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Yaks are pleasing to look at and own. Their large handlebar horns, water buffalo look alike shoulders, horse-like tail, and an extended hairy skirt mixed with their unique docile tendencies make for an exotic appearance you can enjoy observing for hours.
Yak infants are agile, athletic, lively, and leap and run like excited horses with their tails held high over their backs. Yaks are not loud livestock. They connect in quiet grunts, snorts and head shakes. Yaks are extremely intelligent, curious, independent, serene, mellow, and very quiet animals that make them an honour to keep.
Because of their unique heritage of thriving in high mountainous regions with high temperature extreme conditions they can be extremely hardy and suitable for environments that are traditionally considered inhospitable to animals. They love the cold, dry conditions and require no special shelter or diets.
Yak calves, cattle and steers easily become halter trained, and do make great pets or 4H project animals. They are an outstanding choice for packing plus trekking purposes. An adult animal can pack tremendous weight through rough tremendous mountain terrain more surefooted than horses or mules. Not really needing shoes, they are trail friendly and need little more than browsing along the way. They also can be confined with horses and put together for a unique pack string.
These animals are naturally very hardy and disease resilient. Their great wooly coating includes an outer guard hair plus a fine inner hair called down. The down provides efficiency against the cold winter time. Each spring as the weather warms, the yak start naturally shedding their dainty undercoat. Yak farmers help this along by brushing out their yaks and getting the down. It is then washed and prepared the same as the fiber from sheep and other fiber animals.
An old yak produces around one pound of down per year. Yak fiber is very soft and luxurious. It is close to Qiviut (musk ox down) and comes anywhere close in softness and warmth to Cashmere. Yak fiber is not slippery and can be easily spun. The micron count of yak is 15-18. It has a short staple 1/2? – 2? with an irregular crimp. This is great for woven and knitted garments, also; yak down is a nice fiber when felt.
Most uniquely is the flavor and benefit of yak meat which is simply possibly the healthiest and juicy tasting meat on the market. Yak meat uses 96% lean red meat and rates extremely low in the “bad” Palmitic acid plus saturated fats linked with heart problems and high cholesterol.
It is also very high in proteins and iron, and the “good” oleic acids and poly-unsaturated fats. It has a delightful and delicate beef flavor which is never gamey or greasy and is even less in fat than salmon. Testing has proven that 9 out of ten folks will prefer yak meat over beef, bison or elk.