They're not goats, they're not sheep... meet the geeps
A nanny goat has welcomed half-sheep hybrid twins known as 'geeps' on a Co Mayo farm.
According to livestock experts, the unusual animals born to Daisy the goat may be the world's only surviving twin geeps.
Angela Bermingham, originally from Bury, Manchester, the proud owner, intends keeping Daisy's offspring as pets rather than dispatching them to a butcher or a meat plant.
The geeps have been nicknamed This and That.
Michael Holmes, father of Padraic Holmes, who owns the Cheviot ram who bred with 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," she said. "When she became obviously pregnant I knew immediately what had happened."
Experts say it's rare for a sheep and goat to mate successfully, and most resulting pregnancies are never carried to term. But Ms Bermingham says she is that convinced her geeps are genuine hybrids and that any genetic tests in future would prove this.
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 arrangement of sharp-looking teeth.
Michael Holmes, a member of Mayo County Council, also expressed certainty that the curious looking little animals are the product of a relationship between Daisy the goat and his son's ram.
A long-time livestock farmer, he is a former chairman of the Irish Farmers' Association's National Sheep Committee.
"Angela's goat used to jump into the field where my son has the sheep and ram. These 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."
Ms Bermingham, with the blessing of the ram owner who technically has some right to ownership, says she hopes to keep the geeps as pets.