About Myotonic "Fainting" Goats
Common Names: Myotonic Goats & Fainting Goats
Other Common Names: Nervous Goats, Tennessee Peg Leg Goats, Tennessee Fainting Goats, Texas Wooden Leg Goats
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Size: Height: 17 - 25 inches | Weight: 50 - 200 pounds
Fainting Goat Facts
- Fainters have very large prominent eyes (bugged eyed) that come in brown to blue.
- Fainter does are easy kidders and make excellent mothers. They can kid twice a year.
- Fainters come in all colors, combinations, and markings.
- Fainters coats can vary from short to long.
- Fainters can have horns or be polled.
- Fainters are not good climbers or jumpers so they are easy to keep in pens.
- Fainters are hardy, very resistance to disease and parasites.
Tennessee Fainting Goats have been called many different names over the years, Nervous, Stiff Legged, Wooden Leg, Fainting, and Myotonic Goat. Most people will know these goats as Fainting goats or Myotonic goats. As a breed these goats have distinctive, and quickly recognizable characteristics that are only seen in this breed of goat.
|These goats don't actually "faint" and become unconscious, they just stiffen and sometimes fall over when they are unexpectedly startled. Tennessee Fainting Goats have a genetic condition called myotonia that causes their muscles to stiffen when they are startled or get excited. This stiffening often causes them to loose their balance and fall over. They are not having a seizure and it doesn't hurt them. They are fully conscious and once they relax, (10-15 seconds), they get up and are on their way.|
The effects from the myotonia can range from a mere stiffening in the legs, where the goat’s knees are locked, to a complete stiffening of the body, where if the goat is off-balance it will fall over. This stiffening of the muscles builds muscle, much like a body builder would by lifting weights. Tennessee Fainting Goats have powerful muscular bodies and smaller bones, thus a higher meat to bone ratio, which makes them a great meat animal.
Tennessee Fainting Goats are a small to medium sized goat (compared to other breeds) and can be horned or polled. They are a multi-purpose breed, raised for pets, meat, milk and fiber. In general they are a very proud, calm and docile breed, and have personalities that will capture your heart.
One must keep in mind that myotonia is not the only characteristic of this breed. Just because a goat "faints" does not mean it is a Tennessee Fainting Goat.
Some of the most important characteristics of this breed are with their facial features, the eyes and ears, muzzle, and body conformation.
Many of these goats have eyes which look like they protrude from the socket. It is the way the bone is structured that causes the eye to look that way. The bone structure of the forehead, surrounding the eye is rounded and then narrows as it goes back towards the ear. The eyes are set wide apart and tend to face more forward than other breeds. There is often a "break" or "dip" just below the eye, but not dished, separating the head from the facial area.
The ears of the Tennessee Fainting Goat come in three basic styles. All styles of ears are medium in length and width and are held horizontally from the side of the head, but slightly turned so that they are facing forward. At times the ears are fully horizontal, like wings on an airplane, other times facing forward, depending on the mood of the goat.
|1st type.....this ear is straight. It does not have a ripple. |
|2nd type.....this ear will have a slight horizontal ripple, on the inside of the ear, about mid-way, and will bend slightly downward. These ears seem to be straight some days and other days they are slightly bent. |
|3rd type.....this ear will have a more pronounced horizontal ripple on the inside of the ear, about mid-way, and will bend downward and forward, shading the eyes. The ear does not droop at the base, but bends in the middle. |
There isn't a particularly favored ear style, all three are acceptable, but each breeder may have their own preference.
The head of the Tennessee Fainting Goat is short to medium length with a fairly straight profile, a slight dip just below the eye set is common, but not roman nosed as seen in the Boer or Nubian breeds. The nose is medium in length and is wider, flatter and more rounded than other breeds, not "snippy" or "pointed".
Their bodies have an overall greater muscle mass due to the myotonia gene. Young animals show visible signs of increased muscle mass and it increases and becomes more apparent as the animal matures. They are more stocky with obvious width for height. Their body is full, wide and deep, with heavy muscling throughout.
The bones of the Tennessee Fainting Goat appear to be finer than other breeds of similar size, however the bone density is much greater throughout their body, making their bones stronger. This enables them to carry the weight of the extra muscling that naturally occurs with their myotonia.
