This task has never been very high up my bucket list, nor yours I suspect. But this was too intriguing to not share it. I should warn you that you may find it a bit distressing, but if you do then give up eating lamb and mutton.

The technique only works in countries where wolves roam, and hence would be useless anywhere in the UK. However, suppose you live where there are wolves, and you’re a sheep farmer. Wolves are going to come down like the Assyrian on a Biblical fold, sheep are dim, and there’s likely to be a pretty high attrition rate.

This is where the goat comes in. But not just any goat. You need a Tennessee fainting goat. This is a specific breed that suffers from a condition called myotonia when startled. As a result, they go stiff as planks and fall over. This behaviour alerts the dimwitted woolyheads to a problem. ‘Oh my word! The goat fell over! Run away!’ Off they go.

The fainting fit doesn’t last very long, about ten to twelve seconds. That’s quite long enough for your flock of sheep to scamper off, and the wolf that scared them to find the goat, which being motionless is pretty easy pickings, and a lot less effort than chasing ditzy sheep around. It’s tough on the goat, but farmers are not really noted for compassion, are they? They breed animals for people to eat. If you’re a carnivore, you can’t really make a fuss here.

Interestingly, the older, more experienced goats will lean against things to avoid falling over. I’d be ever so interested to hear how they get to be older and more experienced given their sacrificial role.

By the way, if you’re a rampant vegan or veggie, don’t bother launching into one, because I’ll ignore you. I hardly eat meat, but I’m not having any truck with you getting on my case, and I refuse to let you use my blog for grandstanding. Grandstanding on my blog is my job.

Oh yes, humans can suffer from this condition of being myotonic. Apparently it’s painless unless, presumably, you break the coffee table with your head on the way down.

Finally, a bit of information about goats unrelated to sacrificing them. Horses find them great companions, and in the UK at least people transporting racehorses that are a bit anxious or simply skittish will often put the horse’s favourite goat in the horsebox or transporter to keep the nag quiet. I find that rather charming.