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Tennesse Fainting Goat
Historical & Breed Information
Mini Fainting Goat
Breed Information
Tennessee Fainting Goats

These goats have a condition called myotonia congenita, which causes their muscles to stiffen when they're frightened. The degree of stiffness in these goats is variable. Some fall over readily while others rarely exhibit the trait. The "fainting" episodes are fleeting - as anyone who's tried to photograph a "down" goat knows - and painless to the animal. Although they can't move, they remain alert because the nervous system isn't affected.

The breed, which the Livestock Conservancy ( lists as a threatened species, is said to have originated in the 1880's when an itinerant farm worker (who wore a fez-like hat and spoke with a brogue) named John Tinsley came to middle Tennessee with four unusual, stiff goats and a holy cow. The fate of the holy cow is unknown, but the four goats, believed to be the progenitors of today's fainters, wound up with Dr John Mayberry of Marshall County.
As a landrace breed, Tennessee Fainting Goats were always variable in size, color and marking. But selective breeding has led to the emphasis of certain traits over others. Meat producers prefer large and very heavily muscled fainters with high reproductive rates while the pet market has breeders who selectively breed for such traits as coat color, eye color, lack of horns, length of hair and miniature stature.

 While these developments have helped raise the number of fainters, selective breeding cannot help but create major changes in the appearance of fainters over time and inevitably to the creation of new breeds based on fainter stock. We feel that it is only a matter of time before many of these selectively bred fainters would be unrecognizable to the farmers of 100 years ago who raised them.
Another factor influencing the conformation of fainters is diet. Historically, this breed subsisted primarily on browse - brushy plants and small trees - with some pasture, resulting in a very efficient conversion ratio of food to meat. But most of the people who own and love fainters today have neither the acreage nor the browse to provide their goats a traditional diet. So grain and purchased hay have become the major sources of food for this breed. This significant shift in diet, like selective breeding, cannot help but impact the future conformation of the breed.
About Mini Fainters
Breeding small has long been popular among animal fanciers from dogs to donkeys. So it was only a matter of time until Mini Fainters arrived. Mini Fainters are exactly like "regular" fainters, just smaller. With Presswood's Billy the Kidd, 19 inches at the withers, as our first herd sire, we were destined for Minis.

The new Myotonic Goat Registry includes a Mini category. Below is the standard for Minis, taken from the Mini Fainters website on Yahoo Groups.

The Mini breeds will be judged with the same standard as the full size goats with a height restriction. Maximum height of Mini Fainter does is 22½". Maximum height of bucks is 23½". Ideal weight is suggested to be in accordance with height. Age of full height should be 36mo. to allow for growth spurts. (But they don't have to be that old to be exhibited - this is just a guideline.) May be certified as "mini" in Myotonic Goat Registry after 3 years old if you wish.

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