Why do golden yaks produce so much more fiber?
~ Estes Park Wool Market Attendee
Recently we have been getting a good deal of questions about what determines value in yaks. I would have to say the number one thing to avoid is exaggerated claims. Yaks are multi purpose bovines that can be used for fiber production, dairy, packing, and meat. They are not optimized in any area as with the more familiar cattle breeds. I would guess that the Wool Market attendee quoted above had spoken with, or read something by, someone interested in selling golden yaks at premium prices. Spending a fair amount of my youth in Missouri, I would have said, “Show Me”. Is there statistical data? Hair Follicle Density Studies? Any sort of proof? In any case claims like “most”, “best”, “highest this or lowest that” or “healthiest” are red flags for me.
In my opinion there are some key things to look for in yaks:
Talk to more than one breeder about your needs. Talk to the breeder’s past customers. Ask for breeding histories. Look at a lot of yaks! Handle a lot of yaks.
Yaks are new to most people and even to most people who own them. There is a lot of room for various opinions about what makes a great yak and very little substantiated data. You won’t find many yak breeders providing EPDs for yaks so homework is key. IYAK is a great source for information about yaks and and yak breeders. IYAK is in the process of completing a meat study that should go a long way in providing some relevant data. Stay tuned……..