Give us a geep: goat and sheep produce rare hybrid twins
Week-long dalliance with Cheviot ram leads to ‘geep’ twins in Mayo
Angela Bermingham with her twin geeps named This and That and their mother Daisy at her home in Murneen, Claremorris, Co Mayo. Photograph: Keith Heneghan
A nanny goat called Daisy has given birth to what are believed to twin geeps – goat/sheep hybrids — after a week-long dalliance with a Cheviot ram on a Co Mayo farm.
Angela Bermingham, originally from Bury, Manchester, the proud owner of the unusual progeny, intends keeping Daisy’s offspring as pets rather than dispatching them to a butcher or a meat plant.
Her geeps, which she nicknamed ‘This’ and ‘That’, may, according to livestock experts, be the world’s only surviving twin sheep/goat hybrids.
Michael Holmes, father of Padraic Holmes, who owns the Cheviot ram believed to have impregnated Daisy on the Holmes farm at Murneen, Claremorris, has done extensive research on geeps since ‘This’ and ‘That’ came prancing into the world some weeks ago.
“To have one geep survive is rare”, he explained, “but to have two fit and healthy twins running around must be regarded as something of a miracle.”
Ms Bermingham, who doesn’t own a billy (buck) goat, says there are no roaming ‘billies’ around who could have mated with her Daisy.
She says she knew there was something going on when Daisy, “a bit of gallivanter” jumped a fence outside her cottage into land owned by Mr Holmes, where a flock of ewes, which were being serviced by a Cheviot ram, were grazing.
“I knew something was going on because she didn’t come out of the field for a week”, Angela explained. “When she became obviously became pregnant I knew immediately what had happened.”
Hugging the two extremely agile little animals on one of the rare occasions she could get her hands on them, Ms Bermingham took a close up look and reckoned: “Well, they’re not goats and they’re not lambs either.
“They were born with no horns and a full set of sharp teeth.That’s not usual.”
She then pulled back one of the little geep’s lips to reveal a formidable sawtooth arrangement of sharp incisors.
Michael Holmes, a member of Mayo County Council, expressed certainty that the curious looking little animals are the product of a relationship between Daisy the goat and his son’s ram.
Mr Holmes has authority on his side when he makes this assertion.
A long-time livestock farmer he is a former chairman of the IFA’s National Sheep Committee.
“Angela’s goat used to jump into the field where my son has the sheep and ram.This little geeps are very unusual. I have never seen twins before and I have seen a lot of sheep all over Ireland and all over the world.”
Long term. Angela Bermingham, with the blessing of the ram owner who technically has some right to ownership, says she intends holding onto the unusual progeny as pets.
Although experts say it’s rare for a sheep and goat to mate successfully, and most resulting pregnancies are never carried to term, Ms Bermingham says she’s convinced her geeps are genuine hybrids and that any genetic tests in future would prove this.