The muscling should be consistent throughout their body and be heavier in the rear. Muscling increases with age and Does will also show a lot of chest and rear muscling, as well as along the spine.
Coat length varies from short and smooth to long and shaggy. Some animals have a skirting effect around their front and back legs with the rest of their coat being short or medium length. Others have a fairly short coat with longer hair along their spine and combinations thereof. The only type of coat that is not acceptable is one that hangs from the animal in ringlets, like that of the Angora breed.
In the winter months, especially in colder climates, many Tennessee goats will grow abundant cashmere coats, varying from animal to animal. Some will have a short cashmere coat while others have enough that can be carded and spun into a yarn to make gorgeous soft sweaters. Some animals will have such a wonderful cashmere coat that it curls slightly at the tips. These beautiful warm coats will fully shed out in the warmer weather and should not be confused with the Angora type coat.
The Tennessee Fainting Goat comes in all colors. Though some believe the original color of these goats was black and white, there is no proof as to what color the original goats were. Today all colors, combinations, patterns and markings exist. The most common color remains black and white (possibly because it's a dominant color), however, all colors and schemes are acceptable with no color or combination being better than another.
Along with a vast array of coat colors, eye coloring also varies, from the usual brown, with varying shades in between, to the rarer blue ranging from the deep blue to a lighter ice blue.
Tennessee Fainting Goats have a life span equal to other breeds of goats and with proper care can live 12 -15 years or more. They are slow growers and are not fully mature until 4 years old.
They are very feed efficient, meaning they are able to sustain and grow on less feed intake than other breeds of similar size.
Care needs to be taken when breeding these animals because of their slow maturation rate. If the does are bred too soon they may not reach their full adult potential and not become as densely boned as they should causing future problems of not being able to carry their muscle mass once mature. They should not be bred until they are a minimum of 16 months old to make sure their growth isn't effected.
Tennessee Fainting Goats are easy kidders and excellent mothers. First time moms need no encouragement to clean or feed their kids and they are very protective of them. The kids are born alert and are up and about in no time searching for their first drink of milk.
Some kids may start to show myotonia within hours of birth, but most will start showing by 1 month of age with some taking even longer.
Tennessee Fainting Goat does should NEVER be bred to breeds larger than themselves. Breeding does to Boers for the commercial market is a disaster in the making. The babies are way too big for the does and could result in dead kids and a dead doe. If you are breeding for the commercial market always use a Tennessee Fainting Goat buck on Boer does.
From a preservation stand point, using the Tennessee Fainting Goat does in any cross breeding program is truly a shame and a waste of precious female breeding stock. The future of this unique breed is in our hands. Help to preserve them for future generations to enjoy.
All content on this page was found on various websites. We did not write any of this article & do not take credit.
All photos were taken by us, except for the "head/ear" shots.
Click Here to learn more about Fainting goats.
Lisa Johnson of "Thunder Bay Ranch" in Florida also has a lot of great information about Fainting goats. She is also the lady in the fainting goat video at the top of this page.
Things You’ll Need:
Keep at least three fainting goats. Goats are herd animals and will get lonely if kept alone.
Construct a pen for your fainting goats. The pen should be fairly roomy, and the fences need to be safe for goats (i.e., no wire for them to get cut on and nothing to get stuck in). Make the fence solid and strong enough not only to keep your goats in, but also to keep other animals out, as fainting goats are particularly susceptible to dogs, coyotes and similar predators.
Build or install a suitable shelter for your fainting goats. Shelters should be free of drafts and must have at least three sides to protect your fainting goats from the elements. Harsher climates may require a small barn that you can completely close goats within during snow storms.
Provide your fainting goats plenty of clean water. Buckets or shallow tubs make suitable containers, as long as the goats are not in danger of falling in during "fainting" spells.
Locate a local veterinarian that treats goats. Keep their contact information on hand in case of an emergency.
Enjoy the company of your goats. Fainting goats are noted for making very good pets and can be quite affectionate.
The fainting goat's diet consists mostly of grain and hay, though they will eat just about anything and everything.
Things You’ll Need:
Survey goats' pasture grounds and assess grazing conditions. Fainting goats will eat most weed and grass varieties and even vegetation such as dried tree leaves.
Feed goats unlimited amount of grass hay.
