Other common names: Fainting Goat; Fainter; Tennessee Goat; Tennessee Scare Goat; Wooden-Leg Goat; Stiff-Leg Goat; Nervous Goat; Tennessee Meat Goat; TMG
According to the International Fainting Goat Association, the Myotonic Goat "traces back to the early 1800's when a farm worker appeared in Marshall County, Tennessee, with three does and a buck that fainted. It was thought by his dress that he might have come from Nova Scotia. He was a quiet man and wouldn't talk to anyone so whatever he knew will remain a secret forever. He eventually parted from Marshall County but before he did he sold his goats to Dr. H. H. Mayberry. Fortunately Dr. Mayberry propagated them and tried his best to research their history. He could find no evidence of such a breed anywhere else in the world. He was convinced they were a breed because their unique traits are hereditary."
Today, Myotonic Goats are mostly raised as pets and show animals. The defining genetic trait of the breed is a neuromuscular condition which causes them to stiffen and sometimes fall over when startled. Respiration, heart function and other body functions are not affected, and the goat does not lose consciousness, and does not really "faint". The condition lasts for ten to fifteen seconds after which time the animal rises and is able to walk stiffly. Myotonic Goats are said to have been used by sheep farmers to distract predators from their flocks. When a predator appeared, the Myotonic Goats would startle, experience their temporary paralysis, and become the first, and easy, prey, allowing the sheep to run off to safety.
Appearance / health:
Myotonic goats are small-sized and seen with various hair colors and coloration patterns, but commonly black and white. The hair can be short or long, with cashmere undercoats in the winter months. The back and legs are straight. The eyes are protruding. What gives the goat its name is its tendency to “faint” or fall over when startled or threatened, an involuntary reaction caused by myotonia or the temporary stiffening of the leg muscles.
Goats are sensitive animals that can suffer from various infectious and chronic diseases that are sometimes undetected until too late. Vaccinations, as well as de-worming and de-lousing applications must be conducted as needed. Milking goats should be checked regularly using prescribed mastitis tests for udder health. Milking areas should always be clean and the goat’s teats treated with teat dip after milking to prevent mastitis.
Goats must be inspected frequently to detect any signs of poor health, infections, or other ailments. Signs include cloudy or teary eyes, dull or fluffed up coat, droopy tail, hunched back, or poor appetite. A veterinarian should always be on call to address health concerns.
Behavior / temperament:
Goats are inherently curious, active, intelligent, and social. They are known to have the ability to overcome enclosures by unraveling the gate, climbing over the mesh, or pushing and ramming the fence down. Goats have good coordination and balance and can manage to climb low trees, ledges, and overhangs. Their curiosity leads them to constantly investigate items with their mouths; most items get chewed and swallowed. With a little patience, goats can be taught to carry or pull loads, respond to calls, and lead a herd. As social animals, they easily get along with other farm animals.
Myotonic Goats are favored as pets and show animals because of their small size, intelligence, docile and friendly nature, and ease of care.
Housing / diet:
As herd animals, goats are best kept in pairs or groups. As grazers, they require an outdoor habitat that is securely fenced to prevent escape or foraging in restricted areas. The area should be large enough to allow the goat to roam. The recommended habitat per goat is 200 sq. ft. of yard or pasture plus a sheltered or indoor area of about 15 sq. ft. The sheltered area should be adequately built to keep the goats safe from rain and strong winds.
Keeping goats inside the house is not recommended because of the pet’s tendency to gnaw and chew on furniture and furnishings. Goats are also not known to adhere to toilet training.
The ideal food for domesticated goats is alfalfa hay and grass hay. This should be available daily in quantities of at least 3% of the goat’s body weight. Small quantities of feed grain and concentrates (often protein-enriched) like goat show or goat grain can also be given to add nutrition. Supplements are often used to address deficiencies inherent to local habitats.
Clean water is essential to a goat’s daily diet. It should always be available and provided where it cannot be soiled. Dirty and moldy water is hazardous to the goat’s health. Milking goats should be kept away from aromatic or strong-tasting foliage like garlic, onions, mint, and cabbage, which could taint the flavor of the milk.
fewer hoof issues, disease resistance, favorite breed, good pets, easiest breed, gorgeous color patterns
myotonic condition, nervous goats, expensive fullblood myotonic, strong fences
myotonic condition, myotonia, stiffness
Don't Scare the Fainting Goats!
Okay, let's get one thing straight here: these little guys really do "faint"! My dad thought it would be interesting to have a pair of these cuties just for educational purposes. The very first day that we had them, I went outside to mow the lawn which ran adjacent to their pen. As soon as I started up the lawn mower, both of them "fainted". I have to admit that it makes you feel a little guilty at first trying to mow and giggling to yourself as those two just continued to flop over. After awhile, they learned to ignore the sound of a lawn mower. And a weed eater. And everything else that made loud, mechanical noises. However, the sound of a dog barking loudly always caused them to "faint", as did being chased. It was also a bit of a challenge to contain them. They're excellent climbers, and it took a lot of trial and error to construct a pen that was large enough for them to get their exercise, and deep enough to contain things for them to climb and romp on without being able to jump right over their fence. My family still has them, and even though I live out of state I like to visit them. They're very friendly with not only my family, but with everyone that visits them. Sure, they represented a few unique challenges, but they were and are worth it..
From MamaCass24 Jan 18 2015 8:47PM
Gives veterinarians an idea of what's inside
This is a very important part of a veterinarian's physical exam. Heart and lung sounds can be a great indication of overall health. For goat kids that are at risk for pneumonia, it is even more important to hear if the lungs are clear or congested. .
From DrHill 67 days ago