All About Fainting Goats!

Fainting goats have myotonia, stiffening of muscles.  These goat breeds can loose their balance and fall over!  Discover fun facts and characteristics!

Fainting goats have a variety of names including:  scare, myotonic, nervous or stiff-legged goats.

They're originally from Nova Scotia but were first recorded in history, from Marshall County, TN, back in the 1880s.  These goat breeds were almost extinct by the 1980s but are now thriving throughout the world.  Marshall County, Tennessee is named the “cradle” of the Myotonic goat.  They've lived here for decades. 

A man named, Tinsley moved to Marshall County, Tennessee bringing four goats and a cow.  His goats showed nervous, strange, tendencies.  When they became startled, their leg muscles would, temporarily, become rigid causing them to lose their balance and fall over!   When Myotonia, (stiffening of the muscles), sets in they may not, completely, loose their balance and fall over.  Their knees may just buckle, instead.  They do not loose conscious, are not having a seizure and their central nervous system is fine.  Their muscles just tighten up and relax. This startled condition only lasts for about ten to fifteen seconds, then they are up and running again!  Myotonia, actually, helps build more muscle!

Although, a goat faints does not mean it's a "Tennessee fainting goat". 

Discover characteristics of Fainting goats.  Find goat supplies, country jam festival and more!


Their eyes are bulgy, set wide apart and vary in color.  Eye colors vary from shades of brown to shades of deep or icy blue.  Their eye placement gives their head a straight-forward type of profile.


The nose is wider and more rounded than other goat breeds, not sharp or pointed.


Their ears are medium in length.  They may be straight, bend downward at the middle or bend downward and forward shading their eyes.


Variety of colors, with different markings / patterns.


They milk, generously, for about four months. They are, generally, hardy, disease resistant and good mothers.  Most wean their kids on their own.  They are NOT classified as dairy goats.


They're slow to mature so extra care needs to be given when breeding these animals.  They're not fully mature until four years old.  They can live twelve to fifteen years or more with the proper goat care.  They're very calm, proud and easily taught. 


Celebrate goats at the country jam festival Goats Music and More, in Lewisburg, TN.  Here, you'll find lots of activities for kids and adults!  Attend goat shows, browse arts and crafts booths, visit petting zoo, join in country jam music concerts, ride fun rides and more!   

Goats Music and More Country Jam Festival

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.  “Scapegoat” refers to the sheep that escaped with the help of the fainting goats!

(Find Tips for Raising Goats, Goat Supplies & Other Fun Stuff!)

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