Myotonic Goat (Tennessee Fainting)

When I first heard about these goats, I thought that breeding them had to be about the most useless thing I'd ever heard. Other than a novelty, I could see no use for them, and on the farm I am all about the practical.

Then it was mentioned that they are often raised as a meat goat. They are a smaller size meat goat, making them suitable for suburban farms and very small holdings. Now THAT is a use I can get behind! 

But I still had problems where the whole mytonic thing was concerned. Why in the world would anyone KEEP such a trait in them? More research shows that the characteristic which makes them fall down when startled causes generalized muscle stiffness, which intensifies when they are startled. They are less agile, and quite a lot less bouncy than most goats, and it impedes their ability to refine their tendency to be escape artists like most goats. In other words, they are easier to keep confined in iffy circumstances than most goats.

Ok, so I can roll with that! They are useful, and the mytonic element has an advantage, at least theoretical. 

The disadvantage to their reduced agility is that they do have a little higher vulnerability to predators, which would be an issue in some areas, and not in others.

Mytonic goats that have not been crossed with other breeds are short and stocky, with a relatively short neck, and they have excellent parasite resistance.

These goats have somewhat of a following in the pet world also.

  • Type - Meat
  • Size - Small to Medium
  • Production Capacity - Good production of smaller meat carcasses
  • Special Features - Genetic characteristic of stiffening when startled, often causing them to fall and remain still for several seconds.
  • Best for Farms - Mytonic goats are a good option for small farms where space is limited, but meat production is desired.
  • Eggs, Milk, Meat Features - Typical.
  • Other Products - Some demand in pet markets.
  • Historic or Contemporary Significance - Bred throughout the south for heavy muscling, origins are fairly obscure.
  • Housing and Space Requirement - Smaller goat, smaller required spaces.
  • Regional Adaptations - Adaptable to a variety of conditions.
  • Feed Requirement - Typical.
  • Other Considerations - Bloodlines for Mytonic goats can vary widely in characteristics, and some have been crossbred for other traits. Some produce winter fleece, some have been crossed or bred up for heavier meat traits, some have been crossed with Pygmy for reduced size more suited to the pet and microfarm markets. Choose bloodlines for the characteristics you require.



Dairy goats and meat goats are two very different things in most cases, though the kids from dairy goats are often wethered and used for meat. 

Meat goats have a heavier carcass, but do not produce much milk. They will produce enough to nurse twins or triplets, but do not produce for an extended period of time and will dry up quickly.

Generally dairy goats require some extra feed - either grain, or sprouted grain - to produce well. All breeds are not equal in this, and higher producing breeds are often fairly feed inefficient, requiring a LOT more grain to produce a little more milk.

There is no such thing as a true dual purpose goat, they always tend to be stronger in dairy when they are classed as dual purpose.

For the purposes of listing here, weed eating is not sufficient reason to warrant a listing. Wethers are not classed here as utility animals, except for meat production, because keeping an animal just so it can eat is kind of silly, when keeping a milker or regularly replacing the wether so you can produce meat is a much wiser use of resources (yes, even scrub brush is a resource).

I am not a fan of meat goats, though many people are. Goat meat must be aged prior to consumption, to break down the muscle fibers or it is fairly tough. My sister, who raised meat goats, recommended freezing the meat for at least a month, and stated that this will work in lieu of aging the meat.

When comparing breeds, remember that top producing breeds rarely produce that heavily. They generally produce much less than they are advertised to produce. A few quarts of milk per day is considered to be good average output for a milk goat, and 1-2 is more realistic, because they do not produce heavily for an extended period of time, and their milk production will wax and wane as they go into heat, breed, and then building up again after they kid. 

To keep good milk production through the year, you need more than one goat, and they need to be bred at different times. Those breeds that are NOT seasonal have an advantage here, because you can stagger the breeding more, and maintain a more consistent production through the year. The disadvantage to breeds that are not seasonal breeders is that they will go into heat a few months after they birth (or sooner), and plague you once a month or so with a heat cycle that will slightly reduce their milk supply for a day or two and set them to bawling. 

Mini breeds usually give only 1-2 cups per milking, and while they can fit into smaller spaces, they are also much more difficult to milk - they are so small that hand milking is extremely difficult. Some full sized breeds are more difficult to milk for the same reasons.

Milking machines have attachments that are available for standard size, and miniature goats. But a milking maching is a significant investment, and they do not tend to strip out the animals well. Milk production tends to decline more than it does with hand milking, unless they are stripped out manually after using the machine.

Many sources for care of goats will recommend birthing kits, and suggest that goats require a lot of intervention for successful birthing. This is not so. Only those breeds that have been sloppily bred, or breeds like Lamanchas that have more birthing problems than other breeds will require intervention on a regular basis. NEVER EVER assist a goat with a birth (do NOT try to "pull" the kid), unless the goat is obviously in trouble, and has been laboring without progress  for more than a couple of hours. Forcing a birth can cause damage to the uterus and connective tissues in a doe, increases the likelihood of uterine prolapse, and can compromise her ability to birth naturally in the future.

I grew up with goats, and know the routines with trimming hooves, disbudding, milking, and birthing. I have also milked cows, and given the choice, prefer a cow to several goats to supply the need for milk in our home. This in part because of the nature of goat's milk, because I really like to make butter! But in a small space situation, I'd do goats again in a heartbeat.

If a farm has sufficient space for a cow, they are much easier to care for to produce larger amounts of milk. But in small spaces, goats can be kept on less than an acre of land without stressing the land as much.

We have listed only those breeds which we feel have strong utility function, no outstanding issues with birthing or genetic problems, and which can actually be obtained (some types of goat are in closed herds and are not able to be purchased by small farmers).

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