A sheep–goat hybrid, called a geep or shoat, can come about naturally on any farm in which the two animals are messing around. But it is very rare, due to the genetic distance between the two species. Although sheep and goats seem similar and can be mated, sheep belong to the genus Ovis and have 54 chromosomes, while goats belong to the genus Capra and have 60 chromosomes.
The offspring of a sheep-goat pairing is generally stillborn, so when one of these creatures survives it is cause for celebration. In fact, a geep was born in Kildare last year, on Paddy Murphy’s farm. Paddy said the mother took to the baby geep as normal, and the geep thrived. Paddy told RTÉ News, “He’s running around a lot quicker than the other lambs which were born. He has much longer legs.”
Paddy Murphy did well out of his geep. He also owns a pub, and business was soon soaring. Murphy had many offers to purchase his geep, and his pub held a competition to name the geep, raising money for a local charity. But what if it wasn’t a geep but just a weird-looking normal sheep?
A few experts say that such rural yarns are spun when a baby sheep or goat is born that doesn’t look quite right. In the cases of naturally-born geeps, it is said that where no rams are available, then randy wild goats can step in to do the job. In the case of the Irish geep, the farmer Paddy believes a mountain goat was the culprit. Have a look at the below footage of Paddy and his geep. What do you think?
Ireland isn’t the only place where geeps are known. In Botswana, a male sheep impregnated a female goat resulting in a live offspring. This hybrid had 57 chromosomes, which was somewhere between sheep (54) and goats (60). It had a coarse outer coat, a woolly inner coat, long goat-like legs and a heavy sheep-like body. Although infertile, the hybrid had a very active libido, mounting both ewes and female goats even when they were not in heat.
New Zealand has had its share of geeps as well. A male sheep impregnated a female goat resulting in a mixed litter of kids and a female sheep-goat hybrid with 57 chromosomes. The hybrid was shown to be fertile when mated with a ram.
In France natural mating of a doe with a ram produced a female hybrid carrying 57 chromosomes. In California Valley, a geep was born in 2011. It birthed several hybrid babies over a 3-year period, until 2014 when it began to have miscarriages. The geep was then slaughtered for meat because geep meat has its own unique taste compared to sheep or goat meat.
So if that rare day comes when you are offered geep meat, will you take it? Now there’s a question to discuss down the pub.