Fainting Goats

Fainting Goats – Meat and Pets

Fainting Goats

The domestic fainting goat is more properly called a Myotonic goat. As its more common name suggests, the breed is best known because its muscles momentarily freeze for several seconds when the goat panics. This, to humans, looks like the goat appears to faint. This “freezing” is harmless and painless to the goat and is actually the result of a genetic disorder – Myotonia Congenita. Though by adulthood most goats have learned to deal with the disorder (They simply walk stiffly or lean on something for support), kids often collapse when it happens. It is important to note, however, that unlike their name suggests, Fainting Goats never actually lose consciousness when they “faint.” This is simply a commonly held mistaken belief people because of their name.

Fainting Goats have several names including: The Tennessee Meat Goats, Wooden-Leg Goat, Stiff-Leg Goat, Tennessee Fainting Goat, and the Myotonic Goat. Each year, an annual festival celebrating this very well-known breed is held in Marshall County, Tennessee.

A Fainted Tennessee Fainting Goat
A Fainted Tennessee Fainting Goat

Facts about Myotonia Congenita

Though Fainting Goats are the most common sufferers of the condition, they are not the only animal that it affects. Here are some other facts about Myotonic Goats and the Myotonic Condition:

  • Myotonia Congenita has been studied at length by Philip Sponenberg who remains the expert on the condition and Fainting Goats.
  • Myotonia Congenita affects humans and has been extensively studied in humans as well. Like it is for goats, the condition is completely painless for humans.
  • Myotonia Congenita is a condition of the muscle system. It has nothing to do with the nervous system or a brain condition.
  • The condition is characterized by a lack of relaxation of muscles following a contraction.
  • Animals who suffer from the condition often have more developed muscles than their counterparts who do not.

Characteristics of the Fainting Goat

Fainting Goats tend to be slightly smaller than most breeds of goat. They typically stand anywhere from 17 to 25 inches tall and very in weight from around 60ish pounds all the way up to 175 or so. Bucks can even occasionally grow larger and weigh over 200 pounds.

Facially, Fainting Goats have prominent, large eyes. This is one of their most noticeable features as most goat’s eyes do not protrude like a Fainting Goat’s eyes do. As for their coats, they can be long or short. Some Fainting Goats even produce cashmere. There is no stand coloration for Fainting Goats as they can be anything with both black and white being popular colorings.

Raising Fainting Goats

Because of their smaller size, Fainting Goats tend to be easier and less expensive to care for than larger meat producing breeds. For this reason they remain popular on small farms. Due to their intelligence, smaller size, and friendliness, Fainting Goats are often chosen as a pet goat breed.


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