You’ve probably seen videos of fainting goats on YouTube. When they’re startled, their legs stiffen and they fall over, much to everybody’s amusement. What causes the fainting? Does it hurt? And why would breeders select for this trait? Here are 5 fun things you never knew about fainting goats.
#1 – They don’t actually faint
Fainting goats suffer from a genetic muscle condition called Myotonia Congenita, which can also occur in humans. When a goat is startled, his muscles freeze for up to 20 seconds, which can cause him to tip over and appear to faint. They never lose consciousness.
#2 – It doesn’t hurt
Myotonia Congenita only affects the muscles, not the nervous system or the brain. As the goats grow up, they learn to lean against something or even totter around on stiff legs without falling over.
#3 – They go by many names
Fainting goats are also called Myotonic Goats, Tennessee (Meat) Goats, Nervous Goats, Stiff-leg Goats, Wooden-leg Goats, and Tennessee Fainting Goats.
#4 – They were raised for meat
Fainting goats were originally bred for their meat. Since they’re smaller than other meat goats and their myotonia makes it harder for them to climb fences, they’re easier to keep than larger meat goats. Now the novelty of fainting goats makes them worth more alive.
#5 – Tennessee has a goat festival
Marshall County, Tennessee hosts the “Goats, Music, and More Festival,” where fainting goats are honored. While the festival is centered on goats, it also has activities including music, art, festival games, crafts show, food vendors, and children’s activities.