This is a page where you can see several old documents about the breed. Sometimes it may be a link to click on instead. The common threads in ALL articles seem below talks about their ability to faint , unable to jump or climb, and they all use the term FAINTING NOT MYOTONIC. Enjoy reading!
This is a video that shows a lot about the history of the Fainting Goats. It begins with an international goat show and there are lots of different breeds but then it becomes focused on the Fainting Goat Breed.
January 25, 1945
Written by Loel D. Jones and republished in 2007
“In my article on Dec 28, I referred to what a soldier had to say about some goats whose milk they used. ”Fainting Goats”. He said that they were like some goats that Mr. Bob Godde of Gastonburg owned. He said some of the people where he was from called those ‘‘Fainting Goats.” Mr. Goode read the article in the Democrat Reporter and sent me a story of the goats, and asks if I think it would be of interest to the readers of the Democrat Reporter, I herewith give it as Mr. Goode gave it to me.”
“I was scared stiff.” Most folks when they say that don’t mean it literally. They just meant that they were pretty well scared. But in the pasture behind my house at Gastonburg, Alabama, I have a flock of goats, and if those goats could only talk, they would say, “I was scared stiff,” and it would be absolutely true.”
“Any unexpected noise or the sudden appearance of an intruder will send these goats into a most peculiar fit. As touched by a wand waved by a weird magician, the goat, the goats as when frightened, instantaneously stiffen into little marble statues. Literally, they became scared stiff. If they happen to be firmly balanced on all four feet at the moment of seizure, they remain upright. On the other, hand, if they are off balance or moving when a spasm occurs, they topple over on their sides, their legs sticking out into the air like iron pikers. An attack last anywhere from a fraction of a second to half a minute, depending on how badly the goats have been frightened. Recovering they move off stiff-legged for a few seconds and then scamper on about their business, completely devoid of ill effects.”
“Because of the manner in which they are affected, they are variously known as Epileptic, Stiff-legged Fainting and Nervous Goats. The intensity of the reaction seems to be largely dependent upon the suddenness of the noise or appearance and the extent to which they are startled. If it is very sharp and sudden, they invariable fall in a fit and become perfectly stiff and incapable of moving, otherwise, they hesitate momentarily and then go off dragging their stiff hind legs.”
“In my back lot now there is a small flock of these epileptic goats. Some are as tame and playful as a puppy-dog. If they see me coming they will run to meet me, and if I hold a morsel of food beyond reach, they rear up against me trying to get it just the way a dog would. Ever hopeful of something more to eat, they try to block my path after I have fed them and start to walk back towards the house.”
“To watch them at play, no one would ever guess that these goats were not perfectly normal animals. In size, color, and markings they look just like any other goats, look like others that is, until they are seized by an attack and then they don’t look like anything else on earth.”
“Not long ago, for instance, I walked briskly around the corner of the barn and ran smack into the flock of goats. They were busy at that particular instant eating a midday dinner of corn shucks and they hadn’t, of course seen me approaching. My sudden appearance proved to be a great shock. Every one of those goats fell over on its side and lay there as inflexible as ramrods for a few seconds. Then they got up and returned to their dinner as though nothing had happened. I have been keeping epileptic goats over 20 years now and during that time I have become moderately accustomed to the idiosyncrasy, but a mass attack as I have just described is still a bit startling, even to me, and such an attack is certain to leave an impression upon the person witnessing it for the first time. “
“I’ve heard a story about a new hired man who a few hours before a barbecue, was given a gun and told to go into the back pasture and kill one of the goats. He was advised that the goats were very shy and that he should be very careful not to apprise them of his presence until ready to shoot. After crawling up cautiously, he picked out a nice kid, took careful aim and fired. Goats dropped in every direction, some 30 animals collapsing simultaneously. Without waiting for the resurrection he ran back to the house. “I don’t know how it happened” he panted. I only shot once but I killed every damn one of them goats.”Mr. Goode says that, “Dr. C.A. Cary, the state Veterinarian of Alabama, had several of these epileptic goats and knowing that I would be interested, he invited me over to Auburn to see them. We walked into a field, and at sight of us every goat stiffened or fell. It was unquestionably the strangest sight I had ever seen, and I have been trying to discover the why, where, and when of the phenomena ever since. Thought I don’t’ particularly like to admit to it, I don’t know a great deal more about this condition today than I did then, and neither does anyone else.”
“Through the years, I have succeeded in locating flocks of these epileptic goats in various sections of the South. And the strange fact is that every one of the goats I have ever located can be traced back to a billy and three nannies which turned up in Marshall County, Tenn. in the early 1880’s.”
Comments: This article seems to point to a few questions people often have about the breed.
