GIBSIDE, UK – The Brits are breeding Geep!
Half sheep, half goat. Yup. That is what farmer Ian Bramley thought when he discovered his ewe had just given birth to a hybrid.
While it sounds bizarre, the genetic fluke is officially known as a “geep”.
“One of the boys told me the lamb had arrived,” Mr. Bramley said.
“It was dark, and I went into the paddock looking for her mother and she had this little black and white bundle.
“We don’t get black and white lambs, and as soon as I felt it I knew it didn’t have wool, it had hair.
“I said its father must be a goat.”
Proving to be more than just the black sheep of the family, the geep, named Oreo, was born to a sheep but is a genetic throwback from its father – a ram with goat genes.
Oreo and her mother, Floss, are among a menagerie of animals on loan to FallyFarm, a pre-school and long day care centre in Gibside, England, from nearby farms.
The ram’s owner said he had been told it had goat genes “somewhere along its line” – sheep have 54 chromosomes, goats 60 – but in the genetic lottery Oreo came out fairly evenly split.
Oreo runs like a goat and has a goat’s face and feet but a sheep’s build.
What makes Oreo more remarkable is the embryo of a sheep-goat pairing generally dies in utero or is stillborn.
Fallyfoot supervisor Cindy Wilton said Oreo’s remarkable birth took everyone by surprise.
“We jumped online to research it and discovered, while it is rare it can happen,” she said.
“We had another sheep who had a lamb but Oreo was six weeks later and we learned goats’ gestation is typically about six weeks longer than sheep.”
Since this happened – five months ago – British geneticists have figured out how to breed geep and they are… “furiously breeding as many geep as possible.”
“Brits have always led the way when it comes to goat and sheep and now… we want to rule the world when it comes to geep.”
At least they have something…