Saanen goats are a special breed that come all the way from Europe. They are a unique type of goat that has a rich and diverse history. What are they used for? What are some good breeding tips and how should they be raised?
The answers to these questions differ from breed to breed, which is what makes them special, after all. Before you decide to buy a dairy goat, look at what the Saanen goat has to offer. Once you have made up your mind and done your research, you will also know how to look after your new goat.
Saanen Goat Uses
Saanen Goats have been exported all over the world due to their productivity. It has the reputation of being the most productive dairy goat in Switzerland, which is known for having the most productive breeds of dairy goats in the world.
You could call the Saanen goat the best of the best. Their average milk yield is about 838 kg. in a lactation of 264 days. Their milk has a minimum of 3.2% fat and 2.7% protein.
Their milk is used for the usual dairy products including milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and sometimes even soap. Their milk is rich in nutrients and is known for having many health benefits. It has all the usual benefits of typical goat milk that has made the milk so popular. Goat milk is surprisingly close to human milk in its enzymatic composition which means that we get more out of it.
The health benefits are astonishing, which makes it no surprise that there is a rise in the demand for goat milk. If you are contemplating buying a goat, you need to ask yourself what these goats will do for you: if you want a goat for show, for meat or for dairy. The Saanen goat is the perfect dairy goat because of its productivity. This would be a good place to start dairy goat farming.
Saanen Goat Origin
This breed finds its origin in the historic Saanenland region in Western Switzerland. Switzerland is widely regarded as the cradle of modern goat breeding and is the largest producer of goat milk in the world. Their goats are well looked after and some of the finest breeds in the world. Their milk is unparalleled.
Saanens were always a popular breed because of their productivity and were shipped all over the world. They first arrived in America in 1904. A few prize heads were imported by way of Canada over a few years and these goats went to different farmers. Only a few of these goats were a prime example of the breed and as a result a few lesser breeds developed.
As their popularity grew, so did the demand for purebred Saanens. These Saanens were carefully bred and exported all over the world, including America. Many American farms began using these goats to breed and found that their milk was superior. Farmers were careful when breeding with their Saanens and now you can find high-quality Saanen goats around the country.
Saanens have a legacy of excellence and hard work. They are one of the best dairy breeds in the world and are only rivalled by Alpines when it comes to productivity.
Saanen Goat Characteristics
This breed is one of the biggest dairy breeds and can get quite large. They are usually medium to large in size. The will weigh about 154 pounds and stand at about 35 inches tall.
They are rugged, vigorous animals that are full of energy and need plenty of space to roam about.
Does are very feminine and they should never have coarse hair. Their hair tends to be short and fine, although fringes along the spine and thighs are not uncommon. Saanens are either white or light cream; spots on the skin are not a problem but spots on the fur is not ideal.
Their fair skin and hair means that they do not do well in hot climates. They are extremely sensitive to sunlight and will perform better in cooler climates. If you buy one of these goats, the provision of shade is absolutely vital.
Their ears should always be straight, alert and preferably pointing forward. Their faces are usually straight or dished, it does not matter. A Roman nose or tendency towards a Roman nose is not a good thing and is generally looked down on.
Saanens are bred all around the world, so this has led to a few sub-breeds that have formed over the years. A true Saanen goat will always be white or light cream with few to no spots on the fur.
Saanen Goat Price
As with most purebred goats in America, Saanen goat kids can cost between $100-$300. This price can differ between breeders and mature goats will cost a lot more. It is always important to remember that goats do not do well on their own. They need companionship since they are herd animals by nature. Treating a goat like a pet will be harmful for their development. You can give them love and affection, but ultimately, they are still farm animals.
It is always best to buy two goats to start off with. If you are new to goat farming and want a herd, it is still best to start off with two or three goats. A larger herd will be more difficult to handle if you do not have a lot of experience. Starting off small will give you the necessary expertise to handle a larger herd of your own later. It might also be less expensive to breed your own herd, adding as you need.
Saanens are not particularly prone to illness, but they do need to be vaccinated against the common viruses. Before you buy your goat, consult your vet to find out which vaccines and deworming schedules you need to follow and how much they will cost. It would also be helpful to come up with a feeding schedule too.
Raising Saanen Goats
Saanen goats are well-known for their calm and well-behaved demeanor. If you do not want to farm with them, they make wonderful pets and are popular in show rings.
