Is that a geep? Ewe must be kidding... it's a shoat

By Sally Rae

The geep (front) has a lamb's body and a goat's head, legs and bleat. Photo / Otago Daily Times
The geep (front) has a lamb's body and a goat's head, legs and bleat. Photo / Otago Daily Times

No kidding - it's a geep.

When Taieri farmer Graeme Wallace brought a mob of ewes and lambs in for tailing this week, he thought the wool was being pulled over his eyes.

"I thought, 'what the hell is this? Is it a goat or is it a lamb?'

"No, it's a 50/50," Mr Wallace recalled. He thought fleetingly that the ewe mothering the mystery animal could have had a dead lamb and adopted a kid, but decided against it.

With the body of a lamb, but the head, legs and bleat of a goat, the rare male hybrid was definitely "a cross between the two".

Mr Wallace, who did not notice the animal during earlier daily lambing rounds - not that he was looking out for a geep - said it would have been sired by one of the many feral goats on the property, near Allanton.

His father told him there might be such a thing as a geep. So he looked it up on the internet that night and "sure enough" there was.

A report on the natural mating of a doe with a ram which produced a female hybrid - believed to be the first authenticated report of a sheep-goat hybrid in New Zealand - was published in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal in 1990.

Dr Tom Broad, who was involved with tests on that animal and unsuccessful attempts to breed from it, said hybrid offspring from a sheep-goat mating were "extremely rare" and he likened it to breeding a mule - a horse-donkey cross.

They could be referred to as a geep, or a shoat, he said yesterday at his Nelson home.

While it could occur between a ram and a doe, he understood it was more usual for a buck and a ewe.

The offspring were usually infertile but in some very rare cases they had been known to breed.

The "clincher" to confirm the geep's parentage would be to get a blood sample and do a chromosome analysis.

Mr Wallace, who decided against castrating or tailing the animal, was not sure what would happen to the geep, who had not been given a moniker, but was referred to simply as Geep.

"We might just keep it. It's just a novelty."

- Otago Daily Times

- Otago Daily Times

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