Disorder causes goats to stiffen and ‘faint’ when frightened

Daybreak

The animals aren't actually fainting, but it can be a sight to see

(WYTV) – Goats can “faint.” It’s called myotonic goats when something surprises or scares them, and their muscles go stiff for a short time and they fall over.

There are other names for it — wooden-leg goats, stiff-leg goats and scare goats.

This doesn’t hurt them and they’re not really fainting. The goat stays awake and just bounces back up once the stiffness goes away.

Their muscles lock up due to a rare genetic disorder called myotonia congenita.

Some other animals have this condition, too, including horses, dogs, cats, mice and even people.

Myotonic goats first appeared in this country in the 1880s. We’re not sure how they got here.

One explanation says it was a natural mutation in a Tennessee goat herd. Another theory says a farm worker named John Tinsley brought four of the goats to Marshall County, Tennessee from Nova Scotia, Canada. After a while, “Tennessee fainting goats” spread across the South.

Scientists even have an official scale of stiffness for fainting goats. A goat rated “1” almost never locks up, while one rated “6” is always a little bit stiff and easily topples over.

Fainting goats are bred for meat and milk, but some people keep them as pets. They’re less likely to escape than other goats because they are not good at jumping or climbing.

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