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Posted: 06/20/12


FALL DOWN ON THE FARM. Above, from left, Jake and Otis check out the source of a sound that spooked them in their pen at Frontier Town. In about a month's time, though, anything that startles or excites these two will likely cause them to "faint." The baby goats are fainting goats, meaning they have a genetic disorder that causes their muscles to stiffen up for 10 seconds when scared, usually resulting in them falling over.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Fainting goats arrive
at Frontier Town

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      People will fall for these goats, as they will surely be falling for them.
       Jake and Otis are the latest additions to the herd of goats at Frontier Town. The names were recently chosen during the Annual Pet Rescue Fair on June 3, but the baby goats are known by another name: "fainting goats."
       They are so named because when they're startled or excited, their external muscles stiffen for about 10 seconds, usually causing them to fall over.
       The Village Trading Post donated the goats to Frontier Town, buying them from Chippewa Acres Farm in DeWitt.
       Mark Sikorski of the Village Post said they wanted to bring something different to Frontier Town, and knowing there were already goats, they sought out something unique.
       "We thought it'd be kind of a neat thing for the kids when they're here during the summer and they kind of scare them a little bit and they watch them fall over," Sikorski said.
       Contrary to their name, fainting goats do not actually faint. According to the International Fainting Goat Association, the stiffening is caused by a genetic disorder known as myotonia congenita. It doesn't hurt the goat and they do not lose consciousness.
       Older myotonic goats learn from their younger days and will either lean against something when scared or stay on their legs and run in a stiff-legged hobble until it wears off.
       Thanks to this behavior, the goats are also known as nervous goats, wooden-leg goats and stiff-leg goats. Videos of the goats have received millions of views on YouTube.com.
       At the moment, Jake and Otis are too young to faint. Sikorski said they are expected to start "fainting" within a month's time when the gene fully develops.
       He said they don't require any special care when compared to the other goats, though for now they have their own pen until they grow bigger.
       "They were very timid at first<if you'd go to pet them they would run," he said.
       Aside from their talent for tipping over, fainting goats differ in appearance from other breeds of goats by being smaller as well as having eyes that protrude from their sockets as opposed to being recessed.
       The breed is said to have originated in the 1880s in Tennessee when a farmer who had four fainting goats left them in the care of a doctor who propagated them.
      


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