Can Sheep and Goats Breed?
Can Sheep and Goats Breed? – Breeding is a characteristic physical process among the members of the same species. A species is typically defined as “the member of same species that can interbreed with each other to produce fertile offspring.” With the definition in mind, we can say that members of different species can’t produce fertile offspring. However, we have seen that different species can mate with each other, but their offspring are not fertile. For example, we have a mule whose parents are horses and donkeys. A mule is very popular in domestic uses and is bred commonly but is infertile.
The same is the case with sheep and goats. Some cases of the past confirm the mating of male sheep with female goats producing infertile offspring. Furthermore, the produced offspring was live and had a set of chromosomes different from its parents. Thus, in actuality, the sheep-goat offspring was an intermediate between sheep and goat.
Sheep and goats are considered similar, but they both belong to different genera of classification. Mostly they share the pasture worldwide, but there are very rare cases of interbreeding among these two different species.
The offspring of sheep-goat mating are often stillborn, and they should not be confused with the sheep-goat chimera. A sheep-goat chimera is produced artificially by combining the embryos of sheep and goats.
What is the Difference Between Sheep and Goats?
No doubt, sheep and goat have many similarities, but their taxonomic characteristics create huge differences among them. According to their taxonomic classification, they are two distinct species. Sheep possess 54 chromosomes, while goats possess 60 chromosomes. Among sheep and goats, the most prominent difference is of the tail. The tail of the sheep goes down while the tail of the goat goes up. Mostly, the tail of sheep is docked for hygienic purposes. Occasionally, both species share the same pasture, mate, but their hybrids offspring are very rare.
Among the many differentiating behaviors, the most common is their feeding behavior. Sheep are natural grazers, and they prefer eating short grasses and clover. Their preference in feeding is broadleaf weeds, and they prefer to graze close to the ground. On the other hand, goats are natural browsers, preferring leaves, twigs, and shrubs. They like to browse on their rear legs to reach the leaves easily.
Goats have hairy coats, and it does not require regular combing and shearing. In contrast, sheep have a woolly coat, and it needs regular shearing. The upper lip of the sheep has a clearly visible philtrum or groove. Most goats have horns while most sheep are polled, without horns.
Will Sheep and Goats Breed Naturally?
According to the definition of species, it is not feasible to mate sheep and goats. A species is called a species only when it fulfills the two requirements – its members can breed naturally and produce fertile offspring. Sheep and goat can interbreed with each other, not naturally though, but can’t produce fertile offspring. Therefore, it is we can’t say that sheep and goat interbreeding is natural.
Species follow the principles of Haldane’s rule. Sheep and goat do not demonstrate the phenomenon of Haldane’s rule, and therefore their offspring don’t survive in nature. According to Haldane’s rule, two species can interbreed and produce fertile offspring only when the set of chromosomes of both species match.
This happens in the cross of different cat breeds – the set of chromosomes of the breeds match, and therefore, fertile offspring are produced. However, in the case of sheep and goat breeding, the two sets of chromosomes of sheep and goat differ in number. This leads to the production of infertile offspring that are unable to survive in nature like a normal species. Keeping in mind the previous attempts of sheep goat mating, we say that sheep and goat can’t breed naturally to produce fertile offspring.
How are Crosses Produced
Definition of a Shoat
As per the scientific classification of species, there is no nomenclature available for the name of a sheep-goat hybrid.
The sheep goat hybrid is often called a geep, but sometimes it is also known as shoat.
The term shoat technically refers to a pig that is less than a year old. Therefore, a newly weaned pig has often termed a shoat. But this term is not limited to a weaned pig. Though uncommon, the sheep goat hybrid has also termed a shoat.
According to the scientific laws of nomenclature, only those individuals who have gained the status of species are named. So far, the sheep goat hybrid has not gained the status of a species because it does not produce fertile offspring that can survive in nature; there is no scientific nomenclature available for the sheep goat hybrid. Till then, we have more than a word to describe the sheep goat hybrid.
Definition – What Are Geeps?
We have discussed the limitation of nomenclature available for the sheep goat hybrid. Sheep goat hybrids – offspring of ram and goat, is called geep. Unlike shoat, the word geep is only used for sheep goat hybrid. This term is more popular in media as it is exclusively utilized for sheep goat hybrid. Sheep and goat seem similar, but there is a lot of difference in their genetics. Both the animals belong to different genera, and their chromosomal number differs from each other.
There is a shared belief in geep (sheep-goat hybrid) among the farmers, maybe because of their physical resemblance that sheep and goat can mate with each other. This shared belief made people realize and accept the mating of sheep and goats. But unfortunately, nature does not accept the mating between sheep and goat, and therefore, geep is not so popular in the world.
