APHIS No Longer Providing Free Plastic Scrapie Tags

To support animal disease traceability and scrapie eradication efforts, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has provided both metal and plastic ear tags and applicators to sheep and goat producers – at no cost – since fiscal year 2002.

After a funding reduction in FY 2012, APHIS used specific, no-year funding (for scrapie and ADT) to continue purchasing the tags and distributing them free of cost to producers. These no-year funds were exhausted in fiscal year 2017. While the Agency remains committed to ADT efforts, beginning Oct. 1 of this year, APHIS is providing only metal tags free of charge to producers and others who handle sheep and goats. Plastic tags and applicators for metal and plastic tags will remain available for purchase directly from approved tag manufactures.

These changes will reduce APHIS tag and applicator costs while still providing sheep and goat producers with a free identification device. APHIS will provide a limited number of plastic tags to producers newly enrolled in the Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program who submit tissues for scrapie surveillance in order to encourage on-farm scrapie surveillance.

The agency will continue to work closely in partnership with states and industry to achieve scrapie eradication.

For more information on how to purchase tags and applicators, visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/scrapie-tags.
Note: The American Sheep Industry Association and other stakeholder groups continue to work with USDA on alternatives to this new policy, including increasing the appropriations designated to the scrapie eradication program.

South Jersey’s largest sheep farm isn’t where you think it is

Near luxury homes, a Moorestown site raises stock for breeding, wool, and market lambs.

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DAVID MAIALETTI/ Staff Photographer

Charlene Carlisle and her husband, Kenny, pose with their lambs and sheep at Little Hooves Farm, which has a flock of about 300, in Moorestown, N.J.

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In the middle of a fast-developing town known for its desirable zip code is a sheep farm believed to be the largest in South Jersey – and you wouldn’t know it’s there.

Little Hooves farm in Moorestown is where a flock of 300 sheep and lambs thrive mostly out of sight, inside three sprawling dairy barns that decades ago held cows. The sheep have been there for more than a dozen years. Sometimes they can be seen on pastures that border a two-lane country road that’s gradually becoming less peaceful.

The farm is among the last in Moorestown.  One reason sheep farms survive is the state’s ethnic diversity, which drives a demand for the meat, state agriculture experts say.  Muslims, Orthodox Greeks, Hispanics, and some Middle East and Asian immigrant communities favor market lamb — especially during the Easter season and other religious holidays.

“Easter is one of our peak times. But it keeps going with Orthodox Easter, Muslim holidays, and even the Fourth of July, when people can roast lamb on a spit or a grill,” said Charlene Carlisle, a part-time intensive-care nurse at Virtua Hospital who operates the Little Hooves farm off Centerton Road.

Nationwide, sheep inventory has been declining for decades, but New Jersey is enjoying a small uptick.  The state had nearly 15,000 sheep in 2012 and was ranked fifth in the nation in the production of market lamb and mutton in 2015, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. Pennsylvania, however, had a decrease in market sheep in 2015.

 DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Sheep gather in one of the fields at Little Hooves in Moorestown.

Little Hooves has carved out a niche in Moorestown while other farms have disappeared. But across the street, workers for Toll Brothers hammer away at a new development of luxury homes, the Mews at Laurel Creek.  The 250-acre farm has an executive office campus on one side and community gardens on the other.

This time of year, the farm contributes to the bustle.

Consumers can buy market lambs and wool products directly from the doorstep of the farm or from the nearby Burlington County Farmers Market.

Carlisle tends to the animals, while her husband, Kenneth, grows mostly hay, soybeans, and corn on the acres they lease from the county under a farmland preservation program, and from several landowners.

“I don’t require much sleep,” she said, laughing. Carlisle also said sheep are “fairly easy” to raise since they only need to be fed twice a day.

Carlisle says the new focus on farm-to-fork and fresh, locally produced meats and vegetables has also helped their business grow.  “There’s definitely an increased interest with people wanting to feel connected, wanting to know where their food comes from,” she said, noting she doesn’t give her sheep any hormones.

