So, What are fainting goats?
~A little background on "fainting" goats~
Have you ever heard of the expression, “scapegoat”? Some scholars say, shepherds kept fainting goats with their flocks of sheep as insurance against predators. When wolves or other predatory animals would attack a flock of sheep, the goats would become startled and faint. The wolves or other predators focused so much on the stunned goats, the sheep were able to flee and escape. They sure had humble beginnings!
What Are Fainting Goats??
Fainting goats have many other names, including Myotonic Goats, Tennessee (Meat) Goats, Nervous Goats, Stiff-leg Goats, Wooden-leg Goats, and Tennessee Fainting Goats.
Slightly smaller than standard breeds of the goat, fainting goats are generally 14 to 25 in tall and can weigh anywhere from 30 to 150 lb. They have large, prominent eyes in high sockets. Their hair can be short or long, with certain individuals producing a great deal of cashmere during colder months.
They are smaller and somewhat easier to care for and maintain than larger meat goat breeds, which makes the fainting goat desirable for smaller farms. They are also raised as pet or show animals as they can be friendly, intelligent, easy to keep, and amusing. The "Fainting Goat" myth was tested on the U.S. television show Mythbusters.
This breed is listed as threatened by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy so the fainting goat is not used as often for chevon as other meat goat breeds; its rarity makes the live goat more valuable. The fainting goat is specifically specialized for smaller production operations as they are unable to challenge fences as vigorously as larger meat goat breeds. This is due in part to their smaller size and also because of the myotonia. Their size makes them easier to care for during chores such as foot trimming and administering medication. Smaller specimens of fainting goats are frequently kept as pets. Their temperament is very laid back and gentle. They are easy kidders and excellent mothers. Reproduction traits differ and some are seasonal kidders while others will breed year round. Fainting goats are easy to raise, easy to contain, can be a great meat animal, and are safe for children and neighbors. Fainting goats generally have large and prominent eyes. This feature is often referred to as bug-eyed or pop-eyed. These terms can be misleading, though many have eyes which seem to protrude form their sockets most often it's the structure of the eye socket itself that produces this feature.
What is Myotonia?
Myotonia is the condition that causes Fainting goats to stiffen and/or fall over when startled. This condition is caused by a combination of recessive genes. Fainting goats can show varying degrees of myotonia. When startled some will fall to the ground with their entire bodies perfectly stiff and rigid. Others will only stiffen in their limbs and not fall to the ground. The condition lasts for ten to fifteen seconds after which time the animal will rise and walk off stiff, still showing a noticeable degree of stiffness in their back limbs. After a short time this stiffness will disappear and they will walk and act like any other goat. This condition only affects their external muscles so while in a myotonic state the animal is fully conscious and aware of its surroundings. In no way does this condition affect their life span and with proper care they will live just as long as any other breed of goat.