Goats are a fantastic addition to any homestead, and the Saanen goat is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a hardy, reliable farm animal.
These white-haired goats are known for their good health, high productivity, and docile disposition.
In this blog post, we will explore the origins of the Saanen goat as well as its characteristics, uses, and how to take care of one.
Saanen Goat: Overview
The Saanen goat is native to Switzerland’s canton (region) of Bern in the Saane Valley.
The breed was developed in the late 1800s by crossing local goats with Alpine breeds from France. The result was a white-haired dairy goat that could easily adapt to various climates and terrains.
By 1904, Swiss breeders had created an official breed standard for the Saanen goat.
Saanens are primarily kept for their milk production as they produce more milk than other dairy breeds of goats—up to three gallons per day!
They also make great pets due to their docile temperaments; however, like all goats, they require regular care and attention from humans in order for them to remain healthy and happy.
History of the Saanen Goat Breed
The Saanen goat breed is one steeped in history, and its enduring popularity is a testament to its resilience.
Originating from the French-speaking Swiss valleys of the Saane, these adaptable little creatures have found success beyond their homeland, becoming particularly popular among dairy goat farmers in Australia.
Ironically, it was the New South Wales Department of Agriculture that introduced the first Saanens to Australia back in 1913, with an importation of two bucks and ten does from Switzerland and France for their Nyngan Experimental Farm.
After World War II, the Department increased its number with a further five bucks and six does, while some private breeders also imported Saanen goats.
Though these imports received some cross-breeding overseas, the Australian-bred Saanen goats are said to be of world standard and have set numerous milk production records.
In fact, this adaptable breed has been known to be used around the world as a part of grading up local breeds due to their strength and milk production efficiency.
What Do Saanen Goats Look Like?
The Saanen is an average-sized goat, with does weighing at least 64 kg and bucks measuring 94 cm at the withers.
The coat of a Saanen is typically white to creamy white in color, short and fine in texture, with a possible fringe around the spine and thighs.
Apart from their size and magnificent coats, another iconic feature of Saanens is their ears—usually erect—along with either straight or dished faces. Horns may or may not be present at birth.
Upon reaching maturity, female Saanens are roughly 30 inches at the withers and weigh 135 pounds, while males measure approximately 32 inches tall, topping off the scales at 160 pounds or more.
All in all, there’s no denying that these animals have a majestic appearance.
Saanen Goats: Behavioral Characteristics
Saanens are one of the most popular goat breeds due to their calm and gentle demeanor.
Characterized as ‘hardy,’ ‘calm,’ and even ‘sweet,’ these large animals make exceptional companions for children and beginner goat owners.
Saanens are also known for being very adaptable to new situations and environments.
As such, they are well-suited for machine milking as long as a routine is established beforehand.
Because of their docile nature, the Saanen stands out among other goat breeds as a reliable and easy-to-care-for companion animal.
Is the Saanen Goat Good For Dairy?
The Saanen goat is gaining popularity as a dairy breed because of its ability to produce quality milk for cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products.
Its stature is medium-large, with rugged bones and plenty of energy that puts it ahead of other breeds in terms of milk productivity.
A typical Saanen doe may yield 3 percent to 4 percent milk fat, making them the ideal choice for commercial purposes.
These animals are easy to care for and maintain, which makes them an attractive option not only for those looking to produce milk and other dairy-related products but also for individuals raising goats as household pets.
How Much Milk Does a Saanan Goat Produce Per Day?
On average, a Saanen Goat can produce up to three gallons of high-quality milk per day!
This type of goat is especially well-suited for small farms, as their relatively small size compared to other dairy goats keeps maintenance costs and space requirements to a minimum.
Is Saanen Milk Good?
This type of milk is said to have one of the highest levels of fat and protein compared to other kinds of milk.
It also has several anti-oxidative properties, helping to lower cholesterol levels and boost immunity.
Can You Raise Saanen Goats for Meat?
One might assume that raising Saanen Goats for meat production is easy and economical, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Although a hardy breed of goat, the Saanen’s meat doesn’t taste as good as other breeds, which makes it less desirable than other breeds when it comes to producing goat meat.
Finding a market for the product can be tricky as well. Therefore, you’d be better off sticking to another breed of meat goat (like Boer) instead.
Can You Raise Saanen Goats for Fiber?
Raising goats for fiber can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. However, it is important to remember that not all goat breeds are suited to this purpose.
Saanen goats, for example, have long been prized for their meat and milk production rather than the qualities of their fur or wool.
Although the softness and insulating capabilities of the Saanen’s coats are impressive in their own right, these animals simply do not produce enough fiber to make them suitable as an option for those looking to cultivate textiles from their flock.
In short, if you’re looking for a breed that produces substantial amounts of wool or other types of fibers for knitting or weaving, then Saanen goats most likely aren’t the way to go.