Are Geeps Fertile?
Throughout history, humans have tried several experiments with plants and animals in probability to find out any possible cross that is viable and fertile. Out of several attempts, scientists got little success. But scientists did not stop the struggle of getting maximum knowledge.
Besides the day and night efforts of scientists, they cannot cross the limitations of nature. Because of this, many crosses fail – sometimes the offspring did not have live birth or died after the birth, sometimes the offspring lived for few days and then died, and sometimes the offspring were infertile.
The same is the case of geep. Sheep goat hybrids faced the resistance of nature, and they did not survive in nature like normal animals and could not reproduce.
So geeps are infertile, and they are not able to continue their progeny.
And there is a very simple rule of nature that the species that cannot reproduce will not be able to live in this world and will be extinct sooner or later. But extinction will not be in the case of geeps because we will keep trying in a new way.
There is one rule to determine the fertility or the infertility of hybrids, names Haldane’s rule. Haldane’s rule lets us know infertility and infertility of a hybrid. Haldane’s rule demonstrates that hybrid male members are often infertile. However, Haldane’s rule does not apply to those crosses in which there is a difference in the number of chromosomes of male and female parents. Therefore, it also does not specify the fertility or infertility of the geeps. However, in the experiments scientists or the farmers have performed, we did not find any fertile sheep-goat hybrid.
Are there any Value of Geeps?
There has been a long debate on the value/importance of geeps. As far as they cannot breed freely in nature as other animals do, their importance can’t be equal to other animals. One of the reasons for the farmer to allow the mating of sheep and goats is the aesthetics. People like the new mix of sheep and goats. Peculiarity and newness always inspire people, and a beautiful mix of sheep and goat is worth trying the sheep goat mating.
Things that people love are priceless, and only the lover can determine the value of his love; no one else can’t. Sheep and goat are very beautiful animals. People love the woolly appearance of sheep and the careless jumps of the goat. But the value and beauty of a sheep goat hybrid are far more than individual sheep and goat.
The qualities of both sheep and goat immerse in the sheep goat hybrid, and it becomes even more valuable for the farmers. Farmers, especially the women and children, love to play with the geep, treating it like a lovely pet.
Benefits of Sheep Goat Cross
It is the natural tendency, though rare, of the sheep and goat to mate with each other. In a herd in which there are both the sheep and goat live together, there are more chances that the sheep and goat mate. Moreover, you can increase the chances of mating by keeping the male and female partners alone. However, you will be amazed and happy to see the result of sheep goat mating. The sheep goat hybrid, geep, will make your life more charming and enthusiastic.
It will be a pleasure for the family to play with geep. Especially the children will be amazed to see this beautiful creature, and they will want to spend more and more time with geep. The hybrid will have the characteristics of both parents. It will have beautiful wool on the body and goat-like horns. Concludingly it will be a lovely mix of both. It is every farmer’s fantasy to do something different that will amaze his senses. Therefore most of the farmers who like to do adventurous things in their life must perform this cross. As a result, they get mental and physical satisfaction and a pretty reward in the form of geep.
What type of Wool / Hair Geeps have?
However, it is a matter of genetic combinations, and sometimes geeps have ordinary wool like sheep. This characteristic is not consistent with the genetic combinations, and their expression in the geep is uncertain. As this cross is not between the breeds of the same species, the chances of expression trait in the offspring are also uncertain. Therefore, geeps may or may not have ordinary sheep wool on their skin. If you ask about the type of wool/hair that geeps have, there is also the same answer – it is not certain. This uncertainty is due to the inconsistency of the genetic combinations of the parents.
Most of the time, geep possesses the type of wool or hair that its parents have. Offspring follows the genetic combinations that he got inherited from his parents. And for this reason, if they have wool or hair, it will resemble the parents used for the hybrid cross. You may trim their wool as per the season requirement. If it is hot and you think geep would find it difficult to survive in the hot season, you may trim the wool. But if there is winter season, their wool will be a blessing for them. You and your children may find the wool attractive and beautiful.
What type of Milk do Geeps have?
Well, it is not a matter of milk when we talk about geeps. The main concern of geep farming is their live birth and survival in the world. But unfortunately, geep cannot reproduce in nature.
And therefore, geep is found rarely across the globe. Survival and reproduction are the main concern for species to live in this world.
Otherwise, no species can exist and will be erased from the surface of the world. Several species on the earth have face this phenomenon. Once they were very strong, and in the next moment, there were no signs of that species. All this is due to the lack of ability of survival and reproduction.
