This goat breed looks as white as snow on the outside but they’re actually black-skinned. It may look vulnerable and weak, but it’s a breed designed to survive the harshest conditions of the African savanna. Can you recognize what breed of goat it is?
It’s not the famous Boer goat or Saanen — it actually belongs to the Savanna goat breed. They may not be as popular as the latter, but this kind boasts several characteristics that make it ideal for farmers looking for hardy breeds.
Do you know what makes this breed unique among hundreds of other goat breeds?
In this article, we’ll spill everything you need to know about Savanna goats, including:
- Its defining characteristics and the qualities that make it economical
- The history of Savanna goats and how they can serve you
- And some other helpful facts that you should know before purchasing this breed
So, What’s a Savanna Goat?
The Savanna goat is a large-frame well-muscled meat goat breed that originated from South Africa.
They’re usually characterized by white coats because this coat allele is dominant over others. But their skin, horns, and hooves are black, which helps protect them from the sun’s blazing heat, especially in South African veld.
Do you want to know more about this charming but resilient breed? Here are more facts about the Savanna goat breeds and their characteristics.
Savanna Goat Breed’s Physical Characteristics
Here’s a look into savanna goat characteristics from its size to its coat color and horns.
Savanna goat size
Most Savanna goats stand at around 1.64 to 2.08 feet.
These goats are medium to large in scale, with mature goats averaging 130 pounds or 58.87 to 60 kilograms.
Savanna goat buck is usually heavier because it’s heavily muscled, more masculine, and robust, while the female ones are more feminine and have more refined muscles than males.
Savanna goat hair and skin color
The Savanna goats feature short yet smooth white hair or coat all over their body with highly pigmented skin.
Their dark grey or black skin enables them to stay cool even if they’re under intense sunlight without suffering from sunburn.
Savanna goat’s horn
Their horns are black as their skin, and it grows from the crown of their heads and bends back towards their shoulders.
It’s oval, but it does not press against their necks. Savanna goat bucks usually have more robust and heavier horns than the does’.
Savanna goat’s ears
This breed has medium to large white ear lobs that hangs as long as their chin.
What Are Savanna Goats Used For?
Savanna goat breed was primarily bred and domesticated to produce healthy and low-fat meat with a balanced lean carcass and tender and tasty taste at a young age.
They can also produce creamy milk for their kids, but they’re not ideal for milk production since they make less than other famous milk goats.
Savanna goats also have excellent browsing skills, upward extended necks, strong jaws, long-lasting teeth, strong hind legs, and insensitive stomachs, making them great for clearing out ranch shrubs.
On top of that, they have excellent skin quality and white cashmere, which may be small in quantities but still adds value to its prize.
Savanna Goat Breed’s Origin and History
According to the Animal Improvement Institute of South Africa, the breed’s origin traces back to the DSU Cilliers and Son’s farm along the Vaal River. In this typical savanna veld, animals must adapt to survive.
In 1957, Lubbe Cilliers bred a multi-colored lob-eared goat with a large white buck.
And the resulting offspring was a fertile, heat and parasite tolerant, a drought-resistant goat with black skin that’s perfect for the savanna’s condition and good quality meat.
Letting the natural selection do the job enabled the goat to be hardy despite the harsh conditions in the South African savanna veld.
Due to its white coloration, hardiness, and ability to produce tasty meat at an early age, this breed has captured the attention of farmers and ranchers.
Then, Jurgen Schultz imported the Savanna goats from the Cilliers farm in 1994 along with some Boer goats. But before they brought them to his Texas ranch, he quarantined the goats first in Florida in 1995.
They became one of the American ranchers’ favorite breeds, and in 1998, Schultz farm sold the surviving herd and their kids to Boer ranchers.
This breed also found its way to Canada between 1999 and 2001 when South African pioneer breeders exported two embryos into the country.
It paved the way for further imports, where they brought live goats to North Carolina and California.
Koenie Kotze and Amie Scholtz also exported Savanna goat embryos to Australia and brought the offspring to Georgia.
Savanna goats are still rare in other countries these days, but according to FAO, it’s not at risk in South Africa despite not having exact total numbers.