She sells market lambs to restaurants and to consumers at the farmers market.

The farm also sells prize-winning sheep for breeding and for so-called gentleman’s farms that use small flocks of sheep to get tax breaks.

 DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
The Carlisles raise sheep for breeding, wool, and market lambs.

The Carlisles have been farming at this Moorestown site for 30 years, including more than a decade when the couple worked for the Winner dairy farm, which once had 400 Holstein cows on the property.  Now, they raise only sheep, which Carlisle described as more pleasing to residential neighbors who have moved into the area.  “There is less smell and manure, since sheep poop is like rabbit poop,” she said.

Carlisle also markets wool, yarn, and pelts online.

“We’re probably the largest sheep farm around except for the one in North Jersey,” she said.  That farm, Valley Shepherd Creamery, in Long Valley, Morris County, has about 500 milking sheep used in a commercial cheese operation.

Nationwide, there were about eight million sheep and lambs in 1997, and only about 5.3 million this year due partly to decreased demand.  In 1997, New Jersey had 12,900 sheep, and 14,900 by 2012, on 819 farms.

The majority of those farms had fewer than 25 sheep and lambs.  Only a dozen had more than 100.

Among the smaller ones is the Square Key Farm in Pedricktown, Salem County, which has about 70 sheep and lambs.  “I focus on meat lambs that look nice on the table,” said Ed Hall Jr., the owner.  He supplies a few Philadelphia and Delaware restaurants and sells directly to customers who then take the animals to a butcher.

“I’m not struggling, because it’s a unique market,” Hall said.  There also are challenges.  Hall won’t be able to capitalize on the Easter market this year because his ram became sterile and his lambs were born too late.  “I’m not rich, but I’m paying my bills and I’m happy and doing well,” he said.

Dan Wunderlich, a New Jersey Department of Agriculture livestock specialist, said the state had the distinction of being fifth in the nation in the number of sheep and lambs that were slaughtered in 2015 in federally inspected facilities and then marketed.  There were 126,000 market sheep in that category, up 5 percent from the previous year.

That number, the latest available, represents sheep raised in the state for meat along with those imported from other states.

New Jersey “has the market, and the population, and ethnic diversity and relies on Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and Maryland for a supply of live animals,” Wunderlich said.

In 2015, Pennsylvania processed only 61,100 sheep for meat, a 15 percent decrease from the previous year, the USDA reported.  Wunderlich said that state likely exports many of its sheep to states like New Jersey that have the diversity and the customers.

Currently, New Jersey has 13 federally inspected sheep and lamb meat processing facilities.  Catelli Brothers in Camden is among them.

Wunderlich said a growing number of farmers also deal directly with consumers, who may take the animals to butchers or a non-regulated facility.  Muslims sometimes purchase the lambs and take them to a special halal butcher.

 As for wool products, Wunderlich said they provide “less of a boon” because consumers often purchase synthetics and washable fabrics.

Carlisle said her wool is sold mostly to consumers interested in warm blankets and others interested “in getting back to natural fibers.”

She said the county farmers market, which opened about 10 years ago, also has helped give her business a financial boost. It is open only on Saturdays, in the summer.

“It gives us a way to educate the public,” she said.

Source: https://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/New-Jersey-Sheep-farmers-Easter-immigrants-lamb-Moorestown.html

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Impact of Tax Code on Agriculture

WASHINGTON — The House Agriculture Committee has held a hearing to examine how the tax code impacts agricultural producers. Members of the committee heard from a panel of Members of Congress—including Rep. Kristi Noem (SD-at large) and Rep. Lynn Jenkins (KS-2)—from the House Committee on Ways and Means, the committee charged with crafting our nation’s tax code. The Committee also heard from a diverse panel of witnesses including agricultural and tax professionals.

“Both the ranking member and I are CPAs, and many of our colleagues in Congress are small business owners in their own right,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway. “Few business sectors in America are subject to as many unknowns as farming and ranching. With the upcoming potential for tax reform, it is important to highlight the unique challenges of the agricultural industry and explore opportunities within the tax code to better support a vibrant farm sector.

