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“If you’re brave enough to touch a sheep, you can compete”

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“If you’re brave enough to touch a sheep, you can compete”

Ram Ranking Competition

Photo: Sauðfjársetur á Ströndum/Facebook.

The 16th annual Ram Inspecting Competition took place last weekend at the Sheep Farming Museum in the Westfjords, RÚV reports. The roughly 50 competitors were separated into two categories: experienced ram inspectors and “inexperienced and scared” ram inspectors. Ragnar Bragason from Heydalsá emerged as the Icelandic champion.

But what exatly is ram inspecting? Called hrútaþukl in Icelandic, the practice is one of the ways farmers determine which rams to use for breeding in the coming winter. Hrútaþukl essentially consists in a hands-on inspection of rams to assess their physical prowess.

At the Ram Inspecting Competition, a jury selected four rams and assigned them points based on factors like leg length and muscle size. Competitors then assessed the rams according to a system used by farmers, aiming to reach the same conclusion as the jury. Competitors in the inexperienced group simply had to rank the animals.

The competition is open to all, said jury member Sigríður Ólafsdóttir. “If you’re brave enough to touch a sheep, you can compete.” Sigríður said competition was close in the inexperienced group, as many competitors ranked the rams in the correct order. The tied competitors then had to explain their decision and were judged both on their reasoning and how entertaining their explanations were. Sigríður recounted that one year, a competitor won the inexperienced group without touching a single ram. He ranked the animals in the correct order, then wrote and recited an ode to each one.

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