Twin geep taken in the first week after they were born January 31, 2013
My first reaction was shock and confusion. With my head cocked quizically sideways, one eyebrow up, I stared down at the strange creatures. There they stood, stark white and born to my purebred East Friesian ewe—out of season with long wavy hair instead of wool. Twin ewe lambs with their short tails flipped up over their backs ... what? Short tails? Hair? What on earth were these weird looking things standing big and strong under the heat lamp?
Of course, I do what every good farming mother would do next—call the kids! "Kids! Come and see what we have in the barn!" Each one agrees. Those lambs really do look more like goats. They would know. We have had purebred Angora goats longer than we have had sheep. They are familiar with the differently shaped nose bridges, the flagging tails and of course, the hair on the goat kids. The only thing these creatures didn't have going for them were the long floppy goat ears. In case you are wondering why we have long hair on our "actual" goats, they are Angora goats and they produce mohair fibre. We all joke that we will be calling those twin ewe lambs "geep."
After laughing ourselves all the way to the house, I do one of the things I do best—search the Internet for answers. I wanted to know whether or not sheep and goats can breed and, if they did, what would be the result. I was surprised at how little I could find. At least I was able to determine that indeed it is possible for a sheep and a goat to mate, but it's extremely unlikely to have live offspring. Strangely enough, the funny name we gave them—"geep"—is what they are actually called (aka: sheep-goat hybrid depending on which article you read.)
Well, they just can't be "geep!" What are the chances that out of a meager flock of 30 ewes we could have such a rarity? My local veterinarian assures me that indeed it CAN happen and that I should make sure and remove my goat buck because he says he may do it again! Really? Twice? I was already really angry with myself to have "wasted" a purebred ewe once.
Worse yet, what will my relatives think? In particular I think of my brother and brother-in-law who already make numerous jokes about my hobby farm, the number of strange animals I have on it, and the fact that I knit too much. "How many goats will you have in the back of your mini-van on this trip to Calgary, Lisa?" Ha ha. I have to admit that I've earned the teasing :-) I once caught a rogue goat in my arms above my head and in mid-air in the parking lot of Humpty's restaurant in Saskatoon. Don't ask…
In search of scientific proof, I turned to the U of S. I found an email for the Professor and Assistant Graduate Chair, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, College of Agriculture and Bioresources.
I have to say that I did not have high hopes that I would receive a response from a University professor with this many titles. (I had forgotten about the helpful spirit of Saskatchewan.) In response, I received a lovely email from Dr. Fiona Buchanan, Ph.D asking for photos and permission to share the photos with colleagues to get their opinions. Of course, I agree.
The answer I received back the other day was just as delightful and helpful. A number of researchers and professionals from the University who have seen the photos agree that what I have is indeed an incredibly rare event—twin geep. Sterile because of their different number of chromosomes, but very real. Who knew? I am still flabbergasted, but I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I really do have geep.
Also, I have an Angora buck for sale. :-)
Read all the stories that appeared in the Spring 2013 issue when you Subscribe now to our print and/or digital version.
Note: Comments are moderated so once you make your comment, allow 24 hrs for your feedback to show up on our website. If you have any questions email us at email@example.com.