Genetics & Herd Planning – Firebird Farms

Genetics & Herd Planning

The genetic pool of yaks in the US is very small. When choosing your first yaks, it's important to think about this a little if you are planning on breeding your stock. The main thing to think about is your strategy for your operation, and to know enough about genetics to help the species rather than breed inferior animals or accidentally create inbred stock. So, you’ve chosen your lovely cows and you need a bull. But then what? Do you keep his daughters? What do you do with him? These are very common considerations for small farms. Here are some things we go over with new yak customers to get the ideas going about how to design your herd and program.

Do you want to keep a bull?

There are a few key differences to raising yaks with a bull in the herd. Hormones, safety, breeding season, herd separation and offspring planning are all part of it. Read more HERE about bulls.

Do you love him and want to keep him for many years?

Bulls are a dime a dozen, but a good bull is solid gold. Some people absolutely love their bulls and can’t imagine their herds without him. For small farms that can only keep one bull, it is then necessary to have a plan for what happens with the female offspring, and be able to manage those decisions as action items occur throughout the year. Read more HERE for managing herds.

Do you want to raise yaks for meat and butcher the female offspring?

Some folks want to raise exclusively a meat herd, don’t want to deal with marketing and selling calves, and see value in all animals for meat. In theory, this makes it easier to keep one bull for years without worrying about inbred offspring. However, in reality there are often issues. Someone in the family falls in love with a cute little heifer and wants to keep her. Daughters may accidentally be bred by their sire. Additionally, females do not have good hanging weights compared to males, and it can be more cost effective to sell them rather than butcher. Do you not want a bull but may want to breed your cows in the future? Do you want to market the offspring as tame yaks or breeding stock? Do you not want to deal with marketing offspring, but don’t want the females? Some folks just make sure to sell all the female offspring. Some rotate their bulls regularly. Some choose to not keep a bull and find other ways. Read more on breeding HERE.

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