Savanna Goat Breed Overview

savanna goat breed

The Savanna goat (also spelled Savannah goat) is a meat goat breed with origins in South Africa. Evidence of goats in South Africa goes back to the fifth and sixth centuries, when the Bantu and Khoekhoe migrated southward and brought with them the various multi-coloured goats that would become the indigneous landraces of South Africa. The origin of the Savanna goat dates back to the 1950’s when Cilliers and Sons bred the mixed-colored indigenous does with a large white buck. What followed was a period of natural selection that worked on wild-ranging indigenous goats in the unfavorable conditions of the veld. Cilliers and Sons are widely known as the first breeders of the Savanna goat breed. The Savanna goat society was founded by South African breeders in 1993.

Savanna Goats cross the ocean

It’s the year 1995, and South African born Tollie Jordaan has teamed up with American Jurgen Shultz to export the South African Boer goat breed known as CODI/PCI. Thrown into the giant herd eventually imported into the US were a few Savannah goats, with their stand out white coat. At the time Jurgen Shultz didn’t believe the Savanna breed was known enough to sell to any self-respecting breeder, so it wouldn’t be until 1998 when the small herd would be sold on to breeders throughout the US. There are now thought to be roughly 130 Savanna goat breeders now in the US, and a full blood Savanna will now go for between $800- $2,000.

Characteristics

The Savanna goat is medium to large in size. Savanna goats have lop ears, thick pliable skin, a short smooth white coat and black horns. They have a lively alert appearance. Height to withers 19-25 inches.

Buck: Masculine, proud, robust, and well muscled, weighing 200-250 pounds or more.

Doe: Medium size with a refined and feminine look.

Breed Traits and Adaptability

The Savanna White Goat is a strong, virile, functionally efficient goat with excellent meat qualities. Bred to withstand the harsh conditions of the South African veld, the Savanna breed endures extremes of heat, intense sunshine, cold, and rain, making the Savanna a goat with unmatched hardiness. They adapt to environments well, and once acclimatised require little intervention.

Breeding

Year round. Does are highly fertile with a multiple birth rate under sub-prime conditions. They have an excellent mothering ability and great milking production. Savanna goats exhibit a high twin rate.

Uses

The Savanna goat can fetch up to $2,000 when sold onto breeders. They are known to have excellent meat carcasses, making them a popular choice of meat goat, and can also provide high quality skin and good quality cashmere, though in smaller quantities per goat.

Breed Standards

Head

Head: Savannas should exhibit a reasonably long, slightly curved head, with head and nose fairly broad and not sharp.

Mouth: Reasonably wide. Well-muscled, strong jaws. Bite solid and correct on the dental pads of the upper jaw

Eyes: Lively with black pigmented eyelids. Skin protected by well developed eyebrow ridges.

Ears: Reasonably big, oval shaped, and hung down next to the head. The ears should be well pigmented and mobile to protect the goat against insects.

Horns: Dark black and backwards from the crown of the head. Strong and oval shaped, not pressing against the neck and not grown wild or too long. Bucks have slightly stronger, heavier horns than Does, at the base there should be a reasonable width between the horns.

savanna goat characterstics

Neck, Body, Forequarters, and Hindquarters

Neck: Muscular and fairly long.

Body: The centerpiece will be reasonably long and deep on the goat. Savannas have well sprung ribs and an oval respiratory centerpiece.

Forequarter: Well muscled and of medium width. Narrow or wide forequarters are outside of breed standards.

Hindquarter and Hindlegs: The hindquarters are wide, well muscled, and carrying a lot of meat. The rump exhibiting a reasonable slope. The hindquarters must be. The hocks must be strong and muscular and the tendons of the hocks must be prominent and easily seen, they should not turn in or out and the goat must be able to stand easily on its hind legs. The tail of the South African Savanna White Goat must be straight up and be well covered with hair and should be very mobile and the bare skin of the tail should also have black pigmentation.

Legs and Hooves

Front legs straight and placed well apart. Pasterns of both front and hind legs will be strong, springy and slightly sloping. Scapulas or shoulder-blades strongly attached to both forequarter and withers. Spinous process and withers will be higher than the back or rump.

Both front and hind leg hooves should be strong, hard, black and of a good size. The two sections of each hoof must be close to each other. Hooves must not be overgrown or easily become sore and develop foot rot.