“As with tax reform changes from years past, the devil is in the details. Providing for a simpler, fairer tax code means that many parts of the tax code may have to change, but these individual proposals cannot be evaluated in a vacuum. I look forward to working with Chairman Brady and his colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee as they craft a tax reform package, and I urge all of my colleagues to reserve judgment until they’ve had an opportunity to evaluate a complete package.”

Written testimony provided by the witnesses from today’s hearing is linked below. Click here for more information, including Chairman Conaway’s opening statement  and the archived webcast.

Witness List:
Panel I
Ms. Patricia Wolff, Senior Director, Congressional Affairs, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, DC

Mr. Doug Claussen, CPA, Principal, KCoe Isom, LLP, Cambridge, NE

Mr. Chris Hesse, CPA, Principal, CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, Minneapolis, MN

Mr. Guido van der Hoeven, Extension Specialist/Senior Lecturer, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Raleigh, NC

Dr. James M. Williamson, Economist, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Washington, DC

Source: https://www.morningagclips.com/the-impacts-of-tax-code-on-agriculture/?utm_content=articles&utm_campaign=NLCampaign&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_term=newsletteredition&utm_medium=email

 

 

 

Horse tests positive for deadly EHM (EHV-1) equine herpes

TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has quarantined properties in Hunterdon and Somerset counties after a horse developed highly infectious equine herpes myeloencephalopathy. EHM is the often deadly neurologic form of the Equine Herpes Virus infection. No recent movement had occurred at the farm where the virus was reported prior to this case. The horse was moved into the isolation barn at a local animal hospital the evening EHM was confirmed. Both the horses at the original farm and the hospital are under quarantine.

Nine horses were being treated at the hospital at the time of the incident; several horses were exposed to the ill horse. Seven of these horses will be moved to a remote facility, which also will be placed under quarantine so the hospital can be cleaned and disinfected in order to reopen. Other than the initial case, none of the quarantined horses at either location are showing clinical signs at this time. Both locations are taking the necessary biosecurity precautions to limit the spread of the virus. Temperatures also are being taken twice daily on all quarantined horses.

“The Department took swift action to prevent the disease from spreading to other horses by enacting a quarantine, which stops movement of horses in and out of the properties and puts in place preventive measures to contain the virus,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher.

The EHV-1 organism spreads quickly from horse to horse and can cause respiratory problems, especially in young horses, spontaneous abortions in pregnant mares, and the neurologic form of the virus can result in death. The incubation period of EHV-1 is typically 2-10 days. Clinical signs include respiratory disease, fever, nasal discharge, depression, cough, lack of appetite and/or enlarged lymph nodes. In horses infected with the neurologic strain of EHV-1, clinical signs typically include mild incoordination, hind end weakness/paralysis, loss of bladder and tail function and loss of sensation to the skin in the hind end. The virus spreads readily through direct contact with infected materials. While highly infectious, the virus does not persist in the environment for an extended period of time and is neutralized by hand soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and sunlight. The virus does not affect humans and other domestic animals, with the exception of llamas and alpacas.

Concerned owners should consult with their veterinarian prior to taking any action as the clinical signs of infection with the neurological form of EHV-1 are common to many other diseases. EHM is a reportable disease in New Jersey. If an owner has a horse exhibiting neurologic signs or suspects Equine Herpes, they are directed to call their veterinarian immediately.

The NJDA Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory provides testing for the neurologic form of EHV-1. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/prog/lab.html or call 609-406-6999.

Source:  https://www.morningagclips.com/horse-tests-positive-for-equine-herpes/

 

Newly-preserved farm protects Readington’s historic character

READINGTON TWP. – A partnership of the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Readington Township and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service on Tuesday, Feb. 21, preserved the 21-acre Cole Farm on Readington Road.

Back in the late 1700s, a German indentured servant named Casper Berger repaid his debt and became a free man.

“He was a mason by trade, and he was required to build three homes,” said Robert Cole, Berger’s descendent. “He built them, earned his freedom and settled in the village of Readington.”