Supplement hay with a grain mix twice daily. Most grain mixes contain oats, barley, and vitamin and mineral supplements. Fainting goats only need about 1/4 lb. of grain per feeding, totaling 1/2 lb. per goat per day.
Remove any uneaten feed by the next day and replace with fresh feed.
Provide milking goats with extra protein. You can buy grain mixes with additional protein and feed good quality hay.
Provide a loose mineral at all times to ensure adequate mineral intake.
Continually monitor your fainting goats' weight and eating habits. Adjust your feeding routine as necessary. For example, if your goats consistently waste a fair amount of hay, simply offer them a bit less. If they are losing weight, offer more feed or better quality feed.
History of Myotonic "Fainting" Goats
In the 1870-1880's, an old man named John Tinsley appeared in Marshall County, Tennessee. He brought with him four goats that would stiffen and sometimes fell over if startled. He wore strange clothing and where he was from remains a mystery to this day. He worked in Marshall County for a year, then sold his goats to Dr. H.H. Mayberry. Shortly thereafter, Tinsley left one night and was never heard from again. The heavily muscled goats were later classified as a meat breed and highly prized for their meat. All Myotonic goats in existence within this country have descended from these first four goats, and it is the history that is known today. It is obvious from their history that myotonic goats by whatever name they are called, is a true American breed.
Our Herds History
On September 30, 2011 we purchased our first trio of fainting goats (1 buck named "Rango" & 2 does named "Bluebell" & "Freckles") from Mr. Ray Fugatt & his wife of "Hickory Branch Farm" in Moss Bluff, LA. In 2009 Mr. Ray bought his entire herd of myotonic goats from Mr. Myron Johnson (a long time breeder) of "Coyote Creek Ranch" in Gainesville, Florida. Mr. Ray made four trips back & forth from Louisiana to Florida to get these goats (almost 800 miles one way). He purchased over 50 myotonic goats from Coyote Creek Ranch. Mr. Myron no longer raises goats, but his daughter Lisa Johnson still does. Lisa still has many of her dads goats. Coyote Creek Ranch is now known as "Thunder Bay Ranch" in Florida & is owned by Lisa. Lisa Johnson's fainting goats have been on TV several times. She is also the lady in the fainting goat video at the top of this page. Please visit her website to see more videos & photos of her goats. Many of Mr. Myron's foundation goats came from a man named Mr. David Autry of "Hayes & Autry Livestock Ranch" aka HALR. Mr. David Autry started raising Myotonic goats in the early 1960's in Lexington, Tennessee. In the mid to late 80's Mr. David went to Marshall County, Tennessee to Walker Estate & purchased Mr. Walker's herd. Mr. David never crossed his goats with any other breed of goat & kept the bloodline pure. Mr. David no longer raises goats, but his son Wes & his wife still does. Wes still has many of his dads goats. HALR is now known as "Autry Farm's" in Tennesse & is owned by Wes. Please visit his website to see photos of his goats. In July of 2014 we decided to add a new bloodline to our herd... that is when we found a breeder near by (Gregory Monier of "Moonshine Myotonics" in Ville Platte, LA) who bought several Myotonic goats from Mrs. Debbie Mullins of "Woody Creek Farm" in Petersburg, TN. We bought two 7 month old does ("Sweet Magnolia" & "Blackberry") from Mr. Gregory out of the Woody Creek bloodline. Both of the does we purchased have grandfather's & great grandfather's who are grand champions. In March 2015 Mr. Gregory decided to sell all of his Woody Creek does & he called to offer them to us first. Well, we couldn't resist so we bought all 6 does & 1 young buck. We bought 4 grown does & their 3 kids. All but one of the Woody Creek goats have fathers & grandfathers that are permanent/national grand champions (Hotrod, Maverick, & Mustang, you can see photos of them on Woody Creek Farm's website). We kept some of them & sold the rest.
So as you can see, all of our fainting goats are related to Coyote Creek Ranch, HALR, & Woody Creek Farm's fainting goats which trace these goats all the way back to the original fainting goats in Marshal County, TN. We are now the 5th breeders to own & breed/raise these amazing goats. We are very proud of our herd & we look forward to being a part of this fascinating breed!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ's)
Below are links to various websites on goat care, goat health, about myotonic/fainting goats, ect...