Courtesy of Shari Renya, Chairperson
ADGA History Committee
First, a bit of humor. In a very long letter appearing in THE GOAT WORLD, September 1918, a Mr. Robert J. Gregg, M.D. of Lakeside, CA. I’ll excerpt it as a prelude to the main course I have to offer you:
“It seems to me that color craze is the silliest of all the fads that obsess breeders of animals. Away back in my early boyhood I learned that there never was a ‘good horse of a bad color.’ . . . And as with color, so with color pattern. If a milk goat gives milk of the first quality, in sufficient quantity, and for a sufficient period of time, what — in the name of Mark Twain’s ‘Mysterious Stranger’ — does it matter whether she is black or white or red or blue, or (like Jacob’s goats) ‘ring-streatked, spotted and speckled?’
What –a BLACK Saanen? yes, ma’am — just that — and neither more nor less. I owned her, bought her of Prof. R. N. Cartwright. She is registered in the American Milch Goat Record. Her number (A.M.G.R.) is 427. She was bred by Will H. Miller, Carlisle, Pa. She was born March 14, 1912. She is registered as a Stucker Saanen. her sire was Saanen Chief III, A.M.G.R.A. 363. Her dam was Victorine, A.M.G.R., No. 367.
The register makes no comment on her color. I have understood that both her sire and dam were of the regulation white color. And –why should a pair of white Saanens have a kid that was mostly black? Ask some wise Mendalian, our friend Charles W. Hibbard, for instance.
Might ask him also why every once in a while a bud on a peach tree grows into a branch that bears nectarines. our cock-sure Mendelians can solve all such little conundrums as these. I am in the same “pickle” as her breeder was when he named the kid. Sire: white; dam, white; how came the kid black? And– the answer was her name–Damf-Ino.”
Now the real thing. In the May 1974 issue of the Dairy Goat Journal is an article (it continues in the June issue) by our own beloved (at least by me!) Allen Rogers. Before he wrote Saanen Roots. As a labor of love, I’ve typed up the first half of this article that has a lot to say about color in Saanens. And, because I am (alas!) also an historian, I looked up and added a few pedigrees of colored animals that referred back to animals named in his article. I will attach this Word document to this e-mail. Shari Renya ADGA History Chairperson
History of the Saanen
Written in 1948 by Allen Rogers (reprinted in DGJ, May 1974)
Many hundreds of years ago goats found their way up into the mountains of Central Europe and the few who were hardy enough to stand the vigorous climate survived. Just how the original breeds were formed is still open to speculation. According to Monsieur Crepin, the eminent French authority, however, the Alpine was the basic breed while the Toggenburgs and Saanens were but color selections from it.
It is easy to picture the farmers in the Simenthal and Saanen Valleys, districts in Switzerland, which preferred a solid white goat, saving only their white animals and just as easy to picture them purchasing an occasional white doe of merit from a colored herd in the next valley. Through this process color lines were continually added to the breed foundations. It is small wonder, then, that many of our imported does and bucks brought with them this strong genetic factor of color.
Many people have the mistaken idea that the occasional colored kid which is produced by any and all families of the breed are a sign of ‘impure’ breeding. A white color is not a requisite for registration and it seems a shame that off colored kids of excellent breeding have been destroyed at birth.
Ever since 1904, the Saanen has been one of the most popular breeds of dairy goats in America. Some people are attracted by the uniformity of an all white animal, others by their large size, vitality and disease resistance. The largest part of their popularity, however, is due to their milking ability. A total of 169 Advanced Registry records, all those available for the breed, were computed to a ten month, 4 per cent fat basis. On the converted basis, the average production was 1985 lb.. of milk. The actual average butterfat test was 3.5 per cent. This is the highest average production of any breed.
Unfortunately, along with their many good qualities, some individuals and even families show up two major faults. One is ill-shaped udders, the other poor bone structure, the latter often resulting in weak backs and legs.
There were more than ten importation’s between 1904 and 1921. Of some of these, such as DEHAAN’S and RIDDLE’S, there is scarcely a trace left. Others, such as those of PEER, CARTWRIGHT, and DEWYNO left their mark through but a few animals such as ANDREAS HOFER 177, EDELWEISS PRIMA 560 and LAKEVIEW COMMANDER 17290.
The importation’s by Fred Stucker in 1906 served as the real basis for the highest producing Saanens in this country. BELLA 389 was one of these and through her son VICTOR 224, was responsible for much of the early quality in the Highland Herd of Will H.l Miller and the Ettien’s La Suise Herd.
Of Bella’s daughters there were SWISS ECHO 390, mother of WILLIAM TELL 942 (used extensively by the Glahns, in their Supreme Herd); BONNIBELL ECHO 4798, Dr. Rolph’s famous doe; and the great producer and brood doe, PRINCESS ECHO 943, after whom the Spark’s herd was named.
