May 2017 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.


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The correct name of the breed is Myotonic, and the neuro-muscular condition which causes the goat to stiffen is myotonia.

Fainting is defined as losing consciousness. Myotonic goats do not lose consciousness. When startled, these goats can stiffen in their rear legs for as long as five seconds and fall to the ground. Neither their brain function nor respiration is affected, and it doesn't hurt them whatsoever. What myotonic episodes really do is build muscling, like people lifting weights.

Misinformed goat raisers think that myotonia is an undesirable condition, incorrectly believing that it makes this breed easy prey. All goat breeds are susceptible to predators. Goats are sprinters, not long-distance runners, and there isn't a breed of goats in existence that a predator cannot outrun and take down. Good fencing and predator protection (I prefer livestock guardian dogs) are required to raise any breed of goat.

Let's not perpetuate a name that is both misleading, incorrect, and creates the impression that the best meat-goat breed is defective. Call them Myotonic.

Over the decade of the 1990's, Onion Creek Ranch "bred up" (selected for heavier muscling and larger frame size) the fullblood Myotonic goat, never linebreeding and without introducing any other breed. I trademarked the name Tennessee Meat Goat™ to distinguish this larger and more muscular 100% Myotonic goat from the common fullblood Myotonic. A registry for Tennessee Meat Goat™ and Myotonics was established in 1999 with Pedigree International in Humansville, Missouri.

As I anticipated, interest developed in my breed as valuable meat-goat breeding stock. Even the show-goat folks figured out that my goats put meat on their show stock. Then what I feared began to happen. Some folks thought they could achieve Tennessee Meat Goat™ quality meat production by using the smaller Myotonics that they found closer to home -- with poor and sometimes tragic results. Proper breeding protocol (using the smaller-sized breed of buck- Myotonic - on the larger breed of doe -Boer, Kiko, other dairy influenced breeds) was ignored, and the much larger Boer bucks were used on the smaller Myotonic does. Dystocia (kidding problems) resulted. These offspring were too big at birth, often had problems surviving (big kids have more trouble surviving than normal-sized kids), and were not meaty.

Other goat raisers searched out Onion Creek Ranch genetics from folks who had previously (or supposedly) bought from me. To be able to say that what they had was out of Onion Creek Ranch genetics became desirable, even though in many cases the goats were multiple generations removed from the genetics originally purchased from me. The skill needed to produce consistent quality over long-term breeding is a rare talent. Pedigree is important, but the best genetics in the world cannot survive bad management. It doesn't help that people get into and out of raising goats all the time, so continuity and consistency of quality animals is the exception in goat raising. Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch in Arkansas and I began to get calls from people who wanted pedigree information on goats that they bought that were supposed to be out of Onion Creek Ranch or Bending Tree Ranch genetics. Some of these folks insisted that we provide registration papers on the goats they bought. Ear tags didn't match up. Most of the goats were not out of either OCR or BTR genetics, and those that were were long ago breedings that had been diluted by breeding with other goat genetics. People got "taken" because they wanted to believe they got OCR and BTR genetics cheaply close to their homes. Caveat emptor. If you bought a goat for a few hundred dollars, I promise that it is not a Tennessee Meat Goat™ from Onion Creek Ranch or Bending Tree Ranch.

The Myotonic goat is a medium-sized breed and has a higher meat-to-bone ratio (more meat and less waste) than any other breed. Never cross a Myotonic doe, including a Tennessee Meat Goat™ doe, with a Boer or other large breed buck. Cattle raisers learned this decades ago. Birthing problems will be common, and if the offspring (and mother) survive, there may be continuing troubles. Breed the Tennessee Meat Goat™ buck to larger breed does (Boers, Kikos, other dairy-influenced breeds). The TMG buck has lots more muscling than the larger-breed doe and he passes muscling on to her offspring. This is not only common sense but it is also sound breeding strategy. If it has MEAT on it, it has Myotonic in it.

Your breeding program is the most important part of your goat-raising operation. Much of what is done today is "hit and miss." If we goat raisers don't understand what we are breeding and why we are doing it, how can we expect anyone else to value what we produce?

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 5/4/17


Consultation & Evaluation Services for Hire

I've decided to expand my business to include consultation & evaluation services for people who are either thinking about raising meat goats or are currently raising them and want to improve their operations

Please contact Suzanne W. Gasparotto at 324-344-5775 or email at

BendingTree Ranch TexMaster Goats

Kidding has started and we should have a nice selection on Myotonic buck and doe kids to select from as well a TexMaster™ bucklings. At this time all TexMaster™ doelings are reserved.


Bending Tree Ranch Nikon, TexMaster™ buck (left )

Breeding age Myotonics, TMG’s, TexMasters™ as well as nice commercial crosses available year round. Contact us for your breeding stock needs.

Pat Cotten 501-679-4936
Bending Tree Ranch located near Greenbrier, Arkansas

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