Pros and Cons of Saanen Goats
The most notable benefit of raising Saanens is their exceptional milk production.
This breed has been bred over time to produce high volumes of milk—in fact, they can produce up to three times more than other dairy breeds, such as Nubians or Toggenburgs.
Not only that, but Saanens are known for their gentle personalities. These goats tend to be laid back and easygoing, which makes them great for children who want to learn how to raise farm animals.
Saanen goats have proven to be hardy and resilient animals. Their hooves are highly resistant to disease, and they don’t require much maintenance.
They make great pack animals as their long legs, and strong hooves allow them to traverse rough terrain with ease.
In addition, Saanen goats are world-famous for the quality of milk they produce, making them ideal dairy goats.
Highly intelligent, they get along well with other animals and children. These qualities mean that Saanen goats are low-maintenance and perfect for first-time farmers looking for a friendly animal.
Despite these benefits, there are some drawbacks to owning this particular breed as well.
For starters, because they were selectively bred for milk production, they tend to have higher nutrition needs than other breeds.
This means that you will need more hay and grain in order to keep them healthy and happy.
Plus, because these goats are so docile by nature, they may not be able to protect themselves if predators enter your property—so it’s important to stay vigilant when it comes to keeping an eye out for potential threats.
Tips for Raising Saanen Goats
Raising Saanen goats can be a satisfying experience, but taking care of these animals requires some special considerations.
Be Aware of the Climate
Raising Saanen Goats can be quite a rewarding experience, but it’s important to understand their needs.
They need to be in temperatures that are cool but not too cold, so it’s important to provide ample shade and limit their exposure to direct sunlight.
You may want to consider finding shelter or constructing a fence if the goat barn doesn’t provide enough protection.
Good Shelter is Essential
One of the most important aspects of providing for a Saanen goat is shelter.
These goats have light-colored skin and short fur, making them more vulnerable to sunburn and other environmental hazards when left exposed to the elements.
Dedicating an area with plenty of space and ample cover from the wind, cold, and rain will ensure they stay happy and healthy throughout their lives.
Keep Them Together
One key tip is to keep the goats in herds to ensure they stay healthy and happy. Herds provide companionship while reducing stress.
A good idea when forming herds is to group similar-aged goats together—an all-adult herd or a mixed bunch of adults and kids, for example.
Don’t Be Afraid of Hilly Terrain
One of the most important tips is to allow your Saanens to roam hilly terrain. This type of goat originates in the Swiss Alps and is well-suited for trekking through large hills and valleys.
Not only will this keep your goats entertained, but it also ensures they stay healthy with plenty of exercise and stimulation.
Build Tall Fences and Prevent Digging
When raising Saanen goats, building tall fences and preventing digging are essential tasks to ensure their safety and security.
These animals require sturdy boundaries around their perimeter to keep them safe from predators and other risks.
Keep in mind that Saanens possess superior agility, so the fences should be constructed with several layers of heavy-duty materials to prevent any attempts of escape.
Moreover, the fencing must be buried several inches into the ground to prevent any headstrong goats from attempting to dig underneath it.
Provide a Balanced Diet
During the grazing seasons, Saanen goats will need to have access to many types of grasses and legumes so that their diet will naturally offer a vitally balanced variety.
For the autumn and winter months, when pasture is limited, it’s important to provide plenty of nutrient-rich supplementary feed.
High milk production requires extra vitamins and minerals. Don’t forget fresh water as part of your goat’s daily nourishment.
All goats need it for the proper regulation of digestion and overall health!
Where to Buy Saanen Goats?
If you are looking for a Saanen goat to add to your farm, there are a few places to buy them.
It is likely that the most cost-effective option is purchasing a kid directly from a local breeder.
Depending on its quality, the price of the goat can range anywhere from $100 – $300.
If your goal is to add strong milk production to your farm, however, it may be worth considering buying a proven nanny who has a record of high production.
The cost of this type of Saanen goat will vary based on its history and current condition, but it will likely come with a higher price tag than the kids.
What is the Lifespan of a Saanen Goat?
Saanen goats, known for their use in the dairy and meat industries, are an incredibly hardy breed of animal.
They have a lifespan between nine and fifteen years, with the potential for increased longevity if properly cared for.
With proper nutrition, exercise, and adequate space, Saanen goats can live anywhere from a decade to almost two decades.
Breeding-wise, Saanens only mate once annually with a gestation period of 150 days, allowing them to produce one or occasionally two babies every year—making them relatively low maintenance amongst larger animals like cattle and horses.
Saanen Goats: Final Thoughts
Saanen goats are an ideal choice for just about any farm. They are known for their milk production and their longevity.
They are friendly creatures and do not require complicated daily maintenance, so they would also make suitable pets.
All in all, Saanen goats are a great choice if you’re looking to add a little something unique to your farm. They’re sure to bring life into any space that needs a bit more energy!