Tibetan Yak, a multi-purpose animal in the United States, provide numerous opportunities in line with the growing movement of sustainable, renewable and the ecological production of livestock. Here at Great Lakes Ranch, we have been raising Tibetan Yak since 1992.
Tibetan Yak are natives of the Himalayan mountains and were domesticated by the Qiang people of Tibet over 10,000 years ago. Known as “Bos Grunniens”, a member of the bovine family, Yak are commonly known as the “grunting ox”. Yak in Tibet provided food, transportation, fuel and fiber to the herding societies in the mountainous Himalyan region. Cows average between 600-800 pounds and stand about 4 1/2 feet tall, and bulls average about 1200-1500 pounds but can reach up to as much as 1600 pounds and stand 6 1/2 feet tall. They have a hump and horse-like tails that they bend over their backs when they run. Yak are adapted to the lower oxygen levels of high altitudes by having larger chest cavities, lungs and a much larger heart relative to their body size. They survive cold winter climates due to an accumulation of subcutaneous fat that they build that helps them to conserve heat.
Representative of the multi-purpose marketing opportunities for Tibetan Yak are:
Meat production: Deep red in color with almost no marbling, 1/6th of the fat content of beef, Yak meat is both uniquely tender, flavorful, higher in protein and omega 3 oils, much lower in saturated fat, cholesterol, triglycerides and calories than beef, with no additives, growth hormones, steroids, artificial colors or flavors and is all natural and grass-fed. Yak meat offers significant profit margins realized in sales to discriminating gourmands, health conscious consumers and those who are interested in an all natural grass-fed, environmentally friendly livestock product.
Wool: The soft underhair is cashmere-like and sells for up to $16 an ounce when spun. The outer wool can be used for clothing, rugs, rope and bags.
Milk: Creamy in color with a fat content of 5-7 percent, Yak milk can be processed into butter, cheese or yogurt with an average cow producing 110 kg and a lactation period of an average of 5 months.
Pack animals: Quiet, gentle and easily trained, Yak can carry as much as a horse or the equivalent of 150 pounds of load, walk trails that are too rough for horses and need no additional food other than browsing. Their split hoof makes them easy on trails and environmentally compatible. Quiet at night and easily tethered, they make the perfect pack animal for outfitters.
Intelligent animals, smaller than cattle, Yak require less pasture and are more “user friendly” on the land. They are efficient food-conserving animals that eat about 1/3 of the amount of forage that a commercial cow eats, needing no supplemental feed. A mature Yak can thrive on as little as 6 pounds of grass a day, and 3-4 Yak cows can graze the same acreage as 1 commercial beef cow. In addition, they can be halter broken, trained to show, pack, trailer and be groomed. They are disease resistant, cold climate hardy, good for both high and low elevation, do not get brisket disease, are easy birthers and extremely maternal and protective with their young. Besides being much smaller and more efficient than traditional cattle, they are docile, intelligent and even tempered. No special fencing is necessary other than what standard cattle facilities require. An added bonus is that they are classified as an “exotic bovine”, which means they require no special permits, licenses or brand inspections.
With a population of only 2000 Yak in existence in the United States, Yak represent a unique, if not rare opportunity for investment with all the tax advantages offered in running a livestock operation with the added benefits of multiple marketing strategies for sales. Whether in it for meat, dairy, outfitter packing operations, wool production, show or just for fun, these unique and interesting animals are sure to provide any interested person or investor with a wonderful lifestyle opportunity.
At Great Lakes Ranch, our program is focused on genetic selection and good husbandry. Our goals are to produce elite Yak, with an emphasis on ultra wooly black and trim Imperials. All of our Yak are registered with IYAK, the official Yak registry of the United States. Give us a call if you are looking for elite, show quality Yak, grass-fed, healthy meat animals, or just some Yak for “plain ole fun”. Give us a call and make your plans to come visit us in beautiful Leelanau county and “yak” about Yak with us. We look forward to hearing from you!