What is a Myotonic Goat? What is a Tennessee Meat Goat?
The defining genetic trait is a neuromuscular condition which developed naturally
that causes them to stiffen and sometimes fall over when startled or excited. (Note: This is not a defect.) Meaning in basic
terms, the chemicals in people and in other animals allowing them to react quickly, (ie reflexes) with there
muscles and joints are not delivered when exsited or frightened. These goats are called many things, Tennessee
Fainting Goats (they do not lose consciousness, so they don't in fact faint so this is really not a correct term), wood leg,
stiff-leg, nervous, or scare goats. Out of these common names, stiff-leg is the best to describe them. I personally will always
call them what they are Myotonic Goats. Some breeders will lecture you on the "common names" I do not but remain politically
correct. Myotonia is seen in other species of animal as well. Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD who is noted for his authority
on Myotonia Congentia and Tennessee Fainting Goats says, Myotonia has been extensively studied in humans and somewhat less
extensively in other species. It is an interesting condition, and is painless. The only consistent changes are the lack of
muscle relaxation following contraction, and an increase in muscle mass over animals that lack the condition. The myotonic
condition is strictly muscular, and does not involve the nerves or the brain.
Myotonic goats are a "landrace" breed, meaning they adapt to the conditions in which they live. These goats
are a meat goat and very sturdy and self-sufficient. They are also not fence climbers or big jumpers. Based on this, many
feel they are easier to contain.
There are truly only two totally true "MEAT" goat breeds in this country -- Myotonics and Pygmies.
Every other meat goat breed has significant DAIRY influence. Kiko, deriving from the Saanen. Boers, deriving from the Anglo
Nubian. When you look at it, there are 3 types of goats: meat, milk, and hair/fiber. Myotonics very logically fit into the
"meat" category. True meat goats, do NOT have long legs. You don't eat what is between the belly and the ground. True meat
goats, don't have big udders that will catch/hang/get damaged on briers and other plants in the forests/fields/forage areas.
Meat goats also do not require as much to eat, another reason for smaller udders or bags when kidding. These goats are also
being used more in more for their fiber every day.
The degree of stiffness varies within the breed, with the
meatier, more muscular animals displaying more stiffness. Some Myotonic goats will faint few times in its lifetime based on
the way the gene falls. This gene can be seen heavier in the early stages of a goat’s life becoming less noticeable
with age. Some goats adjust or learn to cope or adapt to the condition. The opposite is also true. A goat may not show heavy
signs of the gene with it becoming increasing noticeably later on in life. There
are even those 100% Myotonic that do not stiffen at all. These are known as "limberlegs". Because of this some percentages
can actually faint better then some Full Bloods. Meaning, it is not the percentage that makes the Myotonia in a goat it is
the bloodline, the gene itself, and how it is carried.
The fainting gene will not take effect on a cross till 62.5% or higher. This does not also mean this
will happen in every cross of this degree. For Pet homes percentages can often be a more costly option when wanting a goat
that stiffens for the sake of having one.
Facial characteristics are bulgy eyes, long & wide muzzle, long ears that come out to the
side, not standing. Fainting goats can be horned or polled (naturally hornless) or disbudded (physically removed). Hair coats
can be long or short. This breed is considered a medium breed but the size varies from mini to very large in size. I personally
have them as small as 17in and as big as any Boer we have ever owned. Based on this triditional size these goats
were "improved" by breeding the larger more muscled blood lines, this was first started with Suzzane Gasparotto at Onion Creek
Ranch in Buda, Texas. These bloodlines were later named the "TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT" or "TMG". You may also hear folks refer
to these lines as "Texas Wooden Leg Goats" as well. (Please see the LINKS page for more info on this breeder.)
Regardless of bloodlines or size maturity is 3 to 4 years of age. Truth be told many breeders
that carry more then one of the "Meat" breeds, i.e. Boers, Kikos, and so on, as well as the Myotonic, have compared the breeds
and meat production. Based on these experiences, most will tell you they have cut back on these other breeds, I know we did,
because of the hardiness of the Myotonic, TMG, and Texmaster goats. They will also tell you they have had just as much meat,
if not more meat come from their carcasses. So the growth, weight, and size does not hurt this breed at all. In face research
has been done to prove this. Virginia State University revealed a meat-to-bone ratio of 4:1, higher than any other breed.
In Texas Dr. Lou Nuti of Prairie View A&M University's International Goat Research Center, has done research showing a
6% - 10% higher meat yield is achieved by using a Myotonic buck on does of other breeds. A Texas neurologist and other researchers,
has stated this type of involuntary isometric muscle contraction could build a more tender muscle than a muscle developed
by strenuous use.
Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg had this to say about Myotonic Goats in 2005;
"Myotonic goats have a very distinctive breed type that is based
mostly on head and body conformation. They also have a muscle condition called myotonia congenita. This inherited trait leads
to an overall increase in muscle mass so that the goats are very muscular when compared to other breeds of similar size. This
trait is so distinctive that it is easy to confuse the trait with the breed. However, the Myotonic goat is much more than
just a myotonic condition; it has a host of other consistent traits that are very important and need to be conserved for future
This breed is a very calm, laid back breed. Myotonic goats are tremendously
smart and very curious of their surroundings. The does of this breed are great mothers, easy kidders and the family ties
are very strong in this breed. These goats are also not considered a seasonal breeder. I have met few people with one Myotonic
Goat, that have not wanted more. We here at Gray Robin Ranch really took to the breed after our first two were purchased.
(For more information on this breed see the LINKS page of this site.)
What is a Texmaster?
Don't listen to all you hear about this breed. The Texmaster is not a cross between a Myotonic
and a Boer. Like the Tennessee Meat Goat this breed started with Suzzane Gasparotto. It involves the TMG and there is a formula
for the Texmaster. If you do not buy from Suzzane Gasparotto or Pat Cotton you will be buying from someone who did. And if
they are not registered though their registry @ Pedigree International, they are not true Texmasters. No matter the breed
you have you will not have the same Texmaster as it is a formula put together by Suzzane. I am not saying the cross of these
breeds are bad, as I have the same crosses here. But they are not the same as the Texmaster. The Texmaster is a genetic make
up of there own and the exact recipe, though you can get them elsewhere once bought from Suzzane, lies with her still to this
day. Pat Cotton is the only other person who knows this recipe and it is not perfected until the 7th generation. That is how
long it takes to cross to the formula, only these two breeders know and have. If you want a Texmaster goat you will need get
it from one of these two breeders or someone who already has, but you will never get a registered Texmaster unless it's roots
and blood line has started with Suzanne herself as the registry is patented by Onion Creek. These are the facts on this particular
breed. (To learn more on these breeders please see the LINKS page of my website.)
What is a Mini Silky?
Miniature Silkies are set apart from other
breeds of goats by their long flowing coat. The longer the better! Mini
Silkies can be found in a variety of colors: blue, brown or marbled eyes and either polled or horned. Does should
not exceed 23.5 inches at the wethers and bucks not over 25 inches.
What are Moonspots?
Moonspots are also found in the breed. What is a moonspot you ask?
Moonspots are mostly round but
not always. They can be anything from a light cream to a dark brown, but they are not white or black. They are superimposed,
or a color on a color, over any other color but white. They can show up anywhere
with no true real pattern. They are almost always dark in color in new kids, they get lighter over time. Because of this,
they are not always seen until adulthood.
Here is a link to learn more.
What's that? You want one, well we now have the genetic in our herd. Grace's Farm in Peru Iowa also has them.