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Fainting Goats

October 1 2021

Fall is here! And for many people, this is a perfect time to head to the country and perhaps partake in some traditional autumn festivities, like picking apples, going on hay rides, or navigating corn mazes. Many farm animals also get some extra visitors at this time of year. Others may go to local fairs or petting-zoo events. One of the cuter animals you may see at these events is the Myotonic goat, also known as the Tennessee Fainting Goat. A local Westminster, MD vet discusses these adorable animals below.


The Tennessee fainting is an American goat best known for the fact that they tend to fall over when startled. This is due to a hereditary condition called myotonia congenita. (Interestingly, this same gene has been discovered in humans and mice.) These goats are also known as the fainting goat, falling goat, stiff-legged goat, nervous goat, and Tennessee wooden leg goat. They first set hoof in America in the 1880’s, when settlers brought four of them to—you guessed it—Tennessee.


Myotonic goats look a little different than other goats. Once you learn to recognize them, you may find them easy to spot. They have a pretty broad body. They are somewhat more muscular than the average goat, but smaller overall. You may also notice that Billy has slightly protruding eyes; fairly broad jaws; muscular, wrinkly necks; and horns set close together.


All goats are definitely unique characters. However, fainting goats are very lovable. They are quite trainable, and have become quite popular in classes that offer yoga with goats. Some of them are also now Youtube stars. This isn’t really a surprise: Billy is both adorable and hilarious to watch.


Myotonic goats have the same basic care needs as any other goats: good food; room to roam and forage; a clean, comfy shelter; fresh water; and, of course, proper veterinary care. Goats are herd animals, and will also do better with buddies and things to climb. As far as the fainting part goes, most of the time, you shouldn’t have to worry: goats will take a moment to recover, and then hop back up again. However, it’s a good idea to make sure there aren’t any sharp or dangerous items in Billy’s play area. Also, don’t deliberately startle your goats! 

Do you have questions about fainting goats? Contact us, your Westminster, MD animal clinic, today!