2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Rare “Geep” Hybrid Is Real
“When Spring Rose was born, she was completely different from anything we had ever seen before,” says Bell. “Her fur was soft and long. I knew it was a Geep, but I didn’t realize how rare it was.”
The baby Geep had a difficult birth. The nanny had gone into labor, but only delivered a detached umbilical cord. Bell pulled out a baby with a sheep’s tail and long, almost wooly hair with an unusual head. It combined features of both goat and sheep. She had seen a similar birth prior, but it was stillborn. She feared the same this time, but that wasn’t the case.
“I swung her to clear her airway and when I laid her down, she shook her head letting us know she was alive,” says Bell. “I ran to the house for some penicillin, but by the time I was back, she was up and nursing.”
Bell recalled having put her smallest Babydoll ram in with a group of nannies after the larger rams had been picking on it. She had not expected anything to happen.
Born April 28, 2021, Spring Rose is a light gold color and has grown into a beautiful animal, says Bell.
“She has a very distinct personality,” she adds. “She is really loving, like a bottle baby, even though she was nursed by her mother.”
If Bell was sure Spring Rose was a Geep, others had reason to doubt. To be a hybrid, the stars and the chromosomes have to line up just right. Sheep have 54 chromosomes, while goats have 60. Later testing would reveal that Spring Rose has 57. Bell’s vet tried to contact others claiming to have Geeps with only limited success. University researchers were doubtful as well. Texas A&M professor Terje Raudsepp explained why. She noted that in the past 20 years her department had received 20 blood samples from suspected Geeps. Spring Rose was the first to be confirmed. Texas A&M is now mapping the genomes of Spring Rose and her parents.
“I was afraid she would be a genetic anomaly like a mule, but we are hoping to breed her with a buck,” says Bell. “The researchers think the first birth might go okay, but she may have problems after that.”
Bell would love to keep Spring Rose but has decided to put her up for sale. She is a single parent of two sons with medical needs, and they come first. She is grappling with how to determine a value and how to find buyers.
In the meantime, she is curious to see if her ram can repeat himself and produce another miracle birth.
“I put three does in with the ram to see if they would become pregnant,” says Bell. “Two of them came back into heat later, but one settled. My vet encouraged me to let the pregnancy continue.”
Bell is doing ultrasounds on the doe and documenting as much of the baby Geep’s development as possible. By mid-February, the doe was in her 14th week, and all appeared well.
Bell wonders if breeders running both sheep and goats together during breeding season end up with a less productive breeding season as a result. “This might be because does conceive by rams easily, but the babies are lost,” says Bell. “Breeding season comes and goes, and the does appear not to have become pregnant or miscarry.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Catherine Bell, (email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.facebook.com/thehalfpintfarm).
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