They do grow to be a bit big, so they will need a lot of space to run around or graze. If you want to protect your garden from their wondering ways, you will need to put up a fence.
If you get a Saanen as a kid or need to take a kid away from the mother (kids can ruin udders on show goats or contract diseases from their mother’s udders), put them in a warm box away from the mother and feed them regularly. You could use a bottle or a pan, although the pan is a little more difficult to use. The kid will need to be fed 3-4 times a day. Start off with 24 ounces a day; after a week, increase this to 36 ounces a day. Some kids will take to this, while others will not.
After about a week, you need to start introducing the kid to hay. They will start nibbling but won’t eat right away. Make sure that you keep feeding them hay since goats are ruminants, which basically means they need a lot of roughage. Roughage is essential to their diets while grains are secondary.
Breeding Saanen Goats
Dairy goats give you milk, but only after they have given birth. Birth requires a buck, so you need a buck if you want milk. The truth is that breeding while you are a beginner is a bad idea.
Bucks are expensive, they stink, and breeding is a lot more difficult than you would think. It is easier to locate a local buck and transport the doe there.
Dairy goats give you milk, but only after they have given birth. Birth requires a buck, so you need a buck if you want milk. The truth is that breeding while you are a beginner is a bad idea. Bucks are expensive, they stink, and breeding is a lot more difficult than you would think. It is easier to locate a local buck and transport the doe there.
Does can be used to breed at about 9 months of age, although it is recommended that you wait until they reach about 85-90 pounds. Does are only in heat for 2-3 days every 18-23 days. This usually happens from fall to late winter. You need to look out for nervous bleating, increased tail wagging, a slightly swollen vulva and frequent urination. If she is in heat, let the doe visit the buck, record the date. Wait for about 2-3 weeks, if she is not in heat, she is probably pregnant.
You will have to wait about 150 days before the kid is born. In that time, ask your vet which supplements you should be giving the doe and get the kid’s vaccinations ready. It is not unknown for Saanens to give birth to multiple kids, so your herd might be growing faster than you expected it to.
Saanen Goat Breeders
As mentioned before, Saanen goats are white or light cream in color. A purebred Saanen will not have any other colors or large spots on their fur.
Small spots are already a dubious indication, although they are not uncommon. A Roman nose is also a bad indication, but that depends on how thoroughly you care about the level of breeding.
The most important signs to look out for are signs of disease. A goat is a naturally friendly and curious animal, so a bad-tempered goat is never a good sign. If the goat is healthy, it will run around and be alert. Its eyes will be shiny not dull. Look at the goat’s manure. A healthy goat has firm, pelleted manure. Any other consistency is a bad sign.
Check the goat for any abscesses, which is a very bad sign and they are highly contagious. Lumps will be transferred to the rest of your herd and will cost you dearly. Check the hooves to make sure that they look good and are not weak or infirm.
Some people prefer to take the goat to a vet to make sure that it does not have any serious diseases. If a breeder does this, then it means that they are conscientious. Most beginners do not go through so much trouble, but it is a personal decision.
Be sure to ask a lot of questions.
Saanen Goat Shelter Needs
Goats are used to roughing it – they are hardy animals – but if you want to have a happy goat then you need to give them someplace to rest, especially Saanen goats with their fair skin.
They need a dry, warm place to sleep with room to exercise. If you live in a warm climate, you need to make sure that they have a lot of shade.
Their skin is sensitive to the sunlight and it would not be a good idea to let them roam about without somewhere to shelter from the sun.
If you want to become a licensed dairy, there are very specific requirements that you will have to adhere to. If you just want to produce milk for personal use, then a simple shelter will be enough. Experienced breeders recommend at least 15 square feet of space per goat in the shelter. You will also need to fence them in if you do not want them to roam around your property.
Make sure that you provide the goats with plenty of clean bedding. Goats prefer hygienic conditions, so you will have to clean the shelter daily. Make sure that it is not too drafty for them and that there are no leaks that could cause them to become wet. They also need to feel safe and secure for optimal milking conditions, so do not build the shelter near a busy or noisy area.
Saanen goats are one of the best dairy breeds in the world. They are renowned for their sweet temper and impressive productivity. Breeding may be a little tricky, but with time you will gain the necessary experience to handle the delicate process. You may want a goat for a variety of different reasons, but a Saanen will provide you with high-quality milk or be an excellent show goat. They are one of the best breeds available.