheep and Faeroe Island sheep were also used in the breeding of Spael sheep. The sheep are most commonly white, but there are also black, brown, grey and blue-grey animals and various forms of piebald are found. Most animals are polled, with about 10 % occurrence of horned in both sexes. The wool is double coated, with mean fibre diameter 31.5 micron of underwool and 57.1 micron of outer hair. The wool is used for many different products and woolskins and nappa leather are made out of the pelts. Adult wither height of rams is 90 cm and live weight of ewes is 65-70 kg. The mean litter size is 1.87 lambs born and 1.49 weaned. Mean carcass weight of lambs is 17.1 kg when slaughtered at the age of 6 months. The carcasses fall mainly into grades O and P in the EUROP classification system. The population is stable around 53,000 breeding ewes, most of them bred pure.

Local name: Spælsau
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.