SVF Foundation

Tennessee Myotonic Goat

Tennessee Fainting Goat

The goats of this breed have a host of names: Myotonic, Tennessee Fainting, Tennessee Meat, Texas Wooden Leg, Stiff, Nervous, and Scare goats. The name refers to a breed characteristic known as myotonia congenita, a condition in which muscle cells experience prolonged contraction when the goat is startled which can cause the goat to fall down. The degree of stiffness varies from goat to goat.

The breed’s history can be traced back to the 1880’s when an itinerant farm laborer named John Tinsley came to central Tennessee, reputedly from Nova Scotia. Tinsley had with him four unusual, stiff goats. Goats of this type gradually became known across the region as they were less apt to climb fences and escape from pastures than other goats. Their muscular conformation and high reproductive rate were also valued.

The Tennessee Myotonic goat is gaining attention for its combination of meat traits with reproductive efficiency, and it is increasingly recognized as an important genetic resource in the United States.

SVF’s first frozen embryo transfer was a Tennessee Myotonic goat, “Chip”, who is now a life-long resident and mascot of our farm – read more about his story here.

About the Breed

Goat graphic

United States (Tennessee)

United States

Meat and dairy


Quick Fact:
Myotonic goats originated from a landrace breed, meaning that they can have many different characteristics, especially in coat color, yet are still part of the original breed

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