Breed Type: Dual-Purpose Breed
Country of Origin: Sweden
Breed Association Websites:

Gotland sheep are a dual purpose breed that is renowned worldwide for their clear grey, lusciously soft, curly pelts.   Arising from the “Gute” landrace breed on Gotland Island, their ancestors were carried on Viking ships for food and the wool to make clothing and sails. Although some historians believe that the modern Gotland was created by crossing the Gute with imported Romanov and/or British longwool breeds, others, including long term breeders on Gotland island believe that the modern Gotland was created strictly by selection of the best sheep on the island.  This controversy will likely only be resolved once we have the genetic ability to discriminate the genetics of different breeds. 

Gotland sheep are beautiful, friendly, medium sized sheep.  They have no horns (though occasionally small scurs appear), have clean heads and legs and, like many of the northern breeds, have short, clean pointy tails.  They are fine boned, with slender legs and necks, alert faces and ears, and well defined belly for rumen space.  They do well on grass and are perfect sheep for small holdings and grass-fed lamb.

Their crowning feature, however, is their wool, which is long, lustrous and silky.  Although difficult for beginning spinners, the silkiness is prized by hand spinners worldwide.  It generates a spun fiber that, when knitted or woven, drapes like fine cloth.  Traditional Gotlands in Sweden range in color from clear pale silver to a dark grey that is almost black.  In the US, shepherds are bringing the Gotland to the country using imported Gotland semen and foundation ewes from the northern short-tail breeds or British longwool.  They have consequently taken the opportunity to incorporate some of the colors from the foundation breeds and, today, Gotlands in the US can be found in the traditional clear grey, as well white, black and moorit (an auburn color that ranges from fiery red to deep chestnut to pink champagne).  The wool itself has a loose curl that turns in three dimensions, and is typically in the medium micron range (30 plus minus), though lambs can be considerably finer.  The strength of the wool, coupled with its silkiness, creates a wonderful hand, with little of the “scratchiness” of some other longwool breeds.  

In Europe, Gotlands are mostly raised for their pelts.  Here in the US, the market tends, at the moment, to be for the wool.  There are two main lines of Gotland genetics available to US breeders: Gotlands from Sweden (either directly or via sheep imported in the last century to Great Britain), and Gotlands that were imported into New Zealand and raised there for about 40 years.  The Difference in the two is that the Swedish Gotlands have been selected for the characteristics that make superb pelts, whereas the New Zealand-raised Gotlands were selected more for handspinning wool (as handspinners in nearby Asian countries were their primary market).  Lambs of both lines have amazing wool.  As the sheep mature, however, their wool begins to differ.  The Swedish type Gotland ewe (the original!) grows a stronger, wool that stands up to the elements, whereas the NZ-derived Gotland keeps a softer wool, but loses a bit of its luster.  Some US breeders are working to combine these characteristics to generate an adult Gotland that maintains its soft wool and its luster. (For more information about Gotland wool, see the video at

There are currently two Gotland breed organizations in the US.  The Gotland Sheep Breeders of America, which was the earliest, recognizes Gotlands of different colors (grey, white, black and moorit) and also recognizes imported genetics from Sweden, Britain, and New Zealand.  The American Gotland Sheep Society, prioritizes the original Grey color of the Swedish-type Gotland, and recognizes only Swedish and British genetics. 

Breeders looking for a medium sized, calm, friendly, dual purpose animal with amazing fiber cannot go wrong with Gotland sheep!

This breed presented by

AmblingBrook Farm
Polly Matzinger
4810 Elmer Derr Rd
Frederick, MD 21703
(240) 444-2047

I thank Kim Goodling (wool video), Tranås Skinnberedning (lead picture), Lindholmen Farm (Gotland ewe and ram pictures), Pam Helton (White and Black Gotland pictures), Stéphanie Schiffgens (newborn lambs and “youngsters” pictures) ,  and Wendy Clauson-Schlereth (Moorit Gotland ewe picture) for their enthusiastic help with this display.

2023 Featured Breed: Jacob

Learn more about the Jacob breed and talk to JSBA members in the Breed Display Barn (Barn 7-8 on the map) while you are at the Festival.

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In case you missed our earlier announcement, we are now accepting orders for a second printing of large tote bags and moss green t-shirts at Orders will be accepted through COB on Wednesday, May 24th. After that time, the order will go to the printer. They have given us a turn around time of around 2 weeks to have the items printed. Once we have the shirts in hand, we will start shipping to fulfill the orders. Your credit card will not be charged until your order ships. Note: The "guesstimated" shipping fee that is computer generated by the online sales platform at the time of your order tends to run high. You will likely notice the actual charge when your order is shipped is considerably less. Store pickup at the Sheepman Supply showroom in Frederick, MD is also possible; put "store pick up" in special instructions when you check out and you won't be charged the shipping. #mdsw #mdsw2023 #festivalgear #celebrating50years ... See MoreSee Less
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Due to the overwhelming popularity of our 50th anniversary items, we are now accepting orders for a second printing of select items at The order period will run until COB on Wednesday, May 24, at which time we will send the order off to the screen printing company. The delivery time will run 2-4 weeks from that point. These second printing items are limited to the large boat tote bag and a short-sleeve t-shirt in Moss green. The shirts are a ComfortWash by Hanes garment-dyed t-shirts in 5.5 ounce, 100% ring-spun cotton and standard unisex sizing, sizes S to 3X. All sales on this second printing will be final (no returns or exchanges). There is also a small quantity of already-printed items available on a first-come, first- served basis until supplies are exhausted:Short-sleeve t-shirt in “Indigo Blue” – Small (16), Medium (14), Large (8), XL (6), 2X (4), 4X (4), 5X (2)Hooded long-sleeve t-shirt in “Saltwater” – Small (6), Medium (4), Large (4), XL (8)Large boat tote bags (8) – these are the same mentioned above“Peacock” blue backpack (13)“Red Rock” beach wash shoulder tote (6)Large posters (12)Small posters (7)These are the same items that were available online prior to the festival and were also sold at the festival. Pickup at Sheepman Supply in Frederick, MD is available. Put “Store Pick Up” in special instructions when you check out and you won’t be charged the shipping. Thank you for your patience while we worked out these details.#mdsw #mdsw2023 #celebrating50years #festivalgear ... See MoreSee Less
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