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.
Where did they originate?
Their origin has been sought after by a number of people but it only traces back to the early 1800's when a farm worker appeared in Marshall County, Tennessee, with three does and a buck that fainted. It was thought by his dress that he might have come from Nova Scotia. He was a quiet man and wouldn't talk to anyone so whatever he knew will remain a secret forever. He eventually parted from Marshall County but before he did he sold his goats to Dr. H. H. Mayberry. Fortunately Dr. Mayberry propagated them and tried his best to research their history. He could find no evidence of such a breed anywhere else in the world. He was convinced they were a breed because their unique traits are hereditary.
More about the breed
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. 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.
What color and coat type do they have?
All colors, combinations, patterns, and markings seem to exist. Hair coats can vary from short to long, with many animals producing a noticeable amount of cashmere during the winter months.