Myotonic goats, which have roots in Tennessee, are often referred to as wooden leg, stiff leg or Tennessee fainting goats. These goats have a recessive gene that makes their skeletal muscles lock up when the animal is startled, causing them to fall over briefly. It is one of the few breeds indigenous to the United States. The Myotonic goat is heavily muscled in the rump and deep in the chest but smaller than the other three major meat breeds. They have good potential for crossbreeding. Since breed numbers are not great, breeding stock may be expensive. The Myotonic characteristic makes them easier to keep fenced in, but may also make them more susceptible to predators.
Associated with their high degree of muscularity is a genetically based condition which causes muscle fibers to contract and render the animal immobile for a few seconds after it becomes startled or excited. It is a curious condition that is becoming better understood through focused research. Details of the condition are published but beyond the scope of this learning module. The breed tends to be dark in color, but there is no preference for particular colors or color patterns.
Myotonic goats sometimes are bred down in size for the pet market. One of the more visible populations is a proprietary population known as the Tennessee Meat Goat, based in Texas,which has been selected for larger frame size and muscling.
The Mytonic breed is used primarily to introduce more muscularity into commercial stock. Prairie View A&M found that any meat goat that was at least 50% Myotonic yielded 6% to 10% more useable meat.
Picture of Mytonic buck is “WCF Simon” owned by M’s Merry Menagerie, Hallettsville, Texas.
Myotonic (Fainting) Goat Associations web pages: