Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why Gotland sheep?

Gotland sheep are relatively new comers to North America.  They originated in the Isle of Gotland (Off Sweden & Denmark's coasts).  They are hardy sheep, an excellent choice for new sheep breeders.  They have a fabulous steel grey fleece packed w/ curl, lustre and texture.  Their meat is lean and sweet.  They are easy lambers and excellent mothers!  Gotland sheep yield two fleeces per year.  Here at Lawrence Cottage we shear before lambing and again in the fall before breeding.  

Gotland sheep browse and graze, so they will indeed take care of the blackberry vines!  Gotland's have personality plus!  They are like a flock of puppy dogs.  They LOVE attention and will follow you where ever you go, with the hope of being scratched between the ears!  They are a calm and quite curious breed of sheep.  

Gotland fiber is curly and average growth rate is 1 inch per month.  It is known for its fabulous felting qualities.  Here at Lawrence Cottage we like to blend the Gotland lamb wool with our German Angora bunny fiber for a marvelously soft yarn.  
Gotland yarn is DURABLE!  It does not pill and the toe on your socks does not wear right through!

Gotland lamb wool is Oh So Soft! 

Lawrence Cottage's Effie 90% Registered Gotland Ewe lamb. June 2014 @ Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon

Single spun art yarn from Gotland Lamb by Staci H, knit by Gale J
Singles art yarn by Staci H, knit by Jeannie H

Gotland/angora 80/20 laceweight,knit by Gale J

Gotland / Angora 80/20 laceweight yarn milled by Creekside Fiber, Lebanon, OR

So you say you want a Gotland?
The American Gotland Sheep Society is a marvelous resource.  From Breed standard to breeders near you!

Here at Lawrence Cottage we started with one 50% American Gotland Sheep Society (AGSS) Recorded Gotland ewe, Lola.  Lola was from a Finn/Lincoln foundation and was a wonderful ewe.  Our second ewe was a 75% AGSS Registered Gotland ewe (finn foundation), named Emma.  From these two ewe sprang our flock!  Our first ram was named Glen Oak Gotland's KMAC.  KMAC was AGSS registered @ 87.5% Gotland. 

Lola 50% Gotland Ewe

Emma 75% Gotland Ewe

Gotland Lambs are adorable!

So why does it take so long to get a registered purebred Gotland you ask?
At the present time we do not have a ram on site.  That means that we have our ewes laprascopically artificially inseminated (L-AI) by Martin Dally of Super Sire Ltd.
Martin Dally & Co. L-AI day at Sudan Farm
Suffolk ewe waiting her turn at L-AI

This method of breeding sheep is fairly successful, but ewe lambs do not have a good rate of conception with this method.  Furthermore, Europe currently has a horrible virus that causes fetal deformities and spontaneous abortions (Schmallenberg virus).  So for the present time semen import is currently closed.  We feel it is not a prudent use of semen to attempt to breed ewe lambs in their first season.  This means we move up a small percent each year with the lamb crop from the prior year.  

What does this mean for you?  This means we have a few very special yearling ewe fleeces!  These ewes are pampered and spend the winter lazing around a green pasture and eating non-GMO green leafy alfalfa that we bring in from Madras, Oregon.  These ewes really grow the fleece.  Without the stress of pregnancy and lambing to cause wool break these yearling ewes  produce some very fine fleeces!

So why is Gotland wool expensive?  It costs a bit to grow this lovely wool.  Feed prices are always increasing and without proper nutrition fleece quality is poor.  L-AI breeding is usually more expensive than purchasing a ram.    We have some wonderful genetics in our flock as a result of  laproscopically artificial insemination.  We have used Winston and Rover from the Barlow flock in the United Kingdom.  They breed for hand spinning fleeces which is also our focus.  

We will be hoping for some 95% lambs spring 2015!  We will have percents varying from 84%, 87.5%, 93.75 & 95% if our ewes conceived with the L-AI.  


--The Ladies of Lawrence Cottage