In 1911, Bella was mated to SAANEN CHIEF II 312 and from this mating came EXCELSIOR 597. Excelsior was a runty little fellow that foundered early in life and was at one time traded for a gold ring valued at but $7.00! When his first daughters came into production however, his real worth was realized and his stud fee rose to $50.00.
Four of his daughters, ALBA SUZETTE 2154, HIGHLAND DOLLY 1513, HIGHLAND ELIZABETH 1423 and BLOSSOM of THREE OAKS 2916 had daily records of 16 lb.. or better and ten months yield of between 3100 and 4100 lb.. It is very doubtful that any other Saanen sire carried the pre potency of Excelsior. His fame was also carried down through two sons. SAANEE 1191 was used by Mr. Buhl of the Bonnie Herd as well as by Will H. Miller. The other SAANEN CHIEF of THREE OAKS 2887, served as stud for H.F. Schinker of Three Oaks Herd fame.
BLOSSOM of THREE OAKS 2916, was a smooth graceful doe of good type and excellent bone structure, and she carried a high slung, well attached udder. Under test by the university of California she produced 4005 lb.. Of milk and 138 lb.. Of fat in ten months. To top off her sterling qualities she had 5 does and 4 bucks that did much to spread her fame. The late Dr. L. B. Cary, the West Coast authority on Saanens, considered her Excelsior’s best daughter, and one of the great fountainheads of the breed.
Her most famous daughter was CHARMAINE 34288, who remained in the Three Oaks Herd. Averaging over 16 lb.. of milk all during tests she topped her dam’s record with a yield of 4161 lb.. Milk and 138 lb.. Fat in 240 days. Her record for milk still stands. Another of Blossom’s daughters was CRYSTOBEL 32272 who went into the Midwest where she was known far and wide as a real eight quart doe. Her good qualities were utilized by such breeders as Wikiup, Unterwalden, Purl Skaggs and especially by Buren E. Thomas.
A mating of Blossom with PANAMA PRINZ FRIBOURG 16622 brought forth 2 bucks, LAD 27447 and PRINCE 27448. Prince along with another son CHIEFTAIN 32272, spent most of their illustrious careers at Three Oaks. Lad was sold to the University of California, and later went to the Rio Linda herd owned by the Goodridges. Here he sired a succession of heavy producing does and well known bucks who served as seed stock for the herds of Fetter, Cary, Mesa Linda, Wikiup, Oakdene, and many others of note. Perhaps the best individual in the Stucker importation’s was BONNIE MAY 550. She was a great milker, over 19 lb.. Per day and possessor of what Will H. Miller termed “the biggest barrel I ever saw on a doe.” Mated to Excelsior, she gave birth to HIGHLAND ELIZABETH1423, a doe who milked even better than her dam. Then from a mating with SAANEE 1191 came HIGHLAND EASTER FLORA 2223 who proved to be the equal of both her dam and her sister.
Elizabeth had triplet bucks from a mating with Panama Prinz Fribourg 16622. PANAMA LIONEL 23316 was sold to the Sparks. Here he was much used as their principle stud and did much to establish the fine type and milking abilities for which the Echo Herd was, and is, so justly famous.
The second of these, BONNIE LABAN 23318, together with HIGHLAND EASTER FLORA II 25954 (a daughter of old Flora) went with the Bonnie Herd to Colorado and his influence spread from there throughout the Central States. The third of these triplets, BONNIE LIEWELLYN 23317 went to the Northwest and did much to improve the breed there.
Easter Flora’s best known son, BONNIE IMPERATOR 20000, was used by the Highland Herd. Several of her daughters left their influence on the California hers of W.D. Westover, Dr. W.D. Miller, Grace Abbott and W.T. Sparks. Easter Flora II went to Mr. Coughlan in Denver, Colo.
This blending of the lines of Excelsior with Bonnie may have resulted in the most widely known family in the Saanen breed and certainly one of the very best. Consequently there exist but a few good does today that do not retrace back to it.
In 1913 the Bowmans imported ALTA BRANZ 807, ALTA JAURE 808 and their famous daughter ALTA JOYBELL 809. These three were purchased by the Glahns and served as a cornerstone for the Supreme Herd. Both does were high producers, and they, as well as Franz, did much to popularize the delicately boned, rangy type that added much refinement to the breed. Offspring from these were widely used all over the country in such old time establishments as the Isle, Murgo, Bralif and Fornoff farms as wells by the Three Oaks and Echo Herds. In these last two the bloodlines were combined with those of Excelsior and with admirable results. The Sparks used SUPREME RUBIDOUX FRANZ 4061 to add size and vigor to their Bonnie May strain does.
A son of Franz, HOME ACRES KING WHITE FERN, A.R. SIRE 4 was extensively used by L.B. Blodgtt, and sired some of the greatest milk and show does of all time – Three Oaks Blossom’s Charmaine, Linda Concordia, and Home Acres Alta among them.