According to a family history, the house on the Cole farm property was likely built by John Berger, a grandson of Casper Berger. The barns are believed to predate the farmhouse.

During the Civil War era, the farm was owned by John Berger’s daughter, Anna, and her husband, Thomas Johnson, the village doctor. Their daughter, Sarah Johnson, married Charlie Cole, a local farmer.

Charlie and Sarah Cole’s son Robert, and his wife Gladys, purchased the farm during the Great Depression. Robert was one of the first farmers in the area to own a combine, which he made available to neighboring farmers. Access to this technology supported and fostered the agricultural community. Robert Cole farmed the land through the 1950s, selling some of the original acreage in his retirement.

The property was passed down to Robert’s son, Richard Cole, who had two sons, Robert and David. The younger Robert Cole and his wife purchased the farm in 1994, and still live there today. Robert and Janet Cole’s children, Bobby and Sarah, represent the ninth generation of their family to live on the land.

Eight generations later, Casper Berger’s farm is still in the family. And it is likely to remain a family farm, now that the Hunterdon County land has been permanently preserved.

Preserving the farm will make it easier for future generations – including Robert and Janet Cole’s son and daughter – to continue to own and farm it.

Cole said he and his wife felt strongly about preserving the farm.

“When we walk on the land, we can feel the history,” he said. “It’s a special place, and we feel that we’re being stewards of our family heritage. It felt like the right thing to do.”

The preservation of the farm also helps protect the character of Readington Village, which is listed on the state and national Registers of Historic Places. The Cole farm is the last remaining property of sizeable acreage in the village.

The centerpiece of Readington Village is the historic Dutch Reformed Church, which is surrounded by 18th and 19th century houses. Casper Berger and several succeeding generations are buried in the church’s cemetery.

The Cole farmland – which overlooks the church and cemetery – will continue to be owned by the family, but is now permanently restricted for agricultural use. The family’s historic house and barns were not included in the preservation project.

“The Cole family farm is very important to the landscape and character of Readington Village,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We’re very pleased the family chose to preserve this beautiful piece of land.”

Development rights on the Cole farm were purchased using New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Readington Township’s funding from the State Agriculture Development Committee.

“We were happy to partner in the preservation of this farm to ensure that it remains in agriculture for generations to come,” said Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher who chairs the State Agriculture Development Committee.

Readington Township Mayor Benjamin Smith said that the township is happy to have assisted in this preservation.

“Preservation of the Cole farm in the heart of Readington Village is an important part of the township’s multi-decade program to preserve our farms and maintain the rural character of the township for future generations,” Smith said.

State Conservationist Carrie Lindig praised the farmland preservation project.

“The Natural Resources Conservation Service values the New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s leadership in preserving New Jersey’s farmland,” Lindig said. “We are pleased to partner with them and the State Agriculture Development Committee in acquiring a conservation easement on this Readington Township farm, and we appreciate Mr. Cole’s commitment to preserving their valuable, historic family farm.”

Source: NJ Hills.com March 22, 2017

Legislation would support young farmers

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, introduced legislation to support young people in agriculture by creating a tax exemption for the first $5,000 of income students 18 years of age or younger earn from projects completed through 4-H or FFA. Their bills, the Agriculture Students Encourage, Acknowledge, Reward, Nurture Act (S. 671) and the Student Agriculture Protection Act (H.R. 1626), enable students to keep more of the modest income they earn, which can then be invested in education savings or future agricultural projects.

“With the number of new farmers trending downward and more mouths to feed than ever across the globe, Congress must support young people who are interested in a career in agriculture,” Sen. Moran said. “This bill is one step we can take to encourage those involved in FFA and 4-H to turn their modest income from the agricultural projects into savings, money for education and training, or toward a future project. Farming kids across the country represent the future of a critical industry and way of life, and this legislation represents an important investment in the next generation.”

