Whose goat got best marks?

Friday, October 15, 2010
Zona "Z" Johnson shares a Teddy Graham with her fainting goat, Rocco.

A Marshall County fainting goat and a Marshall County Boer goat were judged champions at the Goats, Music and More Festival last weekend when thousands of people visited Lewisburg, strolled Old Farmington Road in Rock Creek Park and had a darned good time.

And while fainting or stiff-legged goats, perhaps more properly called myotonic goats, are the breed that's making Lewisburg famous, there were Boer goat shows as well, with winners declared by the two Boer goat breed associations.

The winners were:

* A goat named Hot Rod. He's more perfectly named, in the lexicon of goat farmers, as the World Grand Champion Fainting Goat as well as the Myotonic Goat Registry National Champion Buck - Woody Creek Farm PGCH Hot Rod. The letters PGCH stand for Permanent Grand Champion.

* The overall full-blooded Boer goat Grand Champion was DER Omega, owned by Carolyn and Skip Harborth and Jimmy and Jenna Martin of Martin Farms, Cornersville. The Martins also own the overall full-blooded Boer goat Reserve Champion, Splashes Luck.

Hot Rod is owned by Debbie Mullins of Woody Creek Farm in Marshall County on U.S. 431 (Franklin Road) in Berlin. Much of her business is also conducted at Petersburg.

"He's definitely a red goat with white highlights with a lot of muscle and a lot of width," according to Zona "Z" Johnson of Darktree Farm near the Berlin Store who's raising goats from offspring of kids from Woody Creek Farm. "You're looking for that wide meat production area in the back. It's in the width" of the animal that provides the meat.

"Debbie showed the animal," Johnson said. "She was sitting with him before showing him and was watering him. "He was drinking water from a Mountain Dew can."

Mullins confirmed it, "It was Mountain Dew, and he was eating Frito chips before going into the ring. He seemed to like the Mountain Dew.

"Hot Rod goes back many years and it's all Middle Tennessee," Mullins continued. "His mother was 14 years old when she had him. That gives you some view on the longevity of these animals. He'll be four this November."

The buck weighs more than 200 pounds and has already sired a Junior Champion buck.

The fainting goat shows had about twice as many entries as the Boer goat show.

Observing the fainting goat show Friday was Barry McCafferty of Lexington, Ala., who's raised goats "off and on all my life," he said, "but I've had these myotonic goats about five years."

McCafferty teaches agriculture at Lexington High School.

"These are probably the easiest kind of goat to raise," he said.

As for reports saying fainting goats have more meat because of the myotonic condition that tenses up the muscles and therefore increases meat, McCafferty said, "I've heard that, but I don't know about it. In their natural habitat, they are not scared like at a fair or show."

Some goats had "myotonic moments" last weekend during the show when they became frightened and their muscles became stiff. Those observed during one hour Saturday morning maintained their balance and their front legs pulled their hind legs forward with the trunk of the goat's body.

"I believe the muscularity is from breeding - genetic selection," McCafferty said.

Marshall County's UT Agricultural Extension Agent Rick Skillington noticed "an awful lot of variation between the breed in muscling and structural correctness."

Those are among the qualities used as criteria. Some of the goats didn't appear to be groomed as well as others. Skillington said he would overlook that in favor of whether the goats have muscle and are of normal dimensions and not deformed.

Johnson's husband, Keith (Jon), noted the "cold snap" during the week before the show and commented, "We were afraid to wash them and get them wet because they are susceptible to illness."

His wife agreed: "I'd rather have a dirty goat in a show than a sick goat in a show."