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Friday 20 April 2018

Can ewe believe it? Goat gives birth to twin 'geeps'

Twin Geeps named This and That belonging to Angela Bermingham at her home in Murneen, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan
Twin Geeps named This and That belonging to Angela Bermingham at her home in Murneen, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan

Tom Shiel

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.”

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Twin Geeps named This and That belonging to Angela Bermingham at her home in Murneen, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan
Twin Geeps named This and That belonging to Angela Bermingham at her home in Murneen, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan

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 sucecssfully, 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.

 


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