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People & Pets

The Bedwells and their fainting goats

2/3/2021

Tahra Bedwell holds River, one of the fainting goats her family has as a pet.

Pet owners enjoy a good laugh with their pets. Cats are notorious for arching their backs, turning sideways if their owner sneaks up on them. A dog’s eyebrows wiggle up and down. And what does a goat do when it’s surprised? It faints.

At least that’s what happens to the Bedwell family goats. Tahra and Don Bedwell obtained a fainting goat as a pet for their 3-year-old daughter, Hanna. The breed was tame, small and easy to take care of.

The family kept adding more goats and began raising and selling under the name “Hanna’s Upside Down Goats.”

Technically the goats don’t faint, according to Tahra. Fainting is a temporary loss of consciousness, occurring in the nervous system. In the case of a fainting goat, it’s called myotonia congenita. If the goat gets startled, its muscles lock up, and it falls over. Thus, it is commonly called fainting.

“Sometimes they tense when they stand up or they fall on their side,” she explains. “Some think it’s horrible, but it’s not harmful. They don’t really faint.”

When the family first obtained the goats, the animals would frequently faint.

“We’d open up a gate, and they faint,” she remembers. “We’d throw a hay bale down from the hay loft, and they’d faint.”

The Bedwells have named all their goats. Felix is the one that tends to faint more than others. Tahra says some have a higher degree of myotonia. As Hanna was showing a goat at the fair, one of them fainted while being weighed on the scale.

The Bedwells’ neighbor thinks it’s funny when he drives by in his pickup truck, honking the horn. Tahra says the goats are getting used to the family and don’t faint as much or faint on demand — which was the case when I interviewed the family.

“It’s hard for them to faint. It’s not just the snap of a finger,” she says.

The goats are great as pets and have done well at petting zoos, parades and with school-aged kids who come to visit. During the pandemic, they saw an uptick of grandparents purchasing goats as an outdoor activity to share with their grandkids.

The family shakes a bucket of feed, and the goats come running. Tahra has learned which flowers to plant that the goats don’t like. She says goats don’t eat cans, but they do eat weeds and poison ivy and they clean up cow pastures. They come in a variety of colors with different eye colors.

Tahra says raising goats has taught their kids to be caring, more responsible and to have common sense.

“People have cats and dogs as pets. Goats are fun creatures. They are easy going, nice animals,” she says. ♦

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