About Saanen Goats
are dairy goats that originated in Switzerland, in the Saanen Valley. By the late 19th century they
had spread across Europe, and in the early 20th century were brought to the US.
Now they are among the most popular dairy goat breeds, due to their high
productivity and ease of management.
does are heavy milk producers and usually yield 3-4 percent milk fat. They are medium to large in size (weighing
approximately 145 lbs/65kg) with rugged bone and plenty of vigor.
are white or light cream colored; however white is preferred and spots on their
skin is not discriminated against and small spots of color on their hair is
allowable, but not desirable. Saanen hair should be short and fine, although a
fringe over the spine and thighs is often present. Their ears should be erect
and alertly carried, preferably pointing forward. Their face should be straight
or dished, and a tendency toward a roman nose is discriminated against.
Goats are sensitive to excessive sunlight and performs best in cooler
conditions, therefor shade is essential and tan skin is preferable.
Saanens are the largest of the
goat dairy breeds, and one of the largest milk producers. Does typically weigh
at least 135 pounds (61 kg) and stand 30 inches (76 cm) tall, with bucks
weighing at least 160 pounds (73 kg) and standing 32 inches (81 cm). The
profile of the head is straight or dished (concave), with erect,
forward-pointing mid-sized to large ears. Saanen does are known for their ease
of management in herds, mellow temperaments and adaptability, as well as their
production abilities. Their milk generally has a butterfat content of 3-4%.
Organizations for the
preservation and advancement of the Saanen breed in the US include the National
Saanen Breeders Association and the American Goat Society. The American Goat
Society, founded in 1935, registers nine breeds of goat, including the Saanen.
Saanen goats have
been used in hunger relief programs by Heifer International as gifts because of
their ease of care and productivity.