“Ensuring members of student organizations like 4-H and FFA are afforded every opportunity to succeed is not only important for the student’s future, but the future of our nation’s agriculture,” said Sen. Ernst, a former member of the 4-H. “I’m proud to support the Agriculture Students EARN Act to allow our future farmers to gain valuable experience and skills through hands-on projects. By investing in our students’ futures, we are investing in the next generation of our nation’s leaders that will be on the forefront of agricultural innovation and production for years to come.”

“We must do more to encourage our future farmers to stay in the farming business so our country can maintain a secure and steady food supply,” said Rep. McCaul. “These students across the nation today represent the future of agriculture, and enabling them to succeed means we all succeed. That is why I am proud to reintroduce the Student Agriculture Protection Act. This bill would eliminate unnecessary barriers for our young farmers to ensure the U.S. remains outfitted with innovative minds that have allowed us to be the world leader in the agricultural industry.”

“Recruiting and retaining the next generation of young people to the family farm or to other agricultural pursuits starts here; it starts with legislation like the Agriculture Students EARN Act and theStudent Agriculture Protection Act,” said National FFA Western Region Vice President Trey Elizondo. “This proposal would undoubtedly enable me and other agricultural education students to strengthen agriculture and support the communities in which we live. My generation is ready to accept the challenge of feeding, clothing, and sheltering our world, and this legislation helps us accept that challenge.”

Typical 4-H and FFA projects include showing animals at local and state fairs, growing and harvesting crops, building agricultural mechanic projects and many others. Ag Students EARN would lower the tax burden on the students and give them an opportunity to invest more of what they’ve earned in future projects, college funds or savings accounts.

Supporters of the legislation include National FFA Organization, National 4-H Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and National Young Farmers Coalition.

— The Office of  Joni Ernst, R-Iowa

Source:  Morning Ag Clips NJ March 22, 2017

Congrats to Chris Posbergh

Posbergh Earns Sheep Heritage Foundation Scholarship

Taking on one of the hottest topics in the sheep industry paid off for Chris Posbergh when he was named the winner of the 2016 Sheep Heritage Foundation scholarship in mid-July. The scholarship award is $3,000 this year.

A Ph.D. student at New York’s Cornell University – where he earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science in May 2015 – Posbergh’s research project is Increasing Efficiency in Sheep Production Using Genetics. Specifically, he has two objectives: to identify genetic variants responsible for mature body size and to identify genetic variants responsible for out of season lambing.

In the first part of his study, Posbergh hopes, “DNA markers can be developed to allow breeders to control selection for mature size earlier in a sheep’s life.” But it’s the second part of his project that could play an important role in the future of the sheep industry.

“By analyzing lambing records from flocks selecting for aseasonality, we identified individuals that consistently lambed or failed to lamb out of season,” he wrote in his scholarship application. “The long-term goal is to develop genetic markers that breeders can use to select for ewes that are more likely to lamb out of season. Both of these objectives work toward increasing the efficiency of the industry by reducing maintenance costs associated with large size and increasing the productivity of ewes through year-round lambing.”

A New Jersey native, his first exposure to the sheep industry came when his dad brought home a bottle lamb from work. Posbergh went on to show sheep through 4-H and has counted Dorset and Romneys in his personal flock. He took the reigns as president of the American Romney Breeders Association in August of 2015. Most of his research work with sheep has focused on animal genetics. He’s also interested in natural wool colors and hopes to incorporate a study of color into future work.

Source: American Sheep Industry Weekly July 22, 2016

No rest for the weary during lambing season Spring means all hands on deck at Maine’s largest sheep farm in Windham

On a chilly April morning Chris Basford, the flock manager at North Star Sheep Farm in Windham, sits on a pile of hay, bottle-feeding a 10-day-old lamb.

“All done, little girl,” he says, as he gently rubs her charcoal-colored ears.

Basford, 28, started his day at dawn. There’s no telling when he’ll be able to head home for a few hours sleep.

“I sleep when I can get a chance,” he says. “You can never really plan, because there’s always something. You’re ready to leave at the end of the night, and another one’s having a baby.”

Welcome to lambing season at Maine’s largest sheep farm.

For Basford, the sight of a healthy newborn still has the power to thrill.

