Fainting Goat History & Herd Health

The History of Tennessee
Fainting Goats

Tennessee Fainting Goats are known by several other names. Myotonic goats, Wooden Leg goats, Nervous Goats, “Stiff Leg” goats, and “Fallin’Down” goats. I first heard of them while working in Honey Brook, PA. I passed an Amish farm on the side of the road each day, and they had a sign up that said “fainting goats for sale”. One of the ladies I worked with has a daughter who has always wanted one, and she told me about driving by and watching them fall down at sudden noises, or cars backfiring.

Fainting Goats have a genetic characteristic know as Myotonia Congenita, which means their muscles stiffen up when startled or excited, but cannot loosen up right away, which means the goats sometimes “faint”. They do not lose consciousness during a faint, and it does not hurt them. A typical faint lasts somewhere between 15 and 20 seconds, although they can last longer if the animal is particularly excited. As adults they often learn to compensate and faint less often, but are seen to stiffen up and brace themselves, or even to run with their hind legs stiff. I get my best faints at feeding time when my goats see me coming in the morning with a grain bucket.

Their origin in unknown, but they are thought to originate in Marshall County Tennessee. The way the story goes, a man named John Tinsley arrived in the County with 3 nannies and a billy goat that fainted. He is said to have been an itinerant farm worker. He sold the goats a year later to Dr H.H. Mayberry and then moved away from the area, and was never heard from again. It is believed that these 4 goats were the original 4 fainters from which the breed developed.

The fainter is a medium sized goat, and muscular in build. The traditional colors are thought to be black and white, but they now come in a variety of colors and hair lengths. They are excellent mothers, easy kidders with ample milk production. They are hardy and are thought to be somewhat more parasite resistant than other breeds of goats. Their myotonia makes it harder for them to climb, and therefore makes them easier to fence and raise than other breeds of goats.

Why do I raise fainting goats? Because they are rare, and they are really fun. We always wanted to raise a rare breed, and we found one that suits our needs perfectly. My stock has been carefully selected and my breedings are planned well in advance of breeding season. I do not raise any other type of goat, so there is NO possibility of a crossbreed.

     Herd Health     

We take the health of our goats very seriously. We want you to have a healthy, top quality goat. Nothing less is acceptable. They are tested annually for CL, CAE and Johne’s. These are 3 devastating goat diseases and you do NOT want them in your herd. My herd is now closed, and will be tested again before the sale of any stock this coming winter and spring.

Mary Walsh
Spring City, PA 19475


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