Why do goats faint: True Facts about Fainting Goats

John Boyd

fainting goat

If you ever visit any goat herd, you’ll notice that some goats are not normal. These goats are the members of an American breed called Tennessee fainting goats. Despite their names, they are not truly fainting when they display their characteristic trait of collapse. If you have any questions related to that, you will find all your answers in this article.

Well, it’s all because of a congenital disease named Thompson’s disease. It is also known as a “myotonia congenita”. This hereditary condition affects their skeletal muscles. Thus their muscles get stiff for seconds. Yet, it only lasts for 5-20 seconds. It is not harmful unless they jumped from a height. This breed is known as wooden-leg goats and stiff-leg goats for their muscle stiffness and unusual habit. You can learn more about PPR Disease in goats from here.

These American goats have now become a hyped topic on social media platforms. Myotonic goats are adorable and love to get companionship.  Strange behaviors and silliness make them a famous breed of the American south. More or less, this small domestic breed is also native to North America.

What is a fainting goat?

why do goats faint

Tennessee fainting goats or fainting goats are a special breed of goats that display a peculiar habit of falling over. They have the condition of myotonic congenital. It’s a genetic condition affecting a specific gene telling muscles to tense and instant relax.

Also, this gene pushes the goat’s muscles to reset to relax again afterward. This genetic condition stopped them to behave and respond normally. Normal crossbred goats don’t exhibit fainting behaviors.

Normally, they faint instantly. Whenever myotonic goats feel extreme fear, the whole body of them gets frozen for a second. Because of this genetic imbalance, goats fall over. So technically, myotonic goats don’t faint when they collapse. Every normal person will say that they are doing drama. But, the whole time they remain awake and become helpless.

Fainting Goat Breed facts


Raising a fainting goat is very easy and trouble-free. While most of the goats of other breeds do their best to escape from the pen, fainting goats or also known as myotonic goats are different. These breeds love to stay in the herd.  Best quality meat and enhanced reproductive rate is the major reason for farmers or breeders to have this docile breed of goats.

In short, farmers wanted these goats to make them breed faster. Soon the goats started to change shape. They were bred to be a lot bigger than what they originally were. Tennessee Fainting goats are heavy muscled and known for their delicious meat. Farmers and goat breeders can also raise this unique breed as a fine dairy goat. An adult fainting goat is almost two feet tall and has large curled horns. Hairs of fainting goats are quite luxurious and can be both short and long. Some breed and raise this unique breed only for producing luxurious cashmere hair.

Fainting goats can weigh up to 60 to 175 pounds. Most regular color of this breed is a mixture of black and white color. You can also find one with multiple color combinations. Surprisingly, many animals like cats, dogs, cows, elephants, and horses also have this “Fainting goat syndrome”.

The population number of this unique breed is comparatively low than other breeds of goats. So it is very hard to find or purchase a pure Texas or Tennessee Fainting goat. Many farmers and local breeders start to keep this breed with them for breeding or as a herd protector. In some places, they were essentially used to protect the more expensive animals of the herd.

Why do goats faint?

fainting goat breed

Fainting goats are desirable among peoples for their friendly, quiet and intelligent personalities. Some also raise them to see their peculiar habits. But, do they actually faint?? The answer is no.

They remain alert in the whole fainting situation. Then what actually happens to them? Well, it’s a genetic condition that causes leg muscle stiffness. So when they feel extreme fear or hunger their body starts to freeze for a few seconds. It may seem funny for you but annoying for goats. You might think that they’re acting or being naughty. But the truth is they become very helpless in that particular situation.

The Fundamental symptom of this disorder is seized skeletal muscles. When they get too frightened or scared they start to behave odd and back legs muscles get seized. So if you make a loud and disturbing sound in front of any scared goats then they will get collapsed. Studies have found that myotonic goats only collapse for 10-15 seconds and then stand up immediately.

Though this genetic disorder is not harmful it makes them funny and helpless. All myotonic goats are victims of missense mutation of the CLCN1 gene. Due to this mutation chloride ions get released from the chloride channels of muscle fibers. So when the goat is surprised or scared their muscles tense up. Muscles remain so stiff for a few seconds, causing the goat to collapse.

Fainting time if this breed is different by the goat. The maximum time the animal lays fixed on the ground is around 20 seconds. Fainting time totally depends on the age of the goats. Also, well-hydrated goats display fewer symptoms of fainting.  Younger goats faint more than adult goats. Younger goats suffered more from this genetic disorder. By the passing time, adult goats learn to stay strong unless they feel extreme fear.

The breed of fainting goats developed and popularized in Tennessee. That’s why people called these breeds Tennessee fainting goats. Other animal’s even humans, also have myotonia congenita.