- The first sentence leads us to believe that the Fainting Goat may have been useful for milk. It’s hard to find any documentation of the original usage. Many believe they were used as brush goats. This was long before the classification of a meat goat was made.
- Mid-way through this article you find this statement. “They are variously known as epileptic, stiff-legged, Fainting and nervous goats. There is no mention of Myotonic goats since this term didn’t appear until the late 1900’s.
- In size, color and markings they look like any other goats. There is no mention of them only being black and white.
- The last thing mentioned was the fact they all seem to trace back to the original goats found in Marshall County Tennessee in 1880.
A New And Sensitive Breed December 20, 1929
Comments: The goats are referred to as interesting & peculiar. They also call them epileptic, fainting, nervous or stiff legged. In the early days NOBODY called them Myotonics. They describe them as normal looking with a variety of colors. They talk about their “fits” or “fainting”
The Journal of Heredity
NERVOUS” GOATS “IN ACTION”
Comments: Both pictures below show what the head and eyes should look like. They should be broad with good width between their eyes. The ears are not up or down but are held out. These goats appear to have nice bones, not refined.
These two photographs show individuals in a Texas herd, in the act of falling to the ground as a result a stimulus. In the lower picture the kid is affected while its mother is not, as all members of the herd are rarely affected simultaneously.
Comments: This article again talks about their fainting and their inability to climb. It also states something that I feel is very important! “A kid has been born since these goats have been under our observation, and it presented all the characteristic “nervous” and “fainting” symptom of its parents before it was three hours old. ” This shows that true purebred goats must faint! Not just have other characteristics.
December 25, 1929
GOATS FAINT AT
Alabama Legislator Has Mysterious
Birmingham, Ala.—R. J. Goode, Insurance
man and member of the legislature
from WD cox county, has a
breed of goats that have aroused curiosity
and Interest of every one who
has seen them.
They are described as “epileptic.”
“fainting,” “nervous” or “stiff-legged”
goats. Mr. Goode came into possession
of a pair of the animals about ten
years ago and now has 15 on bis place
at Gastonburg. The origin of this
unusual breed is shrouded in mystery,
and every effort made by Mr.
Goode to trace their history has
ended in failure.
In appearance these goats seem to
be exactly like any ordinary goat, having
about the usual size and varied
The interesting and peculiar thing
about them is the fact that on being
suddenly startled In any manner they
fall to the ground, becoming perfectly
rigid and stiff, giving the appearance
of an epileptic fit, or of an animal
suffering from convulsions following
strychnine poisoning. This condition
lasts for about ten or fifteen seconds,
after which the animal arises and
walks off, showing a decided stiffness,
especially In the posterior limbs, for
some little distance, after which time
It walks and acts Just as any other
These “fits” or “fainting” spells can
be produced by any sudden excitement
which will startle them; A sudden
loud noise or appearance will always
produce the reaction. On the other
hand, if one should walk slowly in
plain view toward the goats they will
not fall to the ground but will merely
show a stiffness In their hind legs
when they begin to move away.
Another peculiar characteristic is
that the goats cannot Jump3 a fence
even as low as two feet; they cannot
Jump up into the feed troughs, nor
can they jump a ditch of more than
two feet In width. It seems that the
mere attempt either to Jump a fence
or a ditch brings on a stiffness of
muscles and, in some cases, causes
them to fall to the ground in a “faint”
This strange phenomenon Is seen In
all of the offspring of the pure-bred
goats without exception. The very
young kids often fail to show any
Indication of being so affected, but as
they acquire a little age the character*
istlcs become more and more marked,
so that before the animal is one year
of age the characteristic Is fully developed.
It Is said by some scientists
that this shows that the characteristic
is not pathological in origin but a hereditary condition.
Nervous, Stiff-Legged, or Fainting Goats
by Drs. Geo.R. White and Joseph Plasket, Nashville, Tennessee
Comments: This article written by Dr. Geo R. White & Dr. Joseph Plaskett states they look like ordinary goats. Again there is no mention of the only color being black and white. They too refer to the goats as nervous, stiff-legged or Fainting Goats. They point to the fact that the advantage of this breed is that they can be kept in prescribed grounds. This tells me that to be a Fainting Goat; the goat Must show signs of some degree of Faint-Ability, not just having some of the other traits. Fainting is what these goats are known for.
The Albany Herald quotes Katy Majewski from the American Tennessee Fainting Goat Association as saying “they are docile, small and colorful.
Comments: Once again this tells nothing about them being only black and white. I love the black and white goats. I have several of my own. I think they are very flashy however I don’t not think that the original ones were just black and white. There is too many times that they are referred to as looking like all other goats and being very colorful.