Lancaster’s ‘fainting goats’ taking TV by snooze

Goats on Carol Ellis' Goat Flower Farms are known as "fainting goats," but the proper term is "myotonic." They've caught on so much that shows at MTV and the BBC would like to feature them. (Photo via iStock)

Head out to Lancaster County for a visit to Carol Ellis’ Goat Flower Farm, and you’ll get a peaceful glimpse of the bucolic life in Pennsylvania. You’ll also get to see some goats fall over, which these days is a pretty big draw—at least for producers at MTV and the BBC.

Breeding almost 20 years, Ellis raises what commonly are referred to as “fainting goats,” due to their tendency to “faint” when spooked. The breed has been making the rounds online for some time now, but for all the “OMG it fainted!” YouTube comments, it would appear that fainting is a bit of a misnomer. As Ellis told ABC in an interview: 

"’They are commonly called 'fainting goats,' but the correct term is Myotonic goats,’ said Carol Ellis, owner of Goat Flower Farm.

When startled or scared, the goats' muscles tighten up, causing them to tip over and become as stiff as a board." 

That’s “Myotonic goats,” to you, fella—keep your “fainting” to yourself. As you may imagine, the ability to make these distinctions—along with the big goat farm—is part of what has lead locals to call Ellis, in her words, the “Crazy Goat Lady.” However, with the attention the goats are grabbing lately, accuracy is extremely important. 

It seems that large entertainment networks have gotten wind of the tuckered-out goats, specifically MTV and the BBC. So be sure to look out for episodes of MTV’s Ridiculousness and the BBC’s World’s Weirdest Animals to include clips of Lancaster’s favorite sleepy barnyard animals. And, please, don’t cry exploitation just yet.

Ellis, through most of the press on the rising stars she raises, has stated that the goats aren’t hurt when they tip over due to fear because the reaction is “completely muscular, it doesn’t affect any other system.” Which is to say that we can enjoy this phenomenon relatively guilt free.

Until, of course, we realize it’s caused in the first place by a gene also found in humans. Somehow, that makes it a little less funny.