Facts On Yak

Wholesome Milk, Great cheese, tasty meat, and Stunning Fiber

The first yaks were brought to the U.S. in the late 19th century. Today, Colorado boasts the highest population of yaks in the nation, with 78 breeders at last count, according to the International Yak Association (IYAK). The environment is ideal since yaks thrive in cool, high-altitude climates; their thick hides offer protection from the extreme cold of the Himalaya and they’re adept at foraging for food beneath the snow. They also require about one third to one half less feed than beef cattle. To learn more, visit IYak.org.

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Himalayan Yak Milk & Butter: How To

#1 Lesson in Understanding Tibetan Culture: Making traditional yak butter tea.

Yak Milk, contrary to the Trivial Pursuit game, is not pink but yak butter's legendary status is well deserved. Yak butter tea is the comfort food of the Himalayas with native herders drinking as many as 40 cups a day.  Yak milk is rich in butterfat at around 6% to 11% making it perfect for yogurt, butter, and cheese. Yaks evolved under harsh mountain conditions and are well adapted for winter. Their bags and teats are small, compact and close to the body so they don't freeze. In Tibet yaks are primarily considered dairy animals. Yak butter tea made from fresh butter is quite good, although very rich.

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They Ate What? Hardware Disease

Funny maybe, but No Laughing Matter

Vets see a wide variety of odd things that pets and livestock ingest: shoes, coins, socks, teddy bears, watches, rubber ducks, rocks, lightbulbs, kitchen utensils, pendants, golf balls, and more. “They Ate What?” has become a very popular contest by Veterinary Practice News and as they say: “and after all, who doesn’t love looking at crazy x-rays?”

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HealthNicole Porter-Salvato
A globally important wild yak Bos mutus population in the Arjinshan Nature Reserve, Xinjiang, China


Wild Yak are IUCN Red Listed and Class 1 in China

The wild yak Bos mutus is one of the most charismatic members of the Tibet/Qinghai Plateau fauna, and 19th century explorers to the plateau described vast herds. Overhunting, in particular, has greatly reduced wild yak populations and forced them into remote areas. The species is categorized as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and as a Class 1 protected animal

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Lessons Learned from the Cold Springs Fire

A police escort for a Bull named “Popeau”, and the calf named “Fire”

Like any Saturday morning during calving season, I was tending to my herd of Tibetan Yaks to see if I had any new calves on the ground. We had a healthy large female born 6 weeks prior, very near the expected birthdate, and I was baffled that the other two cows still had not delivered nearly two cycles later. After a few hours outside, I walked back up to the house for lunch and noticed that the clouds behind the mountain where our house sits, looked as if the sun were setting. I went inside and asked my wife to come see the horizon. We walked out on the deck and that is when I realized it was a column of smoke!

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HealthPhillip Reschke
Ruminant Health, Vitamin, Minerals & Nutrition

Originally Presented by Marty Ulrich, 2015

Ruminants require a number of minerals for optimal growth and reproduction. Selecting the correct mineral supplement is important for maintaining healthy animals, and optimal growth and reproduction. Minerals not provided by feed can easily and inexpensively supplied with a simple mineral supplement. The rumen is the largest compartment on the mature ruminant. The abomasum is the largest on the immature ruminant,

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Wild Fiber: Tips and Tales

This year, Brad and Jandy Sprouse celebrate 33 years of raising and breeding livestock as their sole occupation and chosen lifestyle on Great Lakes Ranch in northwestern Michigan.

The ranch is the manifestation of their dream to raise livestock in a peaceful, rural setting. Their tale begins in 1981 when the Sprouse's purchased their first llama, and three years later they brought home their first alpaca. 

But that was just the beginning.

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FiberNicole Porter
Color Inheritance in North American Yaks

Three colors are recognized in North American yaks: Native Black, Imperial and Golden. Native Blacks are black hided animals with a grey or brown muzzle. Some individuals will show a grey or grizzly dorsal stripe. Native Blacks vary from a near dark black to brownish.

Frequently coal black at birth, Imperials are black with a shiny black nose. As they develop, this color often takes on a reddish cast from sun exposure, however most persist with a coal black color into adulthood. These latter Imperials tend to have a glossy coat. The reddish cast may be

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Introducing Yak, the Other Red Meat

Heart Healthy Red Meat? Cool.

You may have heard yak talk before. In the low-cholesterol rage of the ’80s and ’90s, yaks dotted exotic game ranches west of the Mississippi and appeared alongside bison on “heart-healthy” burger menus. The yak’s big breakout moment happened at Denver’s National Western Stock Show in the late ’90s, when its reputation as an easy, more docile alternative to bison spread like prairie brush fire... Now, business is booming again.

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Are yaks good mothers?
Adult cows normally make good mothers, however; first time mothers need to be watched for the first week or so after the calf is born. Yaks with young calves can be aggressive.


There are several different treats than can be offered: Horse cookies, Nutrena Senior grain, or cattle cakes. Even pumpkins, cucumbers and apples if you cut them up. Your yak will often choose their favorite.

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Yaks are Back. Yaks are Black.

Originally Posted by the Wildlife Conservation Society, January, 2013, as “Yaks are back: Conservationists find nearly 1,000 wild yaks in remote Tibetan Plateau” in PsyOrg.

Wild yaks cross the Tibetan Plateau near the edge of a glacier. A scientific team recently counted more than a thousand wild yaks in this region signaling a possible comeback for this species once decimated by over-hunting. Credit: Joel Berger -- WCS/University of Montana

A team of American and Chinese conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Montana recently counted nearly 1,000 wild yaks from a remote area of the Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau. The finding may indicate a comeback for this species, which was decimated by overhunting in the mid 20th century.

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HealthJoe Walston
The Yak Genome and Adaptation to Life at High Altitude

Originally Posted in Nature Genetics by Qiang Qiu et al (2012)

Domestic yaks (Bos grunniens) provide meat and other necessities for Tibetans living at high altitude on the Qinghai- Tibetan Plateau and in adjacent regions. Comparison between yak and the closely related low-altitude cattle (Bos taurus) is informative in studying animal adaptation to high altitude. Here, we present the draft genome sequence of a female domestic yak generated using Illumina-based technology at 65-fold coverage. Genomic comparisons between yak and cattle identify an expansion in yak of gene families related to sensory perception and energy metabolism, as well as an enrichment of protein domains involved in sensing the extracellular environment and hypoxic stress.

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Qiang Qui