It all started in Sweden.
It was just before Christmas 2010 and I was serving as Vice Preisdent of the Swedish Sheep Breeders Association. I got a letter in my hand from Mrs Carol Ronan, Gotland sheep breeder in Oregon on the american west coast. She asked if we could help her and other american breeders to import Swedish genetics to USA.
Within a year we had collected semen eligible for export from Swedish Gotlands and rams were successfully tested, straws frozen and import protocols were in place. It was a start from zero, we had the best sheep in the world of this breed (native to Sweden) but no existing infrastructure for semen collection and export.
It was a feeling of being a settler in a foreign country, everything had to be built from start to make us able to export.
The first frozen semen from Swedish Gotland rams successfully arrived to USA 2011.
Ervalla Gotland Sheep
We farmed 1200 acres for hay production and pasture based breeding of cattle and sheep . Our sheep operations started with 500 dorset, texels and finnsheep ewes for meat production but after a couple of years with Gotlands we decided to focus 100% on Gotlands. It was a fact based decision, Gotlands were the only sheep who could compete with our Angus/Limousine cattle in return per farmed acre. Gotlands unique wool and the pelts produced from market lambs made these ewes return 3x compared to the meat sheep.
Sweden use breed specific estimated breeding values (EBV) for comparison of the genetic capacity of individual sheep across flocks. This system made it possible for us to find the absolute best rams from other Gotland flocks and use them in our breeding programme.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to buy all ewes from
Imnas Farm, Jamtland in northern Sweden when the owner Mrs Starkenberg retired after many years of sheep breeding. A few years later the one in a lifetime opportunity crossed our path, 300 ewes and 400 lambs from Oppeby Estate, Nykoping south of Stockholm became ours when the owner decided to sell all sheep. The owners, Mr & Mrs Lord had built their flock with ewes from the best Gotland breeders in Sweden.
Our flock was built in a beautiful country far north with midnight sun and extreme grass growth summer time combined with cold and snowy winters. Our sheep are the result of determined focus on growth, body conformation, meat yield and wool quality for many generations. Ervalla Gotlands should be able to perform and give good returns in both large and small flocks. While the silvergrey wool is the key characteristic of the breed we are also well aware of the need for careful monitoring of all traits to continue breeding sheep suitable for large flock operations.
The blood lines from Sindarve, Nors, Avan, Gannarve, Hultet, Enge, Ansta & Esta
have been key for the development of our flock. We have had the opportunity to use rams ranked among the top 10 best Gotlands in Sweden for meat, growth, fertility and wool traits to reach the standard we have today. More about our sheep - see " Our Genetics".
Our Gotlands were evaluated yearly by Mrs Barbro Nord. Barbro has almost 50 years of experience breeding Gotlands, being a national judge and she is also a fiber artist
working with Gotland pelts.