How to Care for Fainting Goats




Introduction: How to Care for Fainting Goats

At our hobby farm in northern Colorado we breed and raise the Barnyard Buddies Miniature Fainting Goat Herd. Everyone who meets our goats falls in love with them --They have become quite famous! We specialize in breeding miniature fainting goats which have been selectivity bred to achieve considerably smaller size.

Breed specifications:
Lifespan - Average 10 - 12 years - can live up to 15 years!
Height - Our miniature fainting goat's average height is about 19" at withers
Weight - Our Mini fainting goats average weight is about 55-60 pounds

Fainting goats are a very amazing breed that - as you probably already know -  faint when startled or overly excited. While it really does appear as a real faint - they do not actually lose consciousness at all. Fainting goats have a genetic condition called myotonia, which causes their skeletal muscles to instantly contract in certain situations -- most often resulting in a lot of laughter! The "faint" lasts about 10 seconds, after which they get back on their feet and go about their goatly affairs ~ as if nothing ever even happened.

A lot of people ask if this is harmful or painful to the goats and as far as we know, the answer is no. Humans with a very similar form of myotonia known as Thomsen's disease report no pain or trauma when they experience involuntary muscle contractions. While it is true a human with this condition could easily be harmed from a fall, goats fall over in a much different way than people and being on four legs they are much closer to the ground ~ In general, fainting goats are very tough animals.

Fainting goats are very friendly and social animals, and if well socialized and treated kindly they are very safe with young children. They are often kept as pets, show animals and sometimes bred as meat goats and are also used for weed control. They are easy to care for, a lot of fun to have around and unlike regular goats, they cannot climb verys well or escape fencing very easily.

Fainting goats are considered a rare species by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and currently on their "watch list". We would like to see fainting goats protected and preserved as a true breed for our future. Who knows what someone might someday discover about this amazing breed that may help a person with a severe debilitating muscle disease.

To begin keeping fainting goats you need to consider that they are herd animals and do not do well on their own.  A minimum of two or three fainting goats should be kept together to keep them happy and healthy!

You will need:

-Fenced Pen
-Fresh water supply
-Veterinary care when necessary

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Step 1: Pen Construction

Your goats need a bit of room -- An area of 30 square feet of pasture or paddock space per goat. Overcrowding leads to increased risk of parasite infestation, lice, and stress.

Your pen must be goat safe and secure -- No barbed wire and dangerous fencing -- Keep your goats in, and predators and other dangers out! Fainting goats have a numerous amount of predators. Coyotes, wolves, bobcats and mountain lions are always looking for a meal. Fencing is very important to keep your fainting goats safe.

We fence with a three rail wooden fence and a top board.  We then line the wooden fence with hog panels to make it much more difficult for possible predators to get in the pens.  All metal gates are also lined with hog panels. 

The hog panels also keep your "kids" from escaping.  Babies can squeeze out of some pretty small spaces.  We have never lost a goat to a predator or a baby escaping.

Fainting goats love to climb and play! Easy to climb structures encourages exercise and minimizes boredom.

Step 2: Shelters

Your goats will need basic shelter to keep them out of the elements and provide a comfortable place to relax. In colder climates a partially enclosed shelter or barn is needed. Shelters do not need to be elaborate but do need to very sturdy and well constructed for the outdoors elements, wind, rain, snow etc.

Step 3: Food

Fainting goats enjoy typical goat foods -- Hay and grains, they prefer a varied diet of grasses, flowers, leaves, woody stems. You will also need to provide free access to a plain salt block as well as a mineral block.

-Pasture grass does not always provide goats with sufficient nutrition. Hay and grain are needed for supplements.

Your goats need access to clean and fresh water at all times! Buckets or shallow tubs make suitable containers, as long as the goats are not in danger of falling in during "fainting" spells.

Step 4: Health and Vet Care

Goats should be vaccinated against Clostridium perfringens C & D, tetanus, and rabies.  In kids, the CD&T vaccine should be given when the kid is 8 weeks of age and boostered 4 weeks later.  This vaccine should also be boostered any time the goat is at risk for tetanus (dehorning, disbudding, castration, wounds, etc).  A single rabies vaccine is given when the kid is at least 12 weeks of age.  These vaccines are then given yearly.  Pregnant does should be vaccinated 4 weeks before their due date to ensure that their colostrum (first milk) is high is antibodies against these diseases.

Goats are very susceptible to intestinal and external parasites and many of the parasites that affect goats are resistant to the dewormers that are currently available.  For these reasons, it is best to consult with your veterinarian regarding the best parasite control program for your area.

Regular trimming of hooves is an important part of keeping a goat sound.  A veterinarian or experienced breeder can instruct you on proper hoof trimming.

Finding a veterinarian experienced with and interested in goats should be a top priority for a new goat owner.  The time to find a vet is not during an emergency!  You should establish a relationship with a veterinarian so that you have someone you know and trust a phone call away when it is most critical.  In addition, your vet is the best source for advice on keeping your goat healthy and happy.

Step 5: Extra Flannel...

We have so many great photos! If you would like to learn more about the Barnyard Buddies Herd and see lots of great photos our main site is Barnyard Buddies Fainting Goats

Our kids (baby goats) are due in spring!

Coming soon Fainting Goat Breeding instructable!

Thanks for viewing and have a great day!

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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I have a kid billy thats needed wormed pretty bad but hes only 6 maybe 7 weeks old is it ok for me to go ahead anf worm him


    Reply 3 years ago

    Hey Tommy. According to everything I have read, you CAN deworm a billy kid at that age. There are some that Myontonic Breaders that deworm at one month, especially if they are already eating grain. I have a 6 week old I am getting ready to deworm very soon. I also recently gave them their CD&T. Good luck!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I was told that fainting goats do not get along with regular goats. Is this true? I am getting 2 castrated male kids (toggenburg) and 2 fainting goats also castrated. They will be the exact same age 2 mos old. Can I keep them in the same pen?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Do fainting goats get along with other pets, like small dogs or cats?


    7 years ago on Step 5

    Hi, I see you said we need a "partially enclosed" shelter in "colder" climates. We live in Northern Idaho (83835) so I am wondering if it will be adequate for them to have a 3 sided shelter or if they need to have an actual 4 sided house with door for this winter. Thanks so much for the excellent Instructable!

    Janet Farkas
    Janet Farkas

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 5

    A shelter that has a center door works best. Goats need to stay dry and out of the cold wind. They also need easy access in and out. Please let me know if you have anymore questions! Thank you and best of luck to you and your new goats!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What is the average life span of a fainting goat? I thought it was quite short?

    Janet Farkas
    Janet Farkas

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hi scoochmaroo! Thanks for the question! I will update my instructable to include this info asap.

    To answer your question, fainting goats normally live about 10 - 12 years. This is pretty typical of all goat breeds and -as far as I know- fainting goats do not have a shorter than normal lifespan for a goat.