The Saanen Goat – Milk
The Saanen Goat comes from the Saanen Valley in Switzerland, but since the late 1800s they have been found across all of Europe and by the early 1900s they had been brought to the United States. Today they are one of the most popular breeds of goats for dairy products because they’re easy to work with and their milk production is among the highest.
Saanen Goats have coats that range in color from pure white to cream-colored, but of course the breed associations value pure white above the darker shades. They usually have short fine coats, which occasionally grow longer on their backs and hindquarters. Because of their light colored coats, they tend to be sensitive to hot climates with harsh sunlight. Animals with darker skins are better equipped to exist in these conditions.
This breed is the largest of all the dairy goats with does usually weighing at least 135 lbs. (61 kg.) and standing at least 30 in. tall (76 cm.). Bucks weigh at least 160 lbs. (73 kg.) and stand 32 in. tall (81 cm.). Their profile is either straight or concave (dished) and they have erect, medium to large sized ears that point forward.
Saanen does are calm, good tempered and easy to manage in herds. They adapt well and are well known for their milk production abilities. The milk they produce usually contains from 3% to 4% butterfat.
The Sable Saanen
Sables are not considered a crossbreed, but rather the same breed with a range of colors that are recessive in nature, but still originating from the same white Saanen breed. The Sable Saanen Goats have coats that range in color from light tan or beige to black, and every color in between, but never pure white as those would be considered white Saanens. Sables are admitted as a separate breed in some dairy goat clubs, but not in all.
Saanen Goats were first bred in an area of Switzerland located south of Canton Berne in an region called the Saanen Valley. In 1893 they became internationally known when a few thousand goats from this area were dispersed across Europe. In 1904 the very first Saanen Goat was sent across the Atlantic to the U.S. Over the next three decades, approximately 150 Saanen Goats were shipped from Switzerland to the United States. Later on in the 20th century, more Saanens arrived in the U.S. from England. Today they remain a leading dairy goat in America.
Heifer International has used Saanen Goats as gifts in their hunger relief programs because they are very easy to take care of and they continually produce abundant quantities of milk.
In the U.S. the American Goat Society and the National Saanen Breeders Association are the two main organizations that work on behalf of the Saanen breed in terms of advancement and preservation. Founded in 1935, the American Goat Society has nine different breeds of goats registered, of which the Saanen Goat is one.