Reason of “fainting goats” scream

Why do they scream like that? Are they worried? Do they have any congenital problems? Now, we are going to discuss this interesting topic of goats. Yelling is one common habit of goats. They yell frequently for many reasons.  Few of them are detailed below:

Communicate with each other:

Mostly goats yell to communicate. Such as, whenever they get hungry they scream. Also, if any animal attacks the herd or they sense any danger, they scream. Mother goats loved to stay close to their kids. So, whenever they get separate mother goats to call their babies by yelling. 


Goats may also scream if they expect something from you. If I share one of my experiences, then one day one of my goats will start to yell so badly. For some time, I couldn’t figure out the reason. Then, I realized that regular time to feed them has passed. They were hoping and expecting to get food. Also, when I feed one of my goats, the second goat might start yelling. It may sound like that, managing a goat’s herd is tough. But honestly speaking, it takes a very short time to handle them after every bloody scream incident.


When they feel fear or any pain they start to yell. When they don’t find anyone around they scream out louder. Surprisingly, they can scream like humans. Like other mammals, they also have a special accent. Researchers discovered that goats’ voices and accent changes as they get older. They were born with a loud and distinctive voice.

What is wrong with fainting goats?

There is nothing wrong with this gentle and domestic animal. Fainting or myotonic goats are the victim of a congenital condition. Though, they never completely lose awareness. These unique breeds do appear to play dead but they don’t feel any physical pain or harm. Whenever the ears and eyes of goats feel that after a while they will faint, they send a quick electrical signal to the brain. 

After this quick response of the brain, both the legs muscles of goats get stiff and goats fall over. Myotonic goats had a chemical imbalance of sodium and chloride in their muscles. So, whenever they get scared, it prevents them from acting or responding normally. Pygmy goats are one of the small breeds of goats that have this genetic disorder. 

Pygmy fainting goats are also called mini-myotonic or miniature fainting goats. Playful friendly nature of them attracts every breeder and farmer. Pygmy goats are a docile breed that is suitable for every type of weather. You can easily raise or control these mini myotonic creatures. Because they can’t climb like other goats due to their short leg and size. 

Some goats get faint regularly and some don’t have this disorder. Therefore, if you are planning to add one fainting goat to your herd then you should do good research on this breed. On YouTube or social media platforms, you can find many types of fainting goat videos. You can get all your required answers and information in these videos. 

frequently asked questions (FAQs)

01. What age do goats start fainting?

Fainting is a birth problem for Myotonic goats. So from an early age, they start fainting.   No one can say the actual age of their fainting. But it was around 2-3 months. When I start to raise these myotonic, I also don’t know the exact age of their fainting. I get really surprised when I see newborn goat kids faint. It depends on each goat. Some display this unusual behavior right after the birth, others around a month, and some longer.

02. Is it harmful to a fainting goat to make them faint?

Fainting is a daily habit of this exceptional breed. So, it’s not injurious or dangerous to these goats. This congenital problem only affects their muscles. Nervous and cardiovascular systems are not damaged by this problem. But the main problem is their jumping. If they jumped from a tall object during fainting they might get hurt badly. People should also take care immediately whenever they see these goats fall over.

03. How much does it cost for a fainting goat?

These goats are extremely popular and familiar among farmers and ordinary peoples. There are many reputable breeders that sell this unique breed. Also you can find one in any farm field. The cost of this unique breed actually depends on its region. Baby fainting goat’s price is around $300 to $500. On the other side, adult fainting goats cost about $200-$400. Fainting baby goats are more expensive than full-grown fainting goats. You can find out more about the price of a goat from here.

04. How long do fainting goats faint for?

Muscle stiffness of fainting goats doesn’t last for long. Only a few seconds then they stood up again. During this 5-20 seconds they remain conscious.  There is no harm from this congenital problem. Usually, it makes their legs rigid so that they fall over instantly. If a goat jumped from height during this myotonic situation then it will be risky for the goat. As a farmer or breeder, you should always stay alert about this situation.

05. Are Fainting Goats good pets?

Fainting goats are wonderful as pets. They are so adorable that you cannot resist yourself to play with them. In fact you can spend an hour by just looking at them. If you have proper knowledge about fainting goats then you can get exciting experiences regularly. They can also give company to your young children. Because socialized and well-treated fainting goats are safe with humans. Also, they can help farmers to control the weed. People love to keep this animal for entertainment or relaxation. 

Final Say

Myotonic goats are delicate, funny, and helpless. Only a few percentage of goats now have this peculiar habit. Nowadays, they have become widely popular as friendly and domestic pets. Farmers and goat owners raise goats for meat and milk. But, some raise these mellow animals as pets for their fun-loving, easy-going personalities.

Sadly, some farmers use these myotonic goats as traps. If any predator attacks the herd then the myotonic goat will collapse by fear. It will take the predator’s attention away from the rest of the herd. Yet, it is one inhuman and prohibited process and people need to stop doing it.

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