If you’ve found this, chances are you’ve made the yaktastic decision to welcome a yak (or yaks) into your life, and may have already spent some time on the phone attempting to learn all there is to know about getting your own yaks. Or maybe you’ve just started down the path of yak life, and are considering what owning a yak would look like. Either way, bringing these amazing creatures home requires a lot of education, preparation, and good old-fashioned research.
“When I first started raising yaks in 2014, I would have done anything to have access to a resource center for yak learning. The knowledge I’ve acquired over the years happened through a lot of hard work, ups and downs, and a hands-on experience raising yaks. I intend to help share my yak knowledge with others and be a guiding resource for my fellow adventure-seekers, homesteaders, ranchers, farmers and yak lovers.”
- Sophia Weiss, Founder & Owner of Firebird Farms
So, You Want A Yak?
Well, actually, you’ll want two yaks. As herd animals, yaks like to be together with their own species. They can exist well alongside other bovines but have the best quality of life when they belong to a herd of their kind. Depending on why you want a yak – whether it be for fiber production, meat, milk, or pets and packing – choosing the right yak for you is important and may rely on a few different factors. Read on for more information on their unique qualities, and our recommendations for the type of yaks for your specific goals.
Yak Phenotypes: What You Need To Know
As a subsistence species, yaks come in a variety of phenotypes. Unlike domestic livestock in North America, yaks in Asia have not historically been bred for any one specific purpose, but instead are a true multi-purpose animal used for centuries to sustain life in the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas. In the US, however, beef cattle (for example) have been bred to mature quickly and produce good carcass yields. Additionally, dairy cows were bred to produce a large quantity of milk. Each type of yak will have its unique qualities for specific purposes.
Yaks are amazing in a lot of ways – but getting the right yak for you depends on why you’re getting them in the first place!
If you are a potential meat producer, you will want large-framed animals with genetics for the productivity of offspring with good growth rates and carcass weights.
If you are a future fiber producer, you will want yaks that have a designated fiber type, quality, and amount of production, depending on your goals.
If you are looking for a milk yak, you will want one with good genetics for milk production and an excellent temperament for raising them to milk.
Yak as Pets and Packing Animals
If you want to work closely with your yaks, they must have temperaments that lend themselves well to working with humans and are enjoyable.
All Purpose Yaks
If you want everything in one yak including a good temperament, size, fiber, and milk production, expect to invest more capital, for this very special animal.
You & Your Yaks
The best results with raising yaks are attained when the right yaks are selected in the first place, and we work hard to match yaks to prospective homes for successful ongoing relationships. Meat and low-interaction herds don’t need to be tame but will be safer and more enjoyable to raise if they have more docile temperaments. Depending on your needs and goals with yaks, these are important considerations when purchasing stock. Yaks are unique in many ways and can vary greatly. It’s imperative to understand what you like, your needs, and what you are looking for in your future yaks.
Have more questions? Feel free to contact us.
YAK LEARNING CENTER - COMING SOON
We are in the process of launching an all-access educational resource center for all things yak-related - coming soon. Stay tuned for our yak learning center debut. Follow along with our herd on Instagram at @firebirdfarms and Facebook at facebook.com/firebirdfarms.