The 'extremely rare' offspring of a goat and a sheep stands
with its mother and some mates in a paddock near Allanton
yesterday. Photos by Stephen Jaquiery.
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'."
He thought fleetingly there was a chance the ewe in question
could have had a dead lamb and adopted a kid but then decided
against it. With the body of a lamb, but the head, legs and
bleat of a goat, the incredibly rare male hybrid was
definitely "a cross between the two".
Mr Wallace, who had not noticed it 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.
It was his father who told him that there might be such as
thing as a geep. He looked it up on the internet that night
and "sure enough" they do exist.
Farmer Graeme Wallace holds the geep.
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
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, depending on
individual preference, he said when contacted yesterday at
his Nelson home.
While it could occur between a ram and a doe, or a buck and a
ewe, he understood it was more usual for a buck and a ewe.
The offspring were usually infertile but that was not always
the case and in some very rare cases they had been known to
The "clincher" to confirm the geep's parentage would be to
get a blood sample and do a chromosome analysis. It would
also be easy to collect semen from a male geep to see if that
semen was viable.
Mr Wallace, who decided against castrating or tailing the
animal, was not sure what would happen to the geep, which was
referred to simply as Geep.
"We might just keep it. It's just a novelty."
Meanwhile, the "freak of nature" was oblivious to its
uniqueness, while its mother was unfazed by her unusual