Sheep and goats are part of different genera in the Caprinae subfamily and the Bovidae family. Putting those technical names to one side for a moment, it’s clear the two are very similar, but still different… which begs the question, can a goat and sheep breed?
Can a goat and sheep reproduce? Whilst it’s rare for a sheep and goat to reproduce it’s not uncommon. However, it should be noted that most of these instances happen by accident and not all hybrids are carried to term. The resulting offspring is a “geep”.
As you can imagine, it’s not simple and is a complex subject. However, the following will break it down including the risks of a goat getting pregnant from a sheep, how much a geep is worth, and whether a geep can then reproduce.
Can a goat and sheep reproduce?
It’s possible to cross a goat and a sheep to get a hybrid animal once the two breeds reproduce. However, in most instances, the offspring of these two animals can stillborn. However, in some cases the offspring of a goat and sheep reproducing can be perfectly healthy.
There was an instance in 2014 where a farmer crossed a goat and a sheep. According to a BBC news article, an Irish farmer accidentally bred a sheep-goat hybrid in 2013. Farmer Paddy Murphy saw one of his male goats mating with a sheep and didn’t really think much of it… until 5 months later.
In a statement, Paddy said he didn’t think anything happened the sheep gave birth to a hybrid mostly commonly referred to as a geep.
Can a goat get pregnant by a sheep?
As you can see by the story of Paddy Murphy it was the sheep that gave birth to the hybrid which could be the reason why it was born to term and healthy. But what happens if the goat is pregnant with the hybrid?
Well, in another BBC article there was a story At the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture in 2000 where a male sheep impregnated a female goat and the hybrid lived. At the time of the report, the goat was already six years old and had halfway features such as a coarse white coat and an inner woolly coat.
What’s more, the report stated that the geep grew faster than the lambs and kids that were born in the same month. The geep was a male and had a high libido but never reproduced which would suggest that he was infertile.
Therefore, a goat can definitely get pregnant by a sheep.
Handy Hint: If you don’t want any baby Geep running about, think about banding your male goat before any breeding possibilities occur.
Can a goat and sheep breed?
A goat and a sheep can breed but it’s extremely rare for the geep to survive whether the goat or sheep is pregnant with the hybrid.
The hybrid is almost always reproduced by accident. Often the births occur when there are no available male sheep or goats to mate with their own species.
Goats and sheep are very different. This is apparent when you compare how easily sheep are herded compared to goats. Goats are way more independent for a start…
What is the name of a hybrid of a sheep and a goat?
The sheep and goat hybrid is most commonly referred to as a geep in popular media. But the hybrid can also be called a shoat but is also a term for a young piglet.
Therefore, a geep is a more commonly used term as it is a made-up name that isn’t used for any other type of animal. The name is a combination of the common nouns sheep and goat.
How much is a geep worth?
Since a geep is extremely rare it may be an expensive animal to own or buy. However, there doesn’t seem to be an exact price for these animals. Some farmers may try to sell geeps for double the price of a normal sheep or goat because of the hybrid’s rarity.
If you’re a professional farmer you’d be able to detect whether the animal is in fact a geep and how much it should be worth. If you’re not a farmer and inexperienced you may want to ask an expert to assist you with buying or selling geeps.
Can geep reproduce?
With the story of the geep born in Botswana to a female goat, the hybrid was infertile. On the other hand, there have been some cases where geeps have been fertile. In this case, there have been some reports where geeps have reproduced.
For example, in a 1990 report, a female geep produced offspring when mated with a ram. However, the geep was the offspring of a ram and a goat doe.
You’d also be surprised that fertility in goat-sheep hybrids has long been recognized. You can find evidence of this in Darwinism: An Exposition of The Theory Of Natural Selection With Some of Its Applications that was published in 1889.
Alfred Russel Wallace detailed various aspects of potential hybrids during his travels.
On page 145 in the book Darwinism by Alfred Russel Wallace there is a snippet that says,
Hybrids bred from goat and sheep are called ‘chabin’ in French, and ‘cabruno’ in Spanish. In Chile such hybrids are called ‘carneros lanudos’; their breeding inter se appears to be not always successful, and often the original cross has to be recommenced to obtain the proportion of three-eighths of he-goat and five-eighths of sheep, or of three-eighths of ram and five-eighths of she-goat; such being the reputed best hybrids.
This would suggest that the fertility of hybrids has everything to do with how they were bred, and which species of goat and sheep reproduced the hybrid.
The pros and cons of goats and sheep reproducing
The advantage of breeding geep successfully is that you’ll most likely have a rare animal that could be worth a lot of money.
However, there are downsides to breeding sheep-goat hybrids. Reproduction between a sheep and goat is extremely rare and because of their physiological differences, the hybrid may be stillborn.
Because of that, it’s not something I would recommend!
Additionally, if the hybrid does survive from a natural birth, it may not be fertile, so it won’t be able to produce other crossbreeds.
You may be able to create a sheep-goat chimera which is a hybrid that is produced artificially by combining the embryos of sheep and goat. But this will require a lot of expensive equipment and experience in artificial breeding.
It may not be so difficult to get goats and sheep to mate naturally. You can increase the chances of mating if you keep the male and females alone. Or introduce one male goat to a herd of female sheep or one male sheep to a trip of female goats.
The risks of goats and sheep reproducing
The only risk you have when breeding geep is that the hybrid may not survive. This may put strain on your animal if the female keeps having a miscarriage.
If you are interested in breeding geep, you may want to contact a vet or a professional breeder to assist you.
I’ve established that a goat and sheep can reproduce, but I would not recommend that you let them breed to produce geep. Given the chances of them being born stillborn, it’s seem cruel and unnecessary.
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