Yak Information

  • Yaks are ‘easy keepers’. They require no special fencing needs. Your standard 4-wire barbed wire fence is sufficient. They are cold hardy and disease resistant. Birthing comes easily as the calves are relatively small at around 35 lbs. Although yaks do not do as well in extremely hot and humid climates, they are fine at normal ‘summer’ conditions when shade trees and fresh water are available. The stocking rate of yaks is greater that of commercial cattle.  A yak eats about 1/3 the amount of hay that a commercial cow eats. Yaks do not need a finishing ration, thus you can eliminate grain, hormones and steroids. A good mineral block is essential, however, along with free choice freshwater.
  • Adult yak cows range in weight from 600-800 pounds and stand 4.5 feet at the shoulders, while yak bulls range from 1200-1500 pounds and stand 5.5 feet at the shoulders. Full size is achieved in 6-8 years. Yak heifers conceive at two years of age and calve at three years of age. Gestation is 8.5 months. Yak bulls are considered breeders at 3 years of age but are known to breed before that age. Yaks live to be 20-25 years of age. Yak bulls must be raised with cattle if they are going to be used for crossbreeding purposes. But what are they good for?
  • Yaks can fill the market niche of every cattleman, small acreage owner or exotic breeder. They provide a source of breeding stock, crossbreeding stock, meat, fiber, milk and dairy products, hides, horns, and make excellent pack or show animals.
  • Yak meat has a delicious and delicate beef like flavor. It is very low in fat as the fat layer is put down on the outside of the carcass and is easily trimmed off. It is deep red in color, high in protein, and low in calories, saturated fats, cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Yak fiber is comparable to cashmere or angora. It is the downy undercoat that sheds off during the spring and can be combed out, collected and processed. The courser outer hair or ‘guard hair’ can be used to weave ropes and belts.
  • Yak hides and horns are another untapped market. As ‘The Wild West’ continues to draw the imagination of artists and decorators, these natural products will be in demand.
  • For those who are interested in packing and trekking, yak cows and steers can easily be trained and utilized. Taming is best started at birth and training begins after weaning as the animal grows. By two years of age, a yak can begin to pack up to 150 pounds and walk trails where horses should not go. They are sure footed and trail friendly, needing little more than browsing along the way.
The above is courtesy of Bob Hasse and the International Yak Association

Responses

  1. Can you recommend a source for metal combs to use to dehair the yaks?

    • They can be found at most mail order farm/ranch mail order supply com

  2. Where is your Yak Ranch located in Alaska? Going to be in Girdwood and thought about fun stuff to do with the grandkids.

    • Hi
      We are located 48 miles south of Glennallen. Glennallen is northeast of Anchorage, 188 miles on the Glenn Highway.


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