The Gotland sheep should be well adapted to feed on marginal land such as unfertilized meadows and pastures. The adults should have good ability to feed on both grass and herbs, as well as on bushes and leaves, thus contributing to nature preservation and open landscapes.
The main breeding goal is to develop the unique qualities of the furskin.
The weight of the slaughtered lambs should correspond to the demands from the market of a carcass weight from 17-22 kg. The carcass should reach R- to R+ on the EUROP scale at a fat classification from 2- to 3. The lambs should be ready to slaughter at the time when furskin quality is high (early autumn).
The breeding counsel can suggest changes of the breeding goal to the board of the Swedish Gotland Sheep Association.
The population of Gotland sheep participating in the breeding program consists of about 18 000 ewes and 1 000 rams belonging to about 500 flocks. The number of sheep has increased to some extent during the last 5 years. It has not been considered necessary to limit the number of offspring from a certain animal, due to the rather large population. At the moment no collection of genetic material is planned but it can easily be incorporated into the national A.I. program.
All breeding animals are identity tagged according to European Union regulations. The sheep are then registered in the database Elitlamm.
Breeding animals are selected from standardized judging at farm level and from EBV and, for rams, also from a standardized national judging procedure.
The estimated breeding value of livestock is calculated with BLUP animal model. Responsible organization is Swedish Sheep Breeders Association (Svenska fåravelsförbundet). The database Elitlamm is used for data input and for publishing EBVs.
Official pedigree register is held by Elitlamm which is the flock book with one section. Regular back-up routines ensures the database. Data from Elitlamm are available to the sheep owner and to officials.
Four generations of purebreds are required to register a sheep in the flock book. The board of the Swedish Gotland Sheep Association can give dispensation from these terms if it can be shown with certainty that all ancestors have been purebreds. A sheep can also be registered in the flock book after four generations if the Gotland sheep proportion by then is at least 93.75 %. Gotland sheep must not have been bred through surgical, including laparoscopic, method. Ewes that are used for such a method will be excluded from the flock book.
The Gotland Sheep Association is continuously engaged in the progress of the breed. The aim of the development is an even more economic and sound sheep. Since the Gotland sheep is a breed of constant development the Association is carefully monitoring any negative tendencies concerning malformation frequencies or viability traits.
The breeding program is revised when justified or when the Authorities demands so.
May 2017 (English version Feb 2018)