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Facts and Information
Myotonia congenital is a condition in which the muscle cells freeze when the goat is startled. This breed has various lay terms such as Myotonic, Tennessee Fainting goats, Tennessee Meat, and many more. These goats do not lose consciousness, hence they don’t faint, rather they do stiffen, resulting in the animal collapsing on its side. This is a painless process and does not affect the nerves or brain. With age some goats will learn to spread their legs or lean against something when startled.
Myotonic goats have a very distinctive breed type that is based mostly on head and body conformation. However, the Myotonic goat is much more than just a myotonic condition. It has a host of other consistent traits that are very important and need to be conserved for future generations. Several important characteristics are docile temperament, abundance of high quality muscle, good adaptation to low-input forage-based feeding systems, and genetic distance from other breeds such that crossbreeding yields great hybrid vigor. www.myotonicgoatregistry.net
The breed’s history can be traced back as far as the 1870s from Nova Scotia. A man by the name of John Tinsley was known to have brought these unusual, stiff goats with him to Marshall County, Tennessee. These goat soon were known across the region and farmers quickly began to appreciate them for their muscular conformation and high reproductive rate. They are also well known to be less apt to climbing fences and escaping from pastures rather than other goats.
During the 1940s/1950s some of these goats were taken from Tennessee to Texas. Here they were selected for meat qualities and larger size and were known as “Wooden Leg” goats. Later in the 1980s, both Tennessee and Texas rediscovered the new enthusiasm for the goats which diverged into two major groups. One was of breeders working toward the historic tradition of the meat qualities and selecting for growth rate, conformation and reproductive efficiency and the other selected for extreme stiffness and small size, promoting the breed as a novelty animal.
As a landrace breed, Myotonic Goats have adapted to fit the local conditions in which they live. They are very muscular and self sufficient, ranging in weight from 80-120 pounds. Mature bucks of lines selected for larger size can weigh as much as 200 pounds, with some advertised at weights above that. While small companion animals can be as light as 50 pounds at maurity and as short as 17 inches at the withers. Their ears are larger and more horizontal than the Swiss breed, but smaller and less drooping than the Nubian or Spanish goats. These goats mostly have short hair, but longhaired goats are not unusual and some even produce cashmere and are found in almost all colors known in goats. Myotonic Goats are easy to train, require minimum facilities, and are unique enough to be conversation pieces. Their antics are fun to watch. Sometimes they fall over for no apparent reason and will make you laugh.
As a local breeder of Marshall County Tennessee I keep all my goats 100% Myotonic. My goals are to preserve the breed, show and pet quality.
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