Sables and Saanens--revisited

Discussion in 'Dairy Goat Info' started by rosawoodsii, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. rosawoodsii

    rosawoodsii New Member

    I've read many old posts on Sables and wanted to throw in some thoughts. I'm the new Vice President of the International Sable Breeders Association (ISBA), so I'm heavily involved in the issue of registration, herdbooks, genetics, etc.

    The reason Sables have a separate herdbook is because several Saanen breeders absolutely did not want color in the Saanen herdbook. They either are not familiar with Saanen history or don't care. The original importations contained colored Saanens, and they were there deliberately because at the time it was thought the white was a form of albinism. Some of the best milking lines and most famous does and bucks were either colored or produced color. Since they didn't meet breed standards, they were registered with a color designation but could not be shown. Many Saanen breeders, realizing that eliminating these lines would limit the gene pool and get rid of some of the best milking lines, just lived with the color when it appeared. Others were not as clear-sighted. In the 1950's, a vocal group of Saanen breeders decided that color should not be allowed in the herdbook, ever, even though it had been there since the original importations in the early 1900's. That left Sable Saanens with nowhere to go, so they were put in the Experimental or Grade books.

    The thing to remember is that this is all POLITICAL. It has nothing whatsoever to do with genetics. Saanens and Sables are the same breed, but Sables do not meet the existing breed standard. A new herdbook was finally accepted in 2003 because, once again, a small but vocal group of Saanen breeders did not want a color designation.

    When the proposal for a new herdbook was accepted, it clearly stated that since Sables are colored Saanens and contain the same genetics, colored Saanens would automatically be recorded in the Sable herdbook, thus ensuring that Sables would have continual replenishment of vital genetic material. The proposal also stated that this migration from Saanen to Sable would be permanent.

    White kids born to Sable parents are labeled Experimental (doesn't make any sense to me, either) because Saanen breeders (some of them, anyway) don't want the occasional colored kid popping up, and some are trying very hard to eliminate color altogether. Frankly, that's probably an impossibility, since color has always been there (even in Switzerland) and it's pretty hard to get it out. I mean, all Swiss breeds started out with color.

    The chances of a Saanen/Sable cross having white babies is very high, because white is dominant, and unless you have two color carriers, you'll get white. The kids, however, will be color carriers.

    I have one PB Saanen doe that always delivers color when bred to color. Another always delivers white. She just doesn't carry a color gene, apparently.

    A true Sable bred to a true Sable (i.e. two colored Saanens with the color gene) will always breed true. If a white kid pops up, most likely one of those Sables is just a dark cream colored Saanen, because white is dominant. We are currently working with two geneticists to determine just what makes a Sable, i.e. does a dorsal stripe indicate a color carrier? Eye spots? How dark a cream is an indication of a color carrier?

    Saanen x Saanen: colored kid is Sable, white kid is Saanen
    Sable x Sable colored kid is Sable.
    Sable x Saanen colored kid is Sable, white kid is Experimental.

    Again, this is political. They're all Saanens!

    Because of the efforts of another small but vocal group of Saanen breeders (a total of 3 out of over 1000), the migration that was agreed to be permanent has been stopped as of 2015. We are working to change that. It's not yet a done deal. Colored Saanens are not Experimentals, they are Sable Saanens (or just Sables, if you will). I would have preferred to see a color designation in the Saanen herdbook, but that is not to be. If Sables must have a separate herdbook, then the migration must continue for the breed to be viable, otherwise we'll have infusions of Alpine, Toggenburg, etc., and lose the Saanen characteristics that we so value. At the moment, we can "breed up" through 6 generations to Purebred status. Not sure I like that. Purebred should not have anything except Saanen in order to conform to the originally declared breed standard (colored Saanen) agreed upon in --1981, I think.

    Anyway, after reading all the Sable/Saanen threads from a year or two ago, there's are my thoughts and replies.
  2. COgoatLover25

    COgoatLover25 New Member

    I don't even raise Saanen or Sables and that was a very interesting read! :D

    Home to Reg. Nubians, Reg. Nigerians and Reg. meat goats

  3. dragonlair

    dragonlair Active Member

    I love Sables as I like color. I think what happened to the Sables is a shame, and I was very vocal about it in letters to our district rep and the registry. I don't have Saanens or Sables, but some of my Lamancha's are of Saanen bloodlines and I had a very nice herd of Saanens 30 years ago.

    Thank you for posting!
  4. rosawoodsii

    rosawoodsii New Member

    What's really sad is the change was made by a total of THREE Saanen breeders out of over 1000, who responded to a survey sent out by the NSBA, which consists of about 80 breeders out of that number. It was spearheaded by a breeder of American Saanens who didn't want the C designation in any of her goats' pedigrees. As an acting ADGA director, she brought it to the Board of Directors, did not give them the full story, and pushed it through.

    But, as I said, it hasn't happened yet. We're still working to turn it around. The original accepted proposal for a Sable herdbook said migration would be permanent. This was passed by an overwhelming majority of ADGA directors in 2003. The current directors need to be reminded of this. In effect, they have changed the breed standard without any input from the breeders.
  5. hsmomof4

    hsmomof4 New Member

    It's too bad it's such a mess. I hate politics. :(
  6. rosawoodsii

    rosawoodsii New Member

    I agree. I tend to get involved with political actions, but only because it has to be done. I hate that people make it necessary by bringing politics into things like hair color or genetics.