Dairy goat breeds are especially valuable, and the first place among them rightfully belongs to the Zaanen breeds. It was bred in Switzerland more than five hundred years ago, but gained its popularity in the twentieth century. Today this breed of goats is very common in our country. All about the breed, caring for it and the peculiarities of cultivation in our article.
Description of the breed
The origin of the name is associated with the place of breeding of the breed, the town of Saanen, which is located in the Bernese Alps. For a long time, experts have been engaged in crossing various breeds of goats in order to breed one of the best. In Europe, it gained popularity only at the end of the 19th century, and was brought to Russia in 1905. The description of the breed will help the breeder with the choice.
The Zaanen goat is a rather large animal with a wide white body. The presence of cream and light yellow shades is allowed. The head is small and graceful with small horn-shaped ears directed forward. Goats are mostly hornless, but horned ones are also found, which does not affect the purebredity. The neck of the Saanen goat is long, often with earrings on the underside, the back line is straight. The breed is not subject to shearing, a short undercoat grows only when kept in the north. The limbs are set correctly, the muscles are well developed. The udder is spherical and very large. The table below shows a more detailed characteristic.
Anyone who decides to breed a Saanen goat should know well how it looks and understand the parameters and characteristics of the breed. The table will help with this.
The description of the Saanen breed
Height at withers
For goats - 45-55 kilograms, for goats - 70-80 kilograms
Fertility per 100 queens
From 180 to 250 kids per year
Weight of kids at birth
3.5-5 kilograms, are famous for their fast weight gain
Milk yield on average
700-800 kilograms per year
Average lactation period
Reference milk quality
Fat content - 3.2%, protein - 2.7%
Undoubtedly, Saanen goats can be considered the best dairy goats in the world. Such a goat always looks spectacular, it is large and white (see photo). If you are offered a goat of a different color, you should know that it has nothing to do with Saanen.
Below is a video, by watching which, it will be possible to further study the signs of this breed:
As you know, milk productivity largely depends on where and in what conditions the goat lives. Saanen milking goats have excellent acclimatization and adapt to live in different conditions. They are especially common in the west and south of Russia, in the Astrakhan region, as well as in Belarus and Moldova.
Saanen goats can be raised in the north of the country if the maintenance and care is appropriate. The quality of the milk is not affected. It is tasty, has no foreign odors, its fat content is 4-4.5%. The calculation of milk yield is taken on average, taking into account the fact that the goat will give birth to kids annually. Before lambing, milk is released in small quantities, and milk production reaches its maximum after the third birth.
The breed is also important for breeding. It is often used for crossing with other breeds to increase milk yield in low-yielding animals. Such work always gives a positive result.
Important! Animals of this breed are very fertile, so it is profitable to breed them.
Many are interested in the question of how many kids are born in one season. A goat, as a rule, can give birth to 2-3 kids, which quickly gain weight. The early maturity of the breed is extremely high: fruitful insemination occurs at the age of 6 months, if the growing conditions and nutrition correspond to the norms.
Pros and cons of the breed
After reviewing the information and watching the video above, we can say with confidence that it is profitable to breed animals of this breed. However, it is worthwhile to familiarize yourself in advance not only with the pros, but also with the cons of the Saannen goat.
The pluses include:
- a large number of milk yields;
- excellent genetic qualities for crossing;
- docile character;
- the possibility of breeding in various climatic zones;
- lack of an unpleasant odor inherent in other breeds.
All these qualities speak volumes, but when describing any breed, one cannot but tell about the cons. These include:
- exactingness in care (feeding should be of high quality);
- frequent and productive crossing can call into question the purebredness of the acquired animal;
- high price.
Indeed, today it is very difficult to find a purebred Saanen type, and its cost will be extremely high. Moreover, for beginners, the very process of choosing and determining the breed for a number of signs is often difficult. Crossbreeding made it possible to breed very similar specimens that can be passed off as purebred Saanen goats.
Often, breeding Saanen goats are imported from Holland, France and, of course, Switzerland. Please note that there are so-called colored Saanen goats. As a result of crossing, colored kids are often born, which can be considered Saanen for the reason that genetically transmission of the main parameters for milk yield is generally preserved from generation to generation.
Important! Colored goats of this breed are called Sable. Such an animal cannot be considered purebred, but this will not generally affect milk yield.
The photo shows a typical Sable breed (Dutch type).
Comparison with other breeds
It is difficult to find a breed to compare as Saanen goats have proven themselves to be excellent. We present to your attention a nubian goat of the meat and dairy type, which is also famous for its large milk yield.
Nubian goats are famous not only for their huge milk yield (up to 900 kilograms per year), but also for their delicious and tender meat. They also have a friendly and meek character, not aggressive, they love children. The difference in fat content of Zaanen and Nubian milk is noticeable: in the latter it is almost twice as fat (5-8%). The taste of milk is excellent, it does not have any foreign odors. The Nubian also gives birth to a good offspring: 2-3 goats per season, but often a goat can give birth twice a year. The Nubian goat is growing rapidly and gaining weight. Below you can see a video about this breed:
However, the Nubians have a number of features that will not allow raising goats throughout Russia:
- animals of the Nubian breed are thermophilic, most often grown in the southern regions;
- they are also demanding on food and care.
Feeding is done in a special way. Bred in South Africa, the breed often suffers in Russia from a lack of vitamins and minerals. The animal endures cold winters with difficulty, suffers, and the character trait does not allow growing them on large farms in the vicinity of other breeds and animals. The breeder is faced with the question of how to feed the goats, how to protect them from the attacks of blood-sucking insects.
In comparison with them, the Saanen breed of goats is more unpretentious in care.
Reviews of Saanen goats are positive, which is why they have gained immense popularity among farmers around the world. Today, Saanen goats are bred in Australia, the USA, Latin America and Asia, not just in Europe.
Tatiana Zhuk, Belarus
My husband and I have a small farm. Zaanen goats were purchased at one time in Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine. They are very large, and you can see it right away. Our goats look like aristocrats: graceful, beautiful. As a standard, this breed gives at least 3.5 liters of milk per day, ours give 5-8 liters. Milk is very tasty, does not have an unpleasant odor, which is what it is famous for. Goats reach sexual maturity by 6-8 months, and can be mated at 10-12 months with appropriate grooming and feeding. They do not require any special care. Saanen goats should not be fed cheap food and kept in a damp, cold room. This will affect milk yield. We use apples, cabbage, carrots, potatoes as top dressing. It is good to add oak and birch leaves, as well as crushed grain to the diet. They can live next to their children, as they are not threatened in any way. I advise everyone who is interested in dairy breeds to breed these goats. This one is rightfully considered the best.
Below is a video with recommendations for care:
We also present to your attention a video review of the main breeding mistakes:
Purebred Saanen goats should be kept in good conditions. They expect attention, love and a variety of food from the owners. If all the conditions are met, the goats will delight you with tasty and healthy milk for many years.