Sexual Organs and Teats

Buck: Two large, well-formed, healthy and equal sized testes in a single scrotum with a split no larger than 2 cm. The scrotum will be a minimum of 26 cm in circumference. One teat on each side of the scrotum ideal, two on a side acceptable.

Doe: Well-formed udder firmly attached. Two functional teats ideal. Double teats are not acceptable, but one teat with 2 orifices are can be accepted, but must be eliminated. Teats with a small blind teat are acceptable. The maximum teats on a side are three: two functional, one small and blind, OR 1 functional and two small and blind. Functional teats with a small blind teat will be accepted. All teats will be separate from each other.

Cull defects

Any deviation from the normal bodily structure that may harm the functional effectiveness of the South African Savanna, such as an undershot jaw, knock knees, bandy legs, cow hocked or post legged or sickle hocked. Legs that are too thin or too fleshy. Weak pasterns and hoofs pointing outwards or inwards. Faulty sexual organs and udders. Incomplete or light skin pigmentation.

For more information visit the website for pedigree international: http://pedigreeinternational.com/

Raising your Savanna goat

As a low-input breed, Savanna goats are excellent foragers and are able to grow rapidly with little supplemental food or nutrition. They are resistant to parasites and tolerate heat and cold well. Savanna goats will need roughly 250 feet of pasture space per goat for exercise and socialising. High quality food and mineral supplements will need to be provided for the goats. They are happiest with large amounts of weedy, brushy pasture, so they are great if you’re looking to clear weedy undergrowth or pasture for other grazers.

savanna goat baby

If Savanna goats are not pastured they will be relying on provided food, so the nutritional composition of their feed is vital. You should provide both the right quantity of food and quality of nutrients so they gain weight.

Fencing and shelter

Although Savanna goats are hardy, they will need shelter in rough weather. In mild weather they will be happy with a robust, three-sided shelter and fresh bedding. Fencing your Savanna will require a sturdy structure that will keep them in, and keep out the predators. It should be at least 6 feet in height, with posts that have cement footing or have been dug in a minimum of two feet. Depending on the landscape, an electric wire at the bottom and top of the fence may be required to contain these tough goats.

Breeding

Although your Savanna may be bred from as early as 6 months, they tend to breed more successfully when reaching at least 75-80% of their mature size and body weight, so that early breeding will not affect their mature size.

If they have been separated, your savanna should be grouped together buck with buck; doe with doe and wether. Do it several weeks before breeding as goats are social animals, and will spend time establishing the pecking order. It is best done well before breeding, so stress and fighting will not affect their breed performance.

Inspect the health of your goats. Any necessary vaccinations or deworming should be done before the breeding season. If breeding does are thin, they may need to be flushed after deworming, meaning breeding does will need to be given additional food for 2-3 weeks prior to breeding. Ample nutrition increases ovulations and thereby the likelihood of multiple births, but studies show that this practice is only effective in does that are in poor body condition.

savanna goat herd

Your savanna will also need to have its legs, feet, and hooves inspected and trimmed so that its feet are in excellent health. If either are limping and lame, they may refuse to breed. Bucks will cover a lot of ground during breeding, requiring healthy feet to perform.

Keeping your own purebred Savanna goat is the single best way to control the breeding of your goats and the quality of your kids. However, keeping a buck can be a challenge on a smaller farm; they need to be enclosed separately from does, kids, and wethers outside of breeding season. Furthermore, their enclosure needs to be much sturdier, and they need to be kept well away from does so that they don’t try to climb, jump, or break their fence.

During breeding, bucks and does should be in a mixed herd for approximately 40-45 days. One buck for every 20-30 does is a typical ratio. Does usually enter estrus 2-3 days after the introduction of the buck, depending on her body condition, his sexual aggressiveness, and the degree of exposure. The first ovulation is usually low fertility, but with prolonged contact, does will enter a high fertility estrus approximately 5 days after the first.

Leaving the bucks and does together for over 40 days ensures that does have two fertile estrus cycles, and increases the likelihood that they will be bred.

Overall

Developed from hardy, indigenous goats in South Africa, the Savanna is a meat goat that is easy care, resistant to tick-borne diseases, and tolerant of common worms and parasites. Savanna goats are an independent, self-sufficient breed, which can result in lower feed costs if provided plenty of weedy, brushy pasture. They combine hardiness with an even temperament, and the does have excellent mothering ability with their kids.

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