Gotland Wool – Desirable Qualities
As mentioned earlier the modern Gotland and its beautiful fleece have been produced through careful breeding and selection. This is still going on today in the Breed Societies of Sweden, the other Nordic countries and Holland. The process used is “On-Farm Judging” of all lambs at 4-5 months of age. A points system is used where a maximum of 6 points is given for each of colour, curl, hair quality and fleece density. Conformation is also assessed. Only the best lambs with a total score of 16 or more are used for breeding. The best of the ram lambs are taken to a ram judging meeting where they are assessed again using an even more rigorous system to select the best of the best. An auction of the top ram lambs usually follows.
- Grey is a blend of black and white fibres.
- Black and pure white fibres give blue-grey.
- Black and off-white gives a smoky brownish grey.
- In some cases weathering will fade tips to brown.
Top colour points are given to lambs with uniform shades of blue-grey over the whole body. Symmetrical colour variations are common such as a dark neck and spine with lighter flanks.
Small: 5/6mm diameter; Medium: 7/8mm diameter: Large: 9/10mm diameter. Top curl points are given for a regular S-shaped wavy appearance over the whole fleece in well defined locks of about 20mm. After drawing out a lock, it should spring back into shape. It is common to find small tight curls on the neck and spine and large soft curls on the flank.
The best fleece grows through summer and autumn, while winter and early spring growth may be soft, fluffy, unpigmented fibres. Winter shearing therefore will produce the best fleece. A second clip in spring of the fluffy fibre leaves the skin clear for the new long wool growth.
Wool should have a good tensile strength: test part of a lock from the upper mid flank. Top hair quality points are given for smooth silky locks with a clean feel and appearance. Fibre diameter averages 35 micron, with black fibres slightly thicker than white. Top density points are given if a handful of fleece feels full and weighty.