Gotland Sheep Characteristics, Weight, Wool & Meat Quality, Care

The breed was originally developed on the Swedish island of Gotland by the Vikings. It all started when the Vikings brought back Karakul and Romanov sheep from their Russia-based expeditions, as well as other sheep of mixed breeds, and crossbred them with the landrace sheep they already had on the island. The Vikings were excellent sailors as well as sheep farmers, taking these animals on their lengthy expeditions to provide food, milk, and fleece.

As a result, these Northern short-tailed sheep have distributed and given rise to related breeds such as Gute sheep, Icelandic, Finnsheep, Shetland, North Ronaldsay, and Manx. Gotland sheep with primordial horns (still referred to as Gute) can still be found on the island of Gotland nowadays.

In addition to generating fabulous fur skins and fleeces for spinning or felting, Gotlands are quick to lamb, prolific, milky, and have outstanding motherly skills. From the moment they are born, their lambs are energetic and grow rapidly. These advantages, together with their hardiness and adaptability, make the Gotland sheep ideal for large livestock setups that require extensive/rough grazing.

    Gotland Sheep Characteristics

    They have exquisite bone structure and are of moderate size. Blackhead without horns, often with white patterns and wool-free. Eyes that are bold and ears are prominent with moderate size. The muzzle is modest and tidy, with a uniform jaw and teeth positioned firmly on the pad. Thin neck and shoulders flow effortlessly into a flat back that is substantial in length, depth, and breadth. Legs are slim black, nicely spaced, and erect. Tail with a short hair tip. Grey fleece that is thick, long, and velvety, with flecks of black or white. Curls and staples are evenly formed and pleasant to the touch. 

    Gotland Sheep Characteristics, Weight, Wool & Meat Quality, Care

    Gotland Sheep Weight

    Ewes weigh approximately between 120 and 155 pounds. Rams are larger, weighing between 165 and 190 pounds. Lambs are born covered in a dense black wool coat and are energetic and rapid suckers. They grow quickly in the summer, reaching a weight of 66 to 110 pounds at 6 to 7 months old, depending on the litter size.

    Gotland Sheep Meat Quality

    The meat is soft, flavorful, and low in fat. Their meat is easy to digest and considered high-grade meat with naturally added flavors. Ewes of the Gotland sheep breed are exceptional mothers, productive, resilient, and adaptable, and the breed is well-tailored to eat on marginal land such as infertile meadows and pastures, as well as steep hill area.

    Gotland Sheep Wool 

    The wool is fine, long, silky, and dense, with a well-defined curl and staple, and it is soft to the touch. At 18 months of age, it is generally 29 to 34 microns in diameter, assessed midside at the final rib. Lamb wool has a micron density that ranges from low to medium.

    Gotland Sheep Care

    Gotland Sheep breed does not require any special care as it is very adaptable to environmental changes and able to feed to limited pasture. The only thing required in terms of care is keeping good hygiene of these animals, especially in commercial farmlands to perform at an optimum level.

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