Why Buy a Myotonic Goat?

This article was written by John-Derek Gray of Gray Robin Ranch (www.grayrobinranch.com), serving N.W. Arkansas and N.E. Oklahoma.

Myotonic goat history

First let me give you some info and background on the Myotonic goat itself. Myotonic goats were originally discovered in the 1870’s in Tennessee. No one knows where they came from before that. There is “speculation” that John Tinsley came from Nova Scotia but no evidence to prove that has ever been found, based upon any research. This breed was also declared endangered. In the 1980’s the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, a group dedicated to preserving American Heritage breeds, joined the fight to promote the breed. So owning and breeding Myotonics will also conserve a piece of American Heritage.

… Owning and breeding Myotonics will also conserve a piece of American Heritage.”

Genetic traits

The defining genetic trait is a neuromuscular condition which developed naturally that causes them to stiffen and sometimes fall over when startled or excited. (Note: This is not a defect.) Meaning in basic terms, the chemicals in people and in other animals allowing them to react quickly, (i.e. reflexes) with there muscles and joints are not delivered when excited or frightened. This is important because this trait is the reasoning for the heavy  muscling displayed in the breed. This is a landrace breed. This means the breed has developed largely by natural processes, by adaptation to the natural and cultural  environment in which it has lived in over the years. Because of this the breed, though has similar characteristics still is diverse at the same time.

Due to the breed being a landrace breed they adapt to the conditions in which they live. This has made Myotonics a breed much easier to maintain. These goats are a meat goat and very sturdy and self-sufficient. They are also not fence climbers or big jumpers. Based on this, many feel they are easier to contain. Many breeders that carry more than one of the “meat” breeds, i.e. Boers, Kikos, and so on, as well as the Myotonic, have compared the breeds, care put into raising the breeds, and meat production.

Based on these experiences, most will tell you they have cut back on these other breeds, I know we did, because of the hardiness of the Myotonic, TMG, and Texmaster goats. I personally learned that I wormed less, due to the breeds parasite resistance. I also fed less, after kidding etc., due to the does willingness to maintain weight.

Great growth and meat-to-bone ratio 

Virginia State University revealed a meat-to-bone ratio of 4:1, higher than any other breed.

Another fact I learned is rather then my Boers and Kikos being seasonal breeders, I had a breed in the Myotonic that bred year round. Breeders will also tell you they have had as much meat, and most cases more meat come from their carcasses. So the growth, weight, and size does not hurt this breed at all. The meat has also said to be better tasting. In fact research has been done to prove both. Virginia State University revealed a meat-to-bone ratio of 4:1, higher than any other breed. In Texas Dr. Lou Nuti of Prairie View A&M University’s International Goat Research Center, has done research showing a 6% – 10% higher meat yield is achieved by using a Myotonic buck on does of other breeds. A Texas neurologist and other researchers, has stated this type of involuntary isometric muscle contraction could build a more tender muscle than a muscle developed by strenuous use. Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg had this to say about Myotonic Goats in 2005:

“Myotonic goats have a very distinctive breed type that is based mostly on head and body conformation. They also have a muscle condition called myotonia congenita. This inherited trait leads to an overall increase in muscle mass so that the goats are very muscular when compared to other breeds of similar size. This trait is so distinctive that it is easy to confuse the trait with the breed. However, the Myotonic goat is much more than just a myotonic condition; it has a host of other consistent traits that are very important and need to be conserved for future generations.”

Great addition to your herd

This breed is a very calm, laid back breed. Myotonic goats are tremendously smart and very curious of their surroundings. The does of this breed are great mothers, easy kidders and the family ties are very strong in this breed. I have met a few people with one Myotonic goat, that have not wanted more. We here at Gray Robin Ranch really took to the breed after our first two were purchased. We now have a whole herd with few percentages. I have found this breed to to be the best thing to happen to our farm and would recommend the breed to any new beginning farmer or 4Her.

John-Derek Gray
Serving N.W. Arkansas and N.E. Oklahoma

2 Responses to “Why Buy a Myotonic Goat?”

  1. Kitty Henson December 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    vERY IMFORMATIVE and good research.

  2. Breaking Dawn Ranch/Alyssa December 11, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    Great article! It was very informative!!!

Leave a Reply