March 2013 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


Myotonic goats have an obscure origin. Sometime during the 1870's, they showed up in Tennessee. In the 1940's, a group of the larger Myotonic goats was imported from Tennessee to Texas by Boone Heep of Buda, Texas. After Mr. Heep's death, this property went through a series of owners during which time the goats were moved off the place. I bought that property in 1988, having no knowledge of the history of Myotonic goats. By sheer coincidence and quirk of fate, I began acquiring Myotonic goats, raising them, and improving the breed...... only later to learn that the original Texas herd of Myotonic goats resided at my very own ranch.

Myotonic goats are a distinctly landrace breed, which means that they have adapted to fit the local conditions in which they live. Having no dairy influence and being very muscular, they are 100% MEAT goats. Muscling is developed when the neuro-muscular condition known as myotonia causes their rear legs to stiffen and relax (like humans who lift weights) as they rise from a sitting position or are startled and begin to run. The degree of stiffness varies, with the meatier, more muscular animals displaying more stiffness. Myotonia occurs in the muscle fiber... not as a function of the central nervous system.... and causes no problem for the goats. In no way should myotonia be considered a defect in goats.

Though sure footed and adaptable to varying terrain, these goats are not fence climbers and are easy to keep fenced. Predator problems are no more serious with Myotonics than with any other breed of goats. All goats are sprinters -- not long-distance runners -- and cannot outrun predators. Guard dogs and good fencing are essential with every goat breed.

Myotonic goats have been improved by breeding larger, more heavily muscled fullblood myotonics to unrelated, larger, and heavily muscled myotonics at Onion Creek Ranch since 1990. In order to distinguish these improved myotonic goats, I have named and trademarked these larger, heavily muscled Myotonic goats as TENNESSEE MEAT GOATS™.

With increasing interest in Myotonics, people are beginning to make the same mistakes that have been the downfall of Boers in the USA: the "if it is bigger, it has to be better" approach to breeding. Unfortunately, some folks are crossing fullblood Myotonics with larger breeds such as Boers and continuing to call them fullblood Myotonics. I have heard of one producer who refuses to acknowledge that Myotonic is a breed and therefore calls any goat with some amount of myotonia in it a "Myotonic" goat. Such goats are goats that display myotonic influence -- NOT fullblood Myotonics.

If you as a producer decide to buy a Myotonic goat, first be sure that you know what a Myotonic goat really is and what it looks like. For example, fullblood Myotonic goats do not have loose skin and dewlaps like Boers. They have dished faces and short ears. Buy only from reputable established breeders with a history of properly representing the breed.


<--- Young Myotonic bucks at Onion Creek Ranch

All fullblood Myotonic goats born of Onion Creek Ranch genetics are eligible to be considered for certification as Tennessee Meat Goats™. Onion Creek Ranch has been breeding fullblood Myotonics since 1990. Only heavily muscled, deep-bodied, fullblood Myotonics are bred to other unrelated heavily muscled, deep-bodied, fullblood Myotonics. No other breed has been used to accomplish this goal. Offspring that meet OCR criteria are designated as Tennessee Meat Goats™ around one year of age so that the goats have time to develop muscling and I am able to evaluate both their existing body conformation and their potential for further development. No other goat program influences this certification process.

In 2008, the TMG Prospect Program was introduced to permit producers to purchase Myotonic males at weaning that I believe have the potential to be certified as Tennessee Meat Goats™. Certification inspection will be done either in person or via video or still photographs at 18 months of age, allowing time for the goats to adapt to their new homes and to the new owner's management practices. TMG certification allows producers to register their OCR genetics with Pedigree International in the Tennessee Meat Goat™ herdbook. Please contact Suzanne Gasparotto at 325-344-5775 or email or Pat can be reached at 501-581-5700 or by emailing


When buyers inquire about availability and price, it is Onion Creek Ranch's policy to ask questions about the buyer's goat-ranching operations, experience, and intended goals so that we can provide the proper type of meat goat to achieve those goals. Since most prospective buyers have never seen any of these goats and many people have misconceptions about what they are, this evaluation process is extremely important.

You won't find a Sale page with lots of photos of goats to choose from. That approach doesn't achieve the goals mentioned above. So be patient when you call or write, because the questions are not being asked to be intrusive but instead are asked so that Onion Creek Ranch representatives can best serve your meat-goat breeding stock buying needs. Our success depends upon your success.

Prospective buyers visiting Onion Creek Ranch and Bending Tree Ranch must do so by appointment. At Onion Creek Ranch, it takes four-and-one-half hours to view the goats and learn about them. There is no single Sale pen; the goats are in multiple pastures in their native environment spread over several hundred acres.

Buyers may contact Suzanne W. Gasparotto in Texas at 325-344-5775 (email: or Pat Cotten in Arkansas at 501-581-5700 (email If one of us doesn't have what you want, we will work together to fill your order.

BendingTree Ranch TexMaster Goats

TexMaster™ babies are popping out every day in March at Bending Tree Ranch in Arkansas.


The Bending Tree Ranch Cupid’s Arrow kids have all arrived as of this week and we are currently welcoming the Bending Tree Ranch Joseph kids. Due to the number of kids being born this month I am having a hard time getting photos of everyone and putting them on my website. Bear with me as I do my best to get them up as soon as possible.


Need help collecting milk and colostrum from uncooperative goats? Try the Handy Milker. See my article in the June 2009 MeatGoatMania issue.

Contact us today to reserve your TexMaster™ kids.

CONTACT: Pat Cotten 501-581-5700
Bending Tree Ranch located
near Greenbrier, Arkansas

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All information and photos copyright © Onion Creek Ranch and may not be used without express written permission of Onion Creek Ranch. TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT ™ and TEXMASTER™ are Trademarks of Onion Creek Ranch . All artwork and graphics © DTP, Ink and Onion Creek Ranch.