Gotland Breed Standard
Swedish Breed Standard & Selection
The Swedish breed standard is used in our flock as the minimum standard for selection of breeding rams and ewes.
For breeders new to Gotlands we cannot stress the importance of 110 days lamb evaluation versus the breed standard enough!
Using the original standard and understanding Gotland wool scoring parameters and how to identify different qualities is the key for maintaining a flock of Swedish Gotlands. Evaluation and recording is a must if development of specific traits should happen in your flock. Use of Estimated Breeding Values to compare animals within and across flocks is good, but live sheep scoring must be performed in a consistent way to give accurate input for comparative indexes.
Swedish Breed Standard
The Gotland sheep originates from a native landrace sheep on the island of Gotland. Through selection and controlled breeding for size, wool and pelt quality, started in the 1920’s, the Gotland sheep has developed to a multipurpose sheep. The breed is yielding both good flavoured meat and high quality pelts. The Gotland sheep is a medium sized sheep, well adapted to graze also extensive pastures. The breed is common not only on Gotland but also on the mainland of Sweden.
The Gotland sheep are grey. The heads and bones are black, free from wool, sometimes with white markings. Large white markings are not desired. The tail is short, free from wool at the tip. Gotlands are fine-boned with a graceful head. Both rams and ewes are polled. Ewes generally weigh from 55 to 90 kg (120-200 lb). Rams are heavier, weighing from 80 to 120 kg (175-265 lb).
Gotlands are active and friendly sheep, easy to tame. Grazing Gotlands are often more spread out on pastures than other breeds. They still have a pronounced flock instinct and work well with sheep dogs.
The ewes are easy to lamb, prolific, and very motherly. From two years of age they normally give birth to twins and triplets are not uncommon. The lambs are born black but gradually change to grey of different shades throughout summer. Characteristic for the Gotlands is the long, lustrous grey fleece, in shades of dark to light silver grey. The curls are clearly defined and very soft to the touch.
The fleece is fully developed at 4 to 5 months of age and then gives a beautiful pelts, useful in a number of ways. The meat is tender, tasty and lean. Gotland sheep ewes are good mothers, prolific, with a hardy and adaptive nature and the breed is well adapted to feed on marginal land such as unfertilized meadows and pastures in high hill country.
The pelts are tanned and shorn to different hair lengths and used mainly for handcraft, interior decoration and clothing.
High quality lambskins for the market should have
- Shades of grey from white to black, although the breeding goal is still from light to dark grey, with a clear tone (free from red, beige or brown)
- Curls of uniform size, ca 10–15 mm with a three-dimensional structure
- A silky and lustrous wool fibre
The carcass weight of the slaughtered lambs should be at minimum 18-22 kg and reached at the time when furskin quality is high, i.e 120-180 days (early fall in Sweden). The carcass should reach R- to R+ on the EUROP scale at a fat classification from 2- to 3.
Important notice (our comment):
Gotlands keep their perfect grey uniform color until late autumn, It is of highest importance market lambs are ready to market early, to ensure the value of the pelts and lambwool. Selection for growth rate and body conformation must be considered carefully for this reason, to minimize the overall need of supplemental feeding and thereby, increasing profitability in the breeding programme. Beautiful fleece and pelts in combination with good growth on pasture alone is dependent on genetic traits and good management practices.