Savanna Goats vs. Boer Goats Comparison
Boer goats are the descendants of Savanna goats and although they share several traits, there are also differences between the two.
So in this Savanna vs Boer goats section, we’ll talk about their similarities and the things that sets them apart.
- Both good meat quality and fast reproduction.
- They have a white smooth coat and pigmented skin color
- Both are polyestrous, so they can both breed throughout the year.
- Boer and Savanna goats both achieve sexual maturity at five months of age.
- The breeding program of both goats is also similar because farmers aim to produce three kid crops each year.
- That means that the Savanna and Boer does get pregnant for five months, nurse their kids for three months and then rebreed.
Differences Between Boer and Savanna Goats
- Savanna goats are hardier than Boer Goats.
- They’re less picky eaters compared to Boer goats.
- Boer goats have a redhead with portions of red on the neck and white body, while Savanna goats are all white.
How Savanna Goat Breed Reproduce
As said earlier, Savanna does are polyestrous, which means that they have multiple periods of estrus in a year. Therefore, they can breed at any time of the year.
Savanna does pregnancy
Each doe usually gives birth to one to three kids, but this breed has a high twinning rate, so having twins is common. However, first-time mothers typically produce only one kid.
Does kid after five months of pregnancy and wean their kids after three months.
Weaning the kids
During the weaning process, the kids can already have the same diets as the mature goats. You can feed the goats with grains and browse for foods like weeds, shrub leaves, fruits, and shoots.
On the other hand, their mother can breed and reproduce again right after weaning.
100-day weaning weight buck kids: 30 kg
100-day weaning weight doe kids: 25 kg
Kids’ sexual maturity
The young goats become sexually mature just one to three months after weaning, and they can reproduce as young as 4 to 6 months old.
Breeding Savanna goats
Most farmers who want to reproduce more Savanna goats mate their herd for three crops of kids every two years.
All of the does in a flock can be bred by a single buck. However, it’s critical to keep each buck’s mating activities under control to maintain genetic diversity.
Allowing a buck to mate with his kids, mother, or sisters is detrimental to the flock’s genetics and quality.
Savanna Goat Breed’s Lifespan
Like other breeds, Savanna goats can live up to 12 to 15 years. However, this could vary depending on their diet, lifestyle, and health conditions. Those in top shape can live up to 18 years.
The most common diseases that affect Savanna goats include the following:
1. Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE)
2. Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL)
3. Paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease)
Aside from diseases, another factor influencing their lifespan is their predators.
But what animals pose a threat to them?
Savanna Goat’s Predators
Like other goats, this breed is prone to attacks from large carnivores, including :
- mountain lions
- African lions
- and coyotes
Their young kids are also preyed upon by smaller predators such as eagles and dogs.
Predators usually stalk them before seizing a goat herd or a susceptible individual.
Meat-eaters such as big cats, brown bears, and canines frequently prey on the flock’s weakest, oldest, and smallest members, while eagles prey on the group’s youngest and tiniest members.
But, technically, people are their greatest threat since they are grown and kept by humans as meat providers.
Savanna Goat Breed’s Diet
Savanna goats are excellent browsers, which means that they prefer to consume the leaves and other vegetation of higher-growing woody plants over the pasture.
They typically eat shrubs and trees’ leaves, shoots, fruits, and other parts. Many farmers and ranchers utilize these goats to suppress shrub growth on ranchlands.
Savanna goats, like other goats, will nibble and chew on just about anything that seems like it might be tasty. They also tend to chew clothing, hair, baskets, and other non-food items.
If you’re planning to put Savanna goats in a pen, you need to provide them with grains, grass, alfalfa, or clover hay. They can also eat corn, but it must only be 50% of their daily diet.
Raising savanna goats is not difficult since they’re hardy but it’s still best to provide them with the best nutrition to gain more meat and healthier kids.
You also need to ensure that your Savanna goats won’t eat the following poisonous plants:
- Black cherry
- Bracken fern
- China berries
- Dog fennel
- Curly dock
- Eastern Baccharis
- Red-root pigweed
- Virginia creeper
These plants may cause digestion problems like diarrhea and, in worse cases, death.
