Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
Onion Creek Ranch "Chevon, cabrito, goat... No matter what you call it, it is the HEALTHY red meat™
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The breed is called Myotonic, and the neuro-muscular condition which causes the goat to stiffen (and sometimes but not always fall over) when startled is myotonia.

Fainting means "losing consciousness." Myotonic goats do not become unconscious. While shoving each other at the feed trough, these goats can stiffen in their rear legs and fall to the ground, all the while continuing to eat throughout the entire myotonic episode. The event does not affect their respiration or brain function and does not hurt them whatsoever. What myotonic episodes really do is build muscling, much as you or I would do when lifting weights.

Some old-time goat raisers incorrectly believe that myotonia is an undesirable condition, supposedly making these goats more susceptible to predators. All goat breeds are susceptible to predators; goats are sprinters, not long-distance runners, and there isn't a breed of goat in existence that a predator can't outrun and take down. Goat producers must have good fences and good predator protection to raise any breed of goat.

So let's not perpetuate a name which is both incorrect and misleading, creating a bad impression of an excellent breed of goat.

Over the decade of the 1990's, Onion Creek Ranch "bred up" (selected for larger frame size and heavier muscling) the fullblood Myotonic goat, without introducing any other breed into the animals. I coined the name "TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT" and trademarked it to distinguish this larger, more muscular 100% Myotonic goat from the common fullblood Myotonic. TENNESSEE MEAT GOATS™ are larger framed, carry more muscling, and achieve higher weight than that of typical fullblood Myotonic goats.

A registry for TENNESSEE MEAT GOATS™ and Myotonics has been established with Pedigree International in Humansville, Missouri. http://www.pedigreeinternational.com.

Considerable interest is developing in my chosen breed as valuable meat-goat breeding stock. I am concerned. I can envision a scenario where producers who do not want to pay for the "real thing" will instead go out and buy the smaller Myotonic goats (or even myotonic crosses) and breed them to larger breeds like Boers. Producers jumping on the "fainting goat bandwagon" will be very, very unhappy with the results. Those who tried it will say, "gee, that "fainting goat" doesn't make a good cross," or "is a lousy animal," when the truth is that they didn't use correct breeding protocol. They ignored the very basic rules of breeding, the first of which is that you should breed a smaller-framed male to a larger-framed female.

I am not maintaining that Onion Creek Ranch has the only large, heavily-muscled Myotonic goats in existence. However, it is true that many Myotonic goats have been bred down for the pet and companion animal market, completely ignoring this breed's enormous meat capabilities. If you find someone who is willing to sell you a Myotonic goat for $75 or $100, you can be assured that it is not a TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT™.

I recommend against crossing the typical Myotonic goat with a Boer buck. In fact, it is both uninformed and cruel to breed a virgin Myotonic doe, who achieves maturity over four years, to the faster-growing Boer buck. Cattle raisers do not breed a Jersey heifer (virgin cow) to a Beefmaster or other larger-breed bull. Birthing problems and inferior-quality offspring usually result from such matings.

Instead, use the Myotonic buck to breed to the Boer or Boer-cross doe. In fact, this makes much more sense, since the buck has lots more muscling than the Boer doe and his genetics generally carry through stronger.

I use my fullblood TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT™ bucks on Boer and Boer-cross does in Onion Creek Ranch's cross-bred programs. From years of experience, I know that breeding a TMG buck to another-breed doe produces the better cross. I breed my virgin TENNESSEE MEAT GOAT™ does only to fullblood TMG bucks. This is not only common sense, but it is also sound breeding strategy.

The purpose of this article is to get goat producers to recognize the importance of correctly identifying breeds and the lines within them, as well as to give some thought and planning to their breeding plans. Much of what is going on today among goat producers is "hit-and-miss."

If we as goat breeders don't understand what we are breeding and why we are doing it, how can we expect anyone else to do so?

Meat Goat Mania

Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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