We have goats, sheep and llamas…
Our farm currently features three varieties of animals which include the famous Tennessee Fainting Goats, Jacob’s Four-Horn Sheep, and Guard Llamas – and we often have new arrivals! While visiting our grounds you will learn much more about each of these breeds.
Tennessee Fainting Goats
A distinctly American breed, “fainting goats” have an obscure origin. Sometime during the 1880’s, a transient farm worker – thought to have been from Nova Scotia, Canada – brought his goats to Marshall County, Tennessee. After having spent many years in the area, the transient farm worker left his goats behind with another farmer to breed. After much research, only recently new information suggests that original goats that shared the breed may have come from the mountainous areas of Europe.
Why do these goats faint?
Myotonia Congenita is the medical term to describe stiffening; this simply means that the condition is inherited from prior generations and is no longer considered a defect. Myotonia occurs in the muscle fiber and not the central nervous system. Myotonia has been observed in dogs (chow chows), mice, quarter horses, tumbler pigeons, sheep and humans. So come and learn more about this and our goats!
Jacob’s Four-Horn Sheep
The most distinguishing features of the Jacob are their four horns, although they may have as few as two or as many as six. Both sexes are always horned, and the rams tend to have larger and impressive horns. Four-horned rams have two vertical center horns which may be two or more feet in length, and two smaller side horns, which grow down along the sides of the head.
Each Jacob has distinctive markings that enable the shepherd to identify specific sheep from a distance. The skin beneath the white fleece is pink, while the skin beneath colored spots is darkly pigmented.
Jacob’s have a medium grade fleece and no outer coat – essentially the fleece is light, soft, springy and open, with little lanolin (grease). This wool has a high luster and is highly sought after by hand spinners if it is free of hemp. They are shorn once a year, most often in the springtime.
Llamas appear to have originated from the central plains of North America about 40 million years ago. They migrated to South America about 3 million years ago. Llamas are native to the South American Andes of Peru, Bolivia & Chile. Introduced to North America in the late 1800s, llamas are one of the oldest domesticated animals in America.
In North America, since the 1980s, llamas have been used as livestock guards in areas of the country where larger predators, such as the coyote, are prevalent. Typically a single castrated male is used for this purpose.
Llamas can survive by eating many different kinds of plants, and they need little water – making them durable and dependable even in sparse mountainous terrain.