Raising Yaks - Yaks require a third of the forage cattle require.. This makes the yak ideal for the small farmer or anyone interested in raising livestock in a sustainable or permaculture environment. Yaks are pasture animals and are suited for rotational pasture grazing systems. They will feed on weeds left behind by other grazers. Their small hoofprint aerates the pasture.
Yaks produce meat, milk, fiber, hides and skulls. We use every part of the animal except for the milk. Meat is our main focus. We also raise yaks for breeding stock and to sell as herds and pets to other ranchers. A long term ongoing project is in the works to produce mini yaks for the backyard farmer. Our first small sized baby was born in 2010 and promises to be small, purebred, non-dwarf yak.
Yak meat is mild in flavor, similar to beef with a cleaner finish on the palate. The nutrition is similar to it's distant cousin - the American Bison. Yak meat is a dark red in color and cooks faster than beef. Yak meat is prized for its many health benefits. Because it is not readily available in the mainstream marketplace, yak meat commands a premium price. We sell our meat in all the same cuts as beef. Grass fed pasture raised meat is in high demand as the health conscious consumer is less willing to trade away their health for cheap, industrial produced meat.
For the exotic species aficionado the yak is one of the most unique breeds in the US. They are very easy to handle and can be tamed. Their fencing requirements is the same as cattle. Yaks typically do not test fences.
Yaks are very protective of their offspring. In their native Tibet, the wolf is the only natural enemy. At our ranch the yaks protect the herd from coyotes. They also consider our herd dogs to be wolves.
Yaks are full grown at 8 years. A yak cow will weigh in at 600 to 800 pounds. Our royal cows tend to tip the scales at the higher end of the range. A yak bull will grow to as much as 1800 pounds, the average bull weighs in at 1200 to 1400 pounds. A bull is ready to breed at 3 to 3½ years and a heifer will throw her first calf at 2½ years. Gestation is 8½ months. Calving is very easy and quick, no assistance from humans is required! Calves are tiny, usually around 20 to 30 pounds. For meat purposes a bull is ready for processing at 3 to 3½.
For meat production purposes - a yak will yield about 37% of its weight in boneless meat. An animal hangs at about 50 to 52 % of live weight. So a 1,000 pound yak will hang at 500 lbs and yield 375 pounds of meat.
Crossbreeding - a yak will crossbreed with its distant relatives - the American Bison and cattle. Crossbreeding with cattle will allow you to bring it to market faster. At this time all our yaks are pure yaks. For successful crossbreeding a yak bull would need to be raise from the calf stage with cattle. This same bull will also still breed yaks.