Whether you call them Fainting, Nervous, Stiff Legged, Wooden Leg, or Myotonic goats. The most important thing to realize is these goats don’t actually “faint” and become unconscious, they just stiffen and sometimes fall over when they are unexpectedly startled.
Fainting Goats have a genetic condition called myotonia that causes their muscles to stiffen when they are
startled or get excited. This stiffening often causes them to lose their balance and fall over. They are not having a seizure and it doesn’t hurt them. They are fully conscious and once they relax, (10-15 seconds), they get up and are on their way.
The effects from the myotonia can range from a mere stiffening in the legs, where the goat’s knees are locked, to a complete stiffening of the body, where if the goat is off-balance it will fall over. This stiffening of the muscles builds muscle, much like a body builder would by lifting weights. Fainting Goats have powerful muscular bodies and smaller bones, thus a higher meat to bone ratio, which makes them a great meat animal.