At the Bowman importation of 1920 included the ALTA SWITZERLAND 7672, Aare, Meadi, Rigi Kulm group. These were large animals, extremely typy with long deep bodies, graceful heads and necks and very short hair. Most of them were soon moved to California where they heaped additional honors on the Supreme Herd. Again the Three Oaks and Echo Herds were found to be incorporating their good qualities.
About this same time Dr. DeLangle, a man who did much for the goat industry through his writing, brought over a Saanen buck along with his justly famous French Alpines. This was FOSH D.L. 15619. Although he was not used as extensively as he should have been, he left a number of excellent progeny. Many of these were with the Goodridges, and included RIO LINDA BERENE 28829, their foundation doe.
The Darst importation of 1921 included thirty-one animals and made a profound impression on Midwestern stock. These were big goats, vigorous, short haired and remarkably free from color. Some few however, were inclined toward coarseness around the head. Mr. Darst maintained a personal interest in the herd while serving as Secretary of the A.M.G.R.A. for many years and developed his foundation stock with animals such as GIDEON D 26976 and MARYLIN D 34580.
This line of breeding was responsible for such individuals as Paul Fisher’s great show doe and producer, JUST PATSY 36698, Mrs. Tyler’s OSCAR D. 39954, F.D. Steel’s LOVELY’S PANAMA BLOSSOM 39851, the foundation of the Milkyway Herd, and BRIDGETTE MAILMAN 40738. Bridgette was Grand Champion at the Ohio State Fair for several years, and had an Advanced Registry record of 3100 lb.. Of milk
A final arrival who was to add much glory to the breed was PANAMA LOUISE 15363. She was imported by August Bonjean in 1921 but early went to honor the Echo Herd. Students of the breed have considered her a model for conformation and udder development as well as the heaviest producer ever imported. Her dairy milk record of 20.1 lb.. Stood for many years, indeed, until broken by her great granddaughters BONNIE JESS and BONNIE JESSICA. It is interesting to note that at the 1923 Los Angeles Fair the placings in the mature Saanen doe class were: First Panama Louise, second, Highland Easter Flora, and third, Highland Elizabeth. It is doubtful if any three such outstanding animals of any breed have ever been shown in one class since.
Louise had two great sons. One, LOUIS FRANZ of Echo Herd, 22121, sired by Supreme Rubidoux Franz, went to head the La Suise Herd. Here he sired many high producing does, some of which showed color however. This latter was a failing shared by many other great sires including Alta Switzerland, Three Oaks Blossom’s Lad, Andreas Hofer, Victor, Saanee and even old Excelsior himself.
Continued June 1974
Saanen Chief #135 (imported 1905)
Saanen Chief II 312
Saanen Chief III 363
Lizzie May 313 (Stucker import)
Damfino 427 (black)
Sizi (Stucker import)
William Tell 269
Prince (Stucker import)
Victory 366 ( Stucker import)
Panama Prinz Fribourg
Three Oaks Blossom’s Prince
Three Oaks Iris 39932 (Black with white markings)
Fresno Blossom of Three Oaks 37727
Great Caesar (Stucker Import)
Bella 389 (Stucker import)
Victor II 425
Anita #613 (black & white)
Victorine 367 (pedigree as above)
One of Mrs. Swift’s daughters (sire #36691) , Prospect of Roseland 39007 is described as gray
Alta Switzerland 7672
King Swift 14436
Andreas Hofer 177 (1904 import)
Inez Rose Hofer 1752
Victor’s Bell 414
Mrs. Swift 36456 (white with black spots)
Fosh D.L. 15619
Rio Linda Berine 28829
Rio Linda Lassie 25477
Prince ( Stucker import)
William Tell 26
Sizi ( Stucker import)
Afton, Gazelle 274 (white with brown marks on legs, head & back) (littermate Laddie 273 white)
Saanen Chief 135 (1904 import)
Afton, Philipinne 265
Maidie 139 (1904 import)
In this pedigree, all the animals are white except for the ones otherwise noted
Panama Prinz Fribourg 16622
Blossom of Three Oaks 2916
Blossom’s Dairy King 39317
Blossom of Three Oaks 2916
Tennessee Louise (dark) b. 3-15-32
Guthrie’s Prince 41820 (dark)
Blossom’s Dairy King 39317
Oakland Blossom 404288
Rio Linda Royal Lad 35940
Blossom’s Marie 41427
Rio Linda Mavis Marie 35403
In this case there are triplets, two white and one colored
Saanen Chief #135 (imported 1905)
Saanen Chief II 312
Victory 366 (Stucker import)
Saanen Chief III (white buck)
Bonny Boy #319 (white buck)
Silver May #419 (doe, white with black spots)
Lizzie May 313 (import)