Yaks Farming Knowledge For A Beginner

Yaks Farming Knowledge For A Beginner

Yaks are categorized under the nomenclature species which has wild and domestic forms of yaks. They have different names they are classified by which are; Bos in Latin is ox, grunniens is grunting, and mutus is mute (a poor description because wild yaks are quite noisy). Along with yak), other common names include drong, brong-dong (wild), ya (domestic male), dri (domestic female), pegu (tame), banchour, kuch-gau, boku (old male), and kotass.

Descriptive Features Of Yaks

• A domestic yak (Bos grunniens) weight varies on the gender – male is 770 -1,300 pounds (349 – 590 kg) and female is 500 -560 pounds (227 – 254 kg). These yaks can be somewhat smaller in structure.

• Wild yak (Bos mutus) are treated as different specie as the domestic yak. They are considered to be largest extant of bovid species wit adults standing about 1.6 – 2.05 metres (5.2 – 6.7 feet) tall from the shoulder. With a weight of 500 – 1,200 kg (1,100 – 2,600 pounds). The head and body length is 2.4 – 3.8 metres (7.9 – 12 feet) excluding the tail which is about 60 – 100 centimetres (24 – 39 inches).the females are about a third of the male’s description and 30 percent smaller.

Both yaks description are heavy built animals with a bulky frame, sturdy legs and rounded cloven hooves. The tail is long and horse-like and they exude black or brown coat which covers most of the body with a grey muzzle which may sometimes be golden-brown in some yaks.


Adaptations for heat conservation include a compact body, despite a large mass, with relatively short legs, neck, and ears and a low surface to-volume ratio; thick pelage particularly on neck, back, and rump; pelage and skin pigmentation always dark in the wild yak to minimize effects of intense solar radiation but maximize heat absorption; thick unwrinkled skin with non functional apocrine sweat glands, except on the muzzle, but with highly developed piloerection muscles; and a thick, but seasonal, subcutaneous fat layer.

Adaptations to the cold are so developed that even the domestic yak shows signs of heat exhaustion when ambient temperatures exceeding 13 degrees Celsius; heart rate and respiration increase and most activity ceases when ambient temperatures approach 20 degrees Celsius. Wild yaks maximize heat through dissipation and minimize heat production by seeking the coldest spots and shade, bedding in snow, and standing in icy water even during inclement weather.

Ecology And Forage

Since yaks are commonly found in alpine tundra where there is relatively a thick carpet of grasses and sedges. Though wild yaks are thought to be extinct regionally but they were rediscovered in Humla in 2014. Yaks also eat a smaller amount of herbs, winter fat shrubs and mosses, and are reported to be lichen eaters too.

Yaks are so smart and their may exhibit a mule’s behaviour which can present challenges. And the fact that they eat one third of what cattle eat, so they thrive in smaller parcels of grasslands.

Breeding And Gestation

Both wild and domestic yaks are seasonal breeders and physical changes of female domestic yaks in oestrus include swollen vulva, vaginal redness, mucus discharge, raised tail, and frequent urination.
Yaks gestation period takes about 257 – 270 days. The majority of females breed for the 1st time at 3–4 years of age, but this, and annual timing of oestrus, varies depending on climate, latitude, elevation, and availability of nutritious forage.

Peak productivity of female domestic yaks occurs at 5–6 years old and declines after 9 years of age. How To Raise Yaks. Domestic yaks generally produce a calf every other year, or longer which parallels observation of wild yaks. They mate in summer (which is in September – October) and give birth to a single calf in the next spring.


Brief Facts About Yaks

– Transhumant Yak system requires animals to be confined to high altitude areas.

– Yak farming integrated to farming which provides draught energy and manure. Their ability to survive in harsh conditions and the peoples’ ability to derive sustenance from it are classic examples of adaptation by both the animals and the human beings.

– Yaks are reared in 10 out of 20 districts in northern belt of the country (Bhutan).

– Yak population is increasing steadily but herding households are rapidly decreasing.

– Allocation of grazing area and range management are major constraints for yaks.

– Landscape and biodiversity conservation means there is prevention of bush encroachment, maintaining species diversity through grazing and trampling.

– Water resources preservation – are high altitude meadows source of important water heads for principal river systems.

– Herder’s presence supplements national security and stability.

– Yaks are good for ploughing labour.

– Yaks have an established relationship with humans especially the pastorals; however, they may be dangerous if not domesticated properly. When they feel threatened they will swing their massive horns like a baseball bat and attack.

– Being part of the bovidae family, they are also prone to diseases and parasites attacks just like cattle and water buffalo. Habitation in high altitudes helps because of their thick coat and vulnerability to diseases.

– Yaks may also be referred to as ‘hairy cattle’.

– Their habitation in high plateaus is due to respiratory problems they have when in low altitude places. Their lungs are large and need to absorb more oxygen hence they habit in high altitudes.

– Although the animals are “protected”, illegal hunting still represents a major problem to their survival. Wild yak are larger in size than the domestic ones because the two types readily interbreed, there is interest in the use of wild yak to improve the performance of the domestic type.

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