Goat breeds

Troupeau de chèvres Saanen - Crédit : Capgènes
Troupeau de chèvres Saanen - Crédit : Capgènes
Summary of the article

 Traits and performances

The Saanen, named after the Saanen valley in Switzerland, is mainly farmed in central, western and south-eastern France.

This stocky, big-boned all-white goat boasts a mild temperament. It has excellent dairy traits, and it’s suitable for all kinds of farming systems, including intensive set-ups.

The udder is well-attached and has a very large top section. It has a good feet & legs on a well-balanced frame. The Saanen counts 350,000 goats in France, ranking second most popular breed, representing 40% of the national herd stock. Saanen is also the world’s most widely distributed dairy goat breed.


The breeding programme coordinated by Capgènes encompasses both the Alpine and Saanen breeds. The scheme aims to quantitatively and qualitatively improve cheese production per goat, by working on quantity of protein and butterfat produced per goat and per lactation and milk protein and butterfat content as chief selection criteria.

The selection flocks counts 100,000 goats under official milk recording system, together with their pedigree recording. Every year, the best goats of the selection flocks are shortlisted for around 1,000 planned matings via artificial insemination with breed-improver bucks.

Males produced through these planned matings are examined and eventually selected to enter in semen production centre, where they will be further selected on sanitary and overall health status criteria.

At this stage, the best bucks are monitored for individual performances in on-station testing, in order to shortlist which males qualify to produce frozen insemination-ready semen straws, and then progeny-tested to calculate the core composite dairy merit indexes: milk index, milk protein content index (’ITP’), milk butterfat content index (’ITB’), total protein index (’IMP’), total fat index (’IMG’).

Based on the level of genetics achieved, the 30 to 40 best bucks are selected as artificial insemination seedstock. Every year, 45% of all goats in the selection flocks are inseminated, which ensures genetic improvements get widely propagated, while offering farmers guaranteed animal health and quality genetics.

This breeding program has had visible positive impacts: over the last decade, genetic improvement has added 13 kg of milk per lactation and per year, together with an average 0.1g/kg year-on-year increase in milk protein and butterfat content. The planned matings recommended through the scheme also integrate genetic variability in addition to raw genetic improvement in order to secure long-term sustainable effectiveness for the selection programme.


Key figures

  • 944 flocks under official milk recording system
  • 110,645 goats under official milk recording system
  • 26,210 artificial inseminations
  • Adult goat weight:
    50 à 90 kg
  • Adult buck weight:
    80 à 120 kg
  • Milk yield: 945 kg in 298 days
  • Fat content: 3.56 %
  • Crude protein content: 3.36 %

Official milk recording results 2014 - Institut de l’Elevage & France Conseil Elevage



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