Since 1904 the Saanen has been one of the most popular breeds of dairy goats in America. Some are drawn by the pleasing aesthetics of a pasture of uniformly white animals. Some are drawn to Saanens by their large size, vitality, herd compatibility and their “eager to please” temperament. 

The largest part of their popularity, however, is due to their milking ability. The latest figures furnished by USDA-AIPL show Saanens surpass all of the other breeds with production averages for 1999 of 2351# milk, 3.4% butterfat and 3.1% protein. The All Time High Producing Saanen record holders are: Milk (1997) JC-Reed’s Cloverhoof Haley 2*M AS0894085 4-00 305 6571 168/2.6% 162/2.5% bred by John and Colleen Reed, and Butterfat (2001) GCH AJ'S-Udder-Delight Karlada 6*M AS1049165 3-08 292-4540-246/5.4-120/2.6 bred by Andrea Green, Washington .

Another reason to consider Saanens is the interest and support that is offered by the National Saanen Breeders Association. No other breed offers a more progressive Association. NSBA has many programs that offer recognition for Saanens and their owners, both through the NSBA web site and the NSBA newsletter. 

The Saanen is the largest of the all the dairy breeds. Although ADGA’s minimum requirements for a mature Saanen doe is 30” in height, the breed average is 31-32”, with many reported as large as 35”. 
Saanen hair is short and fine, although a fringe over the spine and thighs is often present. The hair is white to creamy white, with the white being preferred. 
Ears should be erect and alertly carried, preferably pointing forward. 
The face may be straight or dished. 
The Saanen doe has a majestic air about her, which coupled with her milk producing ability, identifies her as  “Queen of the Dairy Goats”.

Saanens derived their name from the Saanen valley in the south of Canton Berne, Switzerland.  In 1893 several thousand head were taken out of the valley and spread throughout Europe.  Between 1904 and the 1930's approximately 150 Saanens were imported into the United States from Switzerland. Later importations came in via England.  2004 was a special year as it marked 100 years since the first documented Saanen was imported into the United States.

Today they have spread throughout the United States as one of the preferred dairy goats primarily because of their consistency in producing large quantities of milk in conjunction with their sturdiness, easy keep ability and capacity to tolerate environmental change.

Page last updated on 01/28/2014

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