Iceland has published an illustrated guide to the country's most eligible rams, ahead of the next breeding season.
The Ram Registry is an annual catalogue of rams available for breeding at insemination facilities in the south and west of the country, the Vísir online newspaper reports.
The registry is "one of the most eagerly-anticipated publications among Iceland's sheep farmers and enthusiasts", according to the Icelandic Agricultural Advisory Centre, and includes profiles of 44 rams, complete with colour photographs, pedigrees, breeding experience, wool quality, and projections for the number of lambs they can be expected to sire.
This year's 52-page catalogue hosts tried and tested rams as well as newcomers, and pays tribute to all those that died in the past year, the Iceland Review reports.
Lobbi, an experienced ram from Melhóll, is "grey and hornless, with a short head... a dapper ram with a calm manner", while new recruit Strumpur has fleece the "colour of Arctic fox... is aware of his environment, and knows exactly what's expected of him".
He was also chosen as the best-looking flock leader in Thistilfjördur last year.
The Registry has "acted as a matchmaking service for Icelandic sheep for 20 years", according to Vísir, which explains that one aim is to pass on the genes of "flock leaders" - a kind of ram that instinctively walks ahead of the herd and is accepted as chieftain by the other sheep.
"They usually have a sixth sense for the weather, and are known to anticipate storms by seeking shelter, prompting the rest of the herd to follow," Vísir says.
Gudmundur Jóhannesson, the editor of Ram Registry, says it is important to maintain the "usually very good selection of sires by combining experienced rams with highly promising youngsters at the start of their careers".
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Preparing rams for the breeding season is an important part of Iceland's rural life, and begins with Hrútathukl - the annual ram inspecting competition in August, when a team of enthusiasts goes toe-to-toe with experienced ram-handlers in assessing the potential sires' physical prowess.
Jury member Sigrídur Ólafsdóttir told the RÚV public broadcaster that this year's amateurs were no slouches, as they ranked the rams in the same order as the professionals, even though the sole criteria for entering the competition is "being brave enough to touch a sheep".
The latest Ram Registry is only available as a pdf file at the moment, but a print version will be available next week.
Reporting by Martin Morgan
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