“I’m always happy to see the moms accept their babies and know that I’ve helped them.”

Chris Basford, the flock manager at North Star Sheep Farm, bottle feeds a 10-day-old lamb. When the spring lambing season is underway it's all hands on deck at Maine's largest sheep farm.

Chris Basford, the flock manager at North Star Sheep Farm, bottle feeds a 10-day-old lamb. When the spring lambing season is underway it’s all hands on deck at Maine’s largest sheep farm.

North Star Sheep Farm is owned by Phillip Webster, a fifth-generation sheep farmer, and his wife, Lisa. The round-the-clock demands that come with this rite of spring are just part of the job.

“We’re there if there’s an issue, if there’s a problem, if there’s a mama in danger,” says Lisa, 53. “You never know when a situation is going to arise that you have to take care of.”

They average about 40 newborns a day – that’s more than 3,000 lambs born from late February through May.

“There are days when it feels like you’re working in an emergency room,” says Phillip, 54. “Everything happens so fast.”

Come spring, North Star Sheep Farm’s eight-person crew slips into high gear.

“Farming isn’t a part-time job,” Lisa says, “unless you have just a very few animals, and that’s perfectly fine. But if you really are all in on this, it’s a lot of hours.”

And a lot of territory to cover.

Along with their 125-acre property in Windham, they lease two farms in New Gloucester.

Most of the spring and fall lambing is done in Windham. The pregnant ewes spend the few days before they give birth – and about three days afterward – in what can best be described as the farm’s maternity ward: a series of individual pens lined with fresh hay in two attached barns. Separating each mother and her babies from other ewes encourages them to bond. Most will give birth to twins or triplets.

When the lambs are about 1 week old, they roam free within the confines of the fenced-in pastures.

“The way we farm and the way we care for our animals is exactly as it was when we were a flock of 125 sheep,” Lisa says.

“One of the things that’s important to me and to my staff is we’re going to give (the animals) the best life they can possibly have,” Phillip says. “They’re not going to be (kept) in little small areas or boxed in.”

Lisa Webster, who owns North Star Sheep Farm with her husband, Phillip, holds a lamb in one of the barns where pregnant ewes wait to give birth. Lambing season is a round-the-clock job for the Websters and their eight-person crew.

Lisa Webster, who owns North Star Sheep Farm with her husband, Phillip, holds a lamb in one of the barns where pregnant ewes wait to give birth. Lambing season is a round-the-clock job for the Websters and their eight-person crew.

The Websters also raise pigs, rabbits and chickens. But sheep are the mainstay.

“Sustainability is everything,” Phillip says. “We try to figure out ways we can use all of our products. That goes right from wool to meat to manure.”

North Star sells its wool to the Bartlett Mill in central Maine, where it’s made into yarn. It sells its meat to a number of retailers in Maine, including Whole Foods, Hannaford and Rosemont Market, and also provides lamb to some of Maine’s higher-end restaurants and to out-of-state retail and food service customers.

Phillip makes all the deliveries himself, driving hundreds of miles every day throughout Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and upstate New York. He can’t remember the last time he had a day off. But you won’t hear any complaints from him.

“It’s a great life,” he says. “You’re not gonna get rich at it, but if you work really hard you can make a living at it.”

Just don’t expect to get much of a break when spring turns to summer.

“Just as we get all the babies on the ground, the grass is going to start growing. So then we can start haying morning, noon and night,” Lisa says with a laugh.

 

Source : Press Herald, 2016 April 11

Video available at original website, requires Flash player.

Update on a Geep – Hybrid Sheep Goat Born March 2014

The return of the geep: two years on.  By Amy McShane on 29 January 2016

The geep is now two years old.

It’s been almost two years on from the birth of the sheep-goat hybrid.

A farm in Kildare is home to the geep, who was born in March 2014. Owner of the farm Paddy Murphy said at the time that “it had all the hallmarks of a goat. He looks like a goat trapped in a lamb’s body.”

Full Story and videos:   http://www.farmersjournal.ie/the-return-of-the-geep-two-years-on-199305