The breed was first established on the Swedish island of Gotland by the Vikings with Karakul and Romanov sheep brought baCharles - Gotland Sheepck from expeditions deep into Russia and crossed with the native landrace sheep. The Vikings were great seafarers as well as sheep farmers and took these animals on their voyages to provide meat and skins along the route.

The Gotland Pelt sheep or modern Gotland has been developed in Sweden since the 1920s through controlled breeding and intensive selection producing a true multipurpose long wool sheep, yielding well-flavored close-grained meat, furskins and soft, silky, lustrous fleece.

Introduction to the U.S.

In 2003, the process of laparoscopic artificial insemination was carried out for the first time for the Gotland sheep in the U.S. Interest has been quick as breeders discover the beautiful, lustrous fleece, and the ease of care of a medium-sized sheep.

Gotland WoolGotlands Find a Niche

As well as producing furskins and beautiful fleeces for spinning or felting, Gotlands are easy to lamb, prolific, milky and very motherly. Their lambs are active and fast growing from birth. These qualities, together with their hardy and adaptive nature, also make the Gotland half-bred ewe suitable for extensive rough grazing commercial systems.

Breed description

Fine-boned and medium size, with a hornless black head, Gotlands sometimes have white markings. They feature free form wool, bold eyes, and alert medium sized ears with a small neat muzzle, even jaw and teeth set squarely on the pad. They have a slender neck and shoulders set smoothly into a level back with generous length, good depth and reasonable breadth of body, and slender back legs, well spaced and upright with a small hair-tipped tail. Dense, long, lustrous grey fleece, occasionally black, with a clearly defined even curl and staple, soft to touch. Gotlands also have a calm and friendly disposition.

River Bend Gotlands FarmCharacteristics

Gotlands are a bright, active, and friendly sheep full of curiosity. Ewes generally weigh from 120-155 kg. Rams are heavier, weighing in at 165-190 kg. Lambs are born with lush black birth coat and are very active and quick to suckle. They make rapid summer growth: 30-50 kg at 6-7 months old, dependent on litter size.