Savanna Goat Breed’s Population
The breed’s population in South Africa is unknown, but over 3,000 Savanna goats were registered in the breeder’s society in the US.
There is no data about the Savanna goat population in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South America. But the numbers are increasing, thanks to different breeding programs and flock management.
In 2014, there were about 20 Savanna goat breeders in the country which are members of the breeder’s society.
Is Savanna Goat Breed Hardy?
Savanna goats are South African meat goats, so they are hardy animals that have adapted to the harsh environment in South African pasture land or grassland.
Therefore, they can endure changing temperatures, intense heat, cold, and rain.
Their ability to live well in extreme weather conditions that aren’t suitable for herd animals like cows and other goat breeds is one of the reasons why they’re a prized breed today.
Savanna goats are resilient and can produce quality meat despite living in sparse vegetation and periodic drought.
They’re also resistant to tick-borne diseases and tolerant of goat worms and other parasites.
But to give you an idea of why this goat breed is considered hardy here’s a background about their natural habitat.
Savanna Goat’s Habitat
As its name suggests, Savanna goats originally lived in savannas, specifically the plains of South Africa. It’s a mix of grasslands and woodlands, but this biome does not have many trees.
The temperature changes drastically, so animals need to adapt to intense heat, drought, and heavy rains.
So you can only imagine how challenging it is for goats to survive this kind of environment.
Even the local farmers struggle with such conditions. But thanks to hardy domesticated goats like Savanna, they can produce good quality meat for their families and make business.
Since they can endure harsh living conditions in South African savannas, it’s expected that they can also thrive in South and North America, New Zealand, and Australia, which have similar climates.
Savanna Goat Temperament
This breed is docile and amenable but also lively. These goats tend to run, jump, climb roofs and jump fences which can be sometimes hard to handle, but most people find them adorable and funny.
They also have good mothering abilities. They’re protective and bond well with their kids.
Savanna goats are flock animals, so they thrive in flocks but keeping these lively goats can be quite challenging.
How Much Do Savanna Goats Cost?
Purebred savanna goats cost around $750 and $2000. Savanna Boer goat cross or mixes are way cheaper since you can buy them at about half the cost of purebred Savannas.
There’s a slight difference in quality, but they share many common attributes since Boer goats are the breeding parents of the Savanna goat breed.
So, if you’re looking for a cheaper option, mixed breeds will be ideal for you.
Pros and Cons of Savanna Goats
Common Questions About the Savanna Goat Breed
Are Savanna goats good for milk?
Savanna goat breed is excellent in milk production because they produce thick and creamy milk for their kids, but most farmers raise them for meat.
Farmers usually start slaughtering savanna goats in their third to the fifth months of age when they produce the best quality and least fatty meat.
How long is a savanna goat’s gestation?
A savanna goat’s gestation usually lasts around 150 days. They start weaning at about three months and become sexually mature between four to six months. These goats can breed again right away after weaning their young kids to produce up to 3 litters every two years.
Are Savanna goats seasonal breeders?
Savanna goats are not seasonal breeders. It’s a highly fertile breed and produces abundant offspring with a high twinning rate, even unfavorable conditions. But it’d best to mate them when there is enough feed available since they need more food and higher nutrition during gestation.
Do Savanna goats breed year-round?
They’re not seasonal breeders, so, yes, savannah goats do breed year-round. This breed has strong jaws, durable and strong teeth, and strong legs. In fact, they can stand on their hind legs, which enables them to browse for leaves, brush, and other food even in intense heat, cold, or rain.
Final Takeaways About Savanna Goat Breed
We hope you enjoyed learning about Savanna goats.
As you discovered, the Savanna goat breed features a white coat with black skin that protects them from getting sunburn. This breed is hardy and resilient as it can endure the harsh living conditions in South African savannas.
In fact, these goats are more resilient than their descendants, the Boer breed and they’re ideal for meat production because they provide tasty meat at a young age.
Savanna meat goats also have excellent browsing skills and they’re not picky eaters so they’re ideal for clearing shrubs in ranchland.
So, if you’re looking for a hardy meat goat breed for your farm or homesteading, Savanna goat breeds are worth considering.