A Breed Like No Other: Fainting Goats

LEWISTON, Minn. (WCCO) — There’s a breed of goats that give true meaning to the phrase “paralyzed in fear.” They’re called fainting goats and the breed is growing in popularity.

On the farms of rural Minnesota, the animals offer few surprises. Even the goat herd on the Schindler farm is somewhat predictable.

“They’re just a sweet pet,” said Cindy Schindler, who owns 40 fainting goats.

It’s a lifestyle that suits this breed, because whenever the unexpected happens, these guys have a tendency to freeze up.

“It doesn’t last any longer than our adrenaline rushes do,” Cindy said.

Their name says it all.

“This is a Tennessee fainter goat. They got several different names: fainters, stiff-legged goat,” Cindy said.

The cause of their condition is a little more complex.

“Some call them myotonic,” Cindy said.

The myotonic condition causes their muscles to lock up if scared, startled or excited.

“It’s only species that they’ve ever found in the world that does this … as a breed,” said Garry Schindler, Cindy’s husband.

In fact, fainting doesn’t begin to describe it. Give the goats a scare and you’ll see flips, flails, even face plants.

“Doesn’t last long, doesn’t hurt them,” Garry said.

Luckily Cindy is there to catch them. She has one of the few fainting goat herds in the state and through the years she’s come to realize their more than just a novelty.

“They’re just a sweet goat,” Cindy said.

Sure, this breed has plenty of shortfalls, but it certainly doesn’t “fall” short of its reputation.

“They’re rare,” Garry said.

It’s believed these goats were once used to protect an expensive herd of sheep. If a predator came around, the goat would freeze up and the other animals could get away.

More from Rachel Slavik
  • Fureal

    Now if we could induce this in criminals and naughty children we would have a winner.

  • TW

    This is the pet for those who are to chicken to do cow tipping. Watching this gives me a combination of feeling sorry for the goats and laughing at how goofy it looks.

  • G Schindler - Billygoat Bluff

    For more information about the “Fainting Goats” there is good info below with links. Its a rare breed and like any animal you should know before you buy.
    Both sites have guidelines to purchasing and breeders directories.

    The first group is dedicated to the “Fainting Goat” and keeping it as close to the original looks as possible – International Fainting Goat Association (IFGA) is here: http://www.faintinggoat.com

    This 2nd group is about preserving the Myotonia feature and will accept 100 -50% goats (hybrids): Myotonic Goat Registry is here:

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