Milking is the characteristic of an animal that is expressed after reproduction. Once an animal reproduces, it produces milk to feed its offspring. If an animal does not reproduce, there will not be the production of milk. The same is the case of geep – it is unable to reproduce because of infertility, and therefore there is no milk production seen in geep. If geep were able to reproduce and increase their progeny, we would get the milk.
What type of Meat do Geeps Have
Like other traits, geep possesses the meat like both of its parents. In actuality, geep is the hybrid and possesses all the traits in a combination of sheep and goat. The same is the case of meat – however, its meat properties differ from the individual parents, but it is the combination of sheep and goat.
Sheep and goat are commonly used for the purpose of meat, and they are slaughtered in huge numbers every year. Meat requirements are frequently increasing day by day as the population of the world is increasing. This increases the pressure on the existing production of meat. And therefore, we will need another source of meat to satiate the meat requirements of people.
Geep may or may not be a source to fulfill the meat requirements of the world. We are not sure about this because no one has tried to use them as a meat source.
However, there are certain conditions on which, if an animal presents itself, it can be used as a meat source. Among those conditions are the feed conversion ratio means that animal should eat less and produce more. The other condition is of time that the animal should produce the maximum in minimum time—only then can an animal server fulfill the meat requirements.
Is anyone Commercially Breeding this Cross
People are getting more interested in this topic, and they want to know what miracles cross-breeding can do to lend their hand in solving food and animal labor problems. In this regard, people tend to rely on cross-bred hybrids, and they want to make it commercial. There are several benefits to commercialize the breeding of geep.
One of the primary benefits of commercial breeding farms of geep is the increase in food production. People on this earth would be facing shortness of food sooner or later if we did not have managed their requirements. Among the several other benefits, one will be the generation of employment.
Unfortunately, there are no commercial breeding farms of geep up till now. But there are high chances for the development of geep farm soon. Because we will need more resources for food and animal labor shortly, it is highly possible when you are reading this blog; you hear the development of a geep farm. Therefore, there is an immense need to decrease poverty and to increase food availability for all. And such strategies are very helpful to join hands for the common good.
Is this a Recognized Breed?
Geep is recognized as a sheep goat hybrid, and this cross does not attain the label of a species. For an individual to become a species, there is an extensive criterion. However, geep is a recognized hybrid cross throughout the world, and the reason is the farmer’s interest in this hybrid cross. As long as farmers keep their interest in geep and the global requirements of meat and animal labor increase, there will be a drastic increase in the worldwide recognition of this hybrid cross.
The worldwide recognition involves worldwide human interest. Therefore, meat production can serve the worldwide human interest to increase the popularity of geep. Suppose somehow scientists can maintain a certain set of chromosomes in geep that can make geep reproduce and produce fertile offspring.
In that case, geep will be given the status of individual species. For an individual to be a species, the basic criteria are the same we have discussed before – to survive and reproduce naturally in the environment. Up till then, geep can be recognized as a hybrid cross of sheep and goat.
Nutrition for Sheep / Goats Cross
Geep doesn’t require specific nutrition, and they eat whatever their parents eat. There is the only requirement regarding the diet of geep, which is the balance of all essential nutrients. Until you want a special service from them, like using them for meat source, green diet is enough for them. If you’re going to utilize them as a food source, you will have to adjust their diet accordingly.
The nutrition of geep depends on their role in the community. If you want to keep them for wool or aminal labor, there are different nutrition requirements. And if you’re going to keep them as a source of meat, there are different nutrition requirements. Sheep and goat need grasslands to browse and graze. Geep, being the child of sheep and goats, requires no other nutrition than green fodder.
Therefore, pasture and forbs are the best options for the daily diet of geep. There are all essential nutrients available in this diet, and therefore you don’t need to purchase commercial diets like dog and cat food. All you need a pasture at the nearby lands of the farm and your problem of nutrition is solved.
Health Problems with Sheep/Goat Cross
If there is a first pregnancy, there are very few chances of any kind of problem. However, no significant problem has been observed in geeps. Most of the time remain healthy throughout their lifetime. however, a decreased immune response can be seen as one of the hurdles in their survival. Other than that, no deformity or major health problem has been seen in geeps.
To conclude this discussion, I must mention that sheep goat hybrids can be the future for us. There is a need for attention in discovering the ways how geep can be useful to human beings. Sheep goat hybrids can be a good source of meat for humans and can be a good source of animal labor. We need extensive research on sheep goat hybrids to solve some health problems and make them live longer and healthier.