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ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF SAVANNA GOATS

 
By DR. Quention P. Campbell 14 Dersley Street, Boemfontein, South Africa

  From the indigenous goats the well known redhead Boer goat and lesser known red and white Savanna goats were bred. Also the mouse-ear or short ear goat were bred from the indigenous goats.
  The best known Savanna stud is the white goat of D.S.U. Cilliers & Sons of Olieriver Douglas. This stud was started in 1957 in a thorn bush camp close to the Vaal River. These goats originated from a variety of indigenous ewes and a good robust white male goat. As a result of natural selection and unfavourable environmental conditions such as drought, heat and cold only the fittest and best adapted goat survived. From these goats with the aid of strict selection for fertility, growth rate and muscular development outstanding meat producing Savanna goats were bred.
  At a meeting of indigenous goat breeders, South Africa goat farmers on November 21, 1993 at Olierivier decided to form a Savanna Goat Breeders Society. Breed standards as well as constitution were drawn up and the Society joined the South African Stud Book Association.
  On another meeting on November 19, 1996 at Olieriver it was decided to accept breeder of red goats, 'Skilder' or roan goats and mouse-ear goats as well as white Savanna goats as members of the Savanna Goat Society.
  Since then Savanna Goat Socciety has expanded rapidly and during March 1998 a successful National Champion Show with 160 goats was held at Bloemfontien. Sales of Savanna goats are held regularly at Olieriver and Prieska.
ADAPTED GOATS AND ADAPTABILITY
  The Savanna goat is as a result breeding and natural selection well adapted to survive and reproduce under unfavorable conditions, not only in South Africa, but also in other countries with similar climatic conditions. Savanna goat can utilize poor grazing and thorn bushes and shrubs due to their wide spectrum grazing habits. It also appears as if this goat breed has a natural resistance against tick and other external parasites, due to their thick well pigmented mobile skins. Savanna goats are also very adoptable and can adopt themselves to survive and reproduce in high as well as low rainfall regions and countries.
BREEDING AND SELECTION
  The breeding and selection of Savanna's are relative easy. The selection of breeding rams as well as ewes must be accurately carried out. Apart from breed, strict selection for well adapted goat must carried out, to maintain hardiness of these unique breed.
  Record of performance and the pedigrees of the close ancestors of these goats should receive a lot of attention. Kids must be fitted with number discs soon after birth and date of birth and birth status (single, twin, triplets) and weighed again in order to accurately determine their growth rates. By selection for pre-weaning growth the milk production of the ewes are also evaluated.
Mating period of 42 days is sufficient because this will include two oestrus cycles. Savanna ewe should come regularly in heat.
As Savannas are sexually active during the whole year, mating should take place to ensure that kids are born when there is maximum grazing. This is usually during the autumn months in the summer rainfall areas in South Africa.
Savanna males are sexually fertile and active and therefore one ram can be mated to fifty or more ewes.
Stud breeders often make use of hand mating in order to to make maximum use of an outstanding sire.
By the use of sponges and then artifically inseminating the ewes stud improvement can be further accelerated.
Flock breeders make use mostly of mass mating by mating a ram to forty ewes.
Ewes in fairly good condition and grazing on shrubs and bushes with a fair number of green shoots and seed pods will easily become pregnant.
Young males are sexually active at a young age and should be taken away from ewes when they are abour three months old.
An outstanding male kid can be mated with a limited number of ewes when about seven months old.
During a phase D test at Olieriver Savanna male kids performed very well and had an average gain per day of 137 grams.
NUTRITION
Savanna goats have relative simple and low nutritional requirements and can survive and reproduce where other small stock breeds can not exist.
Savannas have a wide spectrum veld utilization ability and will therefore eat bushes, trees and shrubs which are unpalatable to other sheep and goats are often used to control brush encroachment and control thorn bushes.
Savanna goats can also thrive on planted pastures and under intensive conditions that will produce a large number of fast growing twin and triplet kids. Basically Savannas are the ultimate easy care goats. In order to prepare Savanna goats for a show or sale, is relative simple and can be prepared in six weeks time. However Savanna goats should not be overfed and against over-fed goats are severely ddiscriminated on shows.
MANAGEMENT
As Savanna goats are very hardy, there management is very simple.
At Olieriver Savanna goats are not inoculated against any diseases. If ticks and midges are very severe, Savannas are treated with a pour on dip. When kids are weaned they are dosed against milk worms.
WHY FARM WITH SAVANNAS?
For many years farmers who bred indigenous goats were considered bad uneducated breeders. If you did not breed Angoras or Boer goats you were considered inefficient.
Trials conducted at Ellisras in The Northern bushveld with Loskop-south indigenous rams did not develop mouth, let or hoof problems as was the case with some Boer goats.
White Savanna goats developed fine cashmere fibres of high quality during winter months. However all Savanna goats are mainly selected for growth and carcass traits and muscling. Savanna goats produce a high net profit because of low input costs. These goats have a low mortality and are to a large extent disease resistant. Very good mothering ability and milk production of ewes ensure fast growing kids. Savanna ewes must be able to kid in the veld and rear their kids without assistance of artificial aids and without karrling the kids. Savanna goats require minimum handling or care.

MASSES Male Kids Female Kids
100 Days 35 kg / 78 lbs 30 kg / 67 lbs
12 Months
70 kg
45 kg
24 Months
85 kg
50 kg
36 Months
105 kg
65 kg

DR. Campbell also wrote as follows:

SAVANNA GOATS
THE EASY CARE BREED WITH UNLIMITED POTENTIAL

Apart from the ability to produce high quality red meat from low quality grazing, intact young Savanna white goat males are slaughtered during certain religious and ceremonial occasions. In fact such a high premium is paid for these young male goats that great care should be taken not to slaughter young Savanna males which should be retained for breeding purposes.
  The indigenous white goat stud of Messrs. D.S.U. Cilliers and Sons was started in approximately 1957 from a mixture of coloured indigenous ewes and a white ram. Since its inception the nucleous flock of this stud consiting of approximately one hundred ewes was bred as a closed stud. Selection was aimed at breeding a white heat and parasite resistant functionally efficient meat producing goat. These white goats were kept in a Savanna type camp close to the Vaal River had to survive under extremely unfavorable conditions. As a result of natural selection, nature's inexorable law, namely survival of the fittest, played a big role in the development of these fertile easy care heat and drought resistent animals. These goats have thick pliable skins with short white hair. Apart from reproduction, muscular development, good bone, and strong legs, hooves and pasterns, these goats are selected for totally black well pigmented skins. As a result of this and natural selection the skins of these goats as well as the horns, hooves and all bare skin areas which can be injured by strong ultra-violet rays, have totally black pigmentation. The skins of Savanna goats are very valuable and in great demand by the leather trade and are used to produce high quality leather goods.
  In the case of both rams and ewes overdeveloped or overshot lower jaws do not occur. Despite the relatively high level of inbreeding in this closed stud no degeneration due to inbreeding has yet been observed. This is probably due to the fact that as a result of natural selection weaker animals are quickly and efficiently eliminated during parturation or soon thereafter.
.Copyright and Credit Information.Jerry Webb still needs to work on this page Feb. 27, 2002, Feb 9,2003.