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Thread: Fainting Goats?

  1. #1
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    Default Fainting Goats?

    Is this true? If so, what's happening? Why? A specific breed? Are they good for anything other than fainting?
    John Osthus
    Dairyforums.com Creator and Admin Guy
    St. Louis, MO

  2. #2
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    Middle TN
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    Yes it is true. They have been quite common near here for many,many years, sort of a local oddity I guess. I have seen them drop when someone claps their hands really loud, a gate slams, or even drop when going through the sale ring at an auction. They don't always "drop" or faint, they may just sort of lock-up, somewhat paralyzed for a few minutes. One of the reasons I have heard for their purpose was to protect sheep, say a predator attacked the sheep herd, having a fainting goat in there to drop and give the sheep a chance to get away. Not real sure about that, but it is a plausible story to me. One unique thing about fainting goats is that they are "double-muscled", think Belgian Blue cattle. This kind of brought a revival to a novelty breed as they are useful for cross-breeding to improve the carcass value for meat goats.

    Jared inTN

  3. #3
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    As Jared said, it is true. I have three...two does and a wether. It is a result of myotonia. Myotonia is a genetic condition that causes muscles to contact and remain in a contacted state due to the operation of the potassium channels. So, any time you scare an animal they normally would tense up in preparation of flight or they would carry it through and run. In myotopic animals the muscles contact to begin running or in preparation to run but the muscles do not relax immediately as in a non myotopic animal. "Fainting"is not specific to goats as the trait is found in many species. Obviously from a selective pressure view it would be undesirable in nature as the myotopic animal would be easy prey. Goats are the only animal bred for the trait. In most species it is fatal and the afflicted animals do not live long enough to reproduce.

  4. #4
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    I myself feel faint when its time to exercise.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdiederich View Post
    As Jared said, it is true. I have three...two does and a wether. It is a result of myotonia. Myotonia is a genetic condition that causes muscles to contact and remain in a contacted state due to the operation of the potassium channels. So, any time you scare an animal they normally would tense up in preparation of flight or they would carry it through and run. In myotopic animals the muscles contact to begin running or in preparation to run but the muscles do not relax immediately as in a non myotopic animal. "Fainting"is not specific to goats as the trait is found in many species. Obviously from a selective pressure view it would be undesirable in nature as the myotopic animal would be easy prey. Goats are the only animal bred for the trait. In most species it is fatal and the afflicted animals do not live long enough to reproduce.
    My dad read your description and said it sounds similar to a human muscle cramp we call a "charlie horse", only it's over the whole body.

    He's also seen chickens, particularly young ones, exhibit something similar called "sky-gazing", when they jerk their head back, fall over backward, and just lay there, when frightened.

  6. #6
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    Interesting. This may be at risk of being a stupid question or me not knowing regulars like I should, but are are you a doc, dr?

    Any time somebody starts taking about potassium channels I'm thinking that's farther than average people go into physiology.

    BTW, this made me think of those pigeons. Isn't there a species of pigeon that faints and falls? My memory is fuzzy on this. If I am remembering right, is it the same as in the goats? If so, I wonder how they avoid slamming into the ground.
    John Osthus
    Dairyforums.com Creator and Admin Guy
    St. Louis, MO

  7. #7
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    I can't say anything about pigeons... a little outside my realm of knowledge. As for my education, I am not a veterinarian. I left that to my wife. I thought about it many times but decided I didn't want to spend the money. I did do a science degree for my undergrad and I have audited dozens graduate/doctoral courses in a variety of subjects.
    DiederichFarm
    "You are only as good as your next success, not your last" Sir Jock Stirrup

  8. #8
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    I raise meat goats, we have over 100. We have a couple dozen Myotonic (aka Tennessee fainting goats) The purpose is mainly, they are a Landrace breed of goat here in the USA along with the Spanish goat, as such they are way more tolerant of the parasites, and weather. As the Boers, and even the Kikos to and extent want to keel over, the Boers especially, fragile things in our clime. But the market demands Boer, goat breeders consider them the angus of the goat world. The Myotonic also adds muscle mass, but the muscle on a pure Myotonic is very tough, not good for eating, as they are always tensing. The first time we brought them home I thought I killed them. I was carrying feed and water to them and they ran up a bank in the barn lot, as I tossed feed in the pans the noise caused all 7 to lock up and they fell off the embankment and stayed that way for a couple minutes
    But they make a great doe for crossing with Boer/Kiko cross bucks, the resulting three way cross is much hardier and faster growing, and goat goes for $3 a pound.....
    If your gonna do something do it right or dont do it at all

  9. #9
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    Some folks cross the myotonics with boer goats to get soemthing I think it was called a texmaster? Anyway, their condition transported into the double muscled boer can result in a beefier goat because the myotonia strengthens the muscles.

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