Finn-Arne Haugen

Head of Department

(+47) 993 88 577


Visiting address
Holtvegen 66, 9016 Tromsø


Only approximately 2% of the land area in Northern Norway is suitable for agricultural purposes. The short growing season and cold climate impose limitations for what can be produced. Agriculture still takes place here, with forage crops for livestock being the most important. On free rangeland areas, including both semi-natural and natural habitats, livestock grazing is common. The biomass production on some of these rangelands is presumed to be high, although little is known about the actual fodder potential. In 2022 a preliminary study was performed to determine abundance and variety of wild pasture plants, dry matter yield (DM) and feed quality in the (presumed) highest yielding Vegetation types. Results showed an average of 1520 kg DM ha–1 in spring and 5380 kg DM ha–1 in autumn. Early season feed quality was high, but with rapidly decreasing trends. The number of pasture plants was also high. Our results show that in sub-arctic Northern Norway grazing animals can harvest substantial amounts of ‘free’ fodder of good quality, yet the official statistics show that only 14% of this resource is utilised. Continuous grazing is needed to maintain production and fodder quality in these areas.

To document


The Norwegian sheep industry is based on utilization of “free” rangeland pasture resources. Use of mountain pastures is dominating, with about two million sheep grazing these pastures during summer. Regional challenges related to e.g., loss of sheep to large carnivores make farmers think differently. The Norwegian coastline is among the longest globally and is scattered with islets and islands. Alone along the coast of Nordland county, it is estimated more than 14,000 islands. Use of islands for summer pasture is an alternative but there is a limited knowledge about such a management system. In this study, we examined lambs' average daily gain on island pastures at the coast of Norway. In total 230 lambs on three islands (Sandvær, Sjonøya, and Buøya), with varying pasture quality and stocking rate, for 3 years (2012, 2013, and 2014). At Sandvær as much as 92% of the island was characterized as high nutritional value while at Sjonøya and Buøya only 15%, was characterized high nutritional value. We found an average daily lamb growth rate of 0.320 kg d−1. Lambs on Sandvær had a higher daily gain (P < 0.05) than those on Sjonøya and Buøya, and lambs' average daily gain was significantly lower (P < 0.05) in 2013 compared to 2012 and 2014. We conclude that with a dynamic and adaptive management strategy there is a potential to utilize islands for sheep grazing during summer.