What Do Yaks Eat? Interesting Yak Information

wild yak | yak

Yaks belong to the Bovini tribe, which also includes cattle, buffalo’s, and bison. Yaks are the only mammals that live at the highest altitude. Yaks are the healthy cattle with a bulky body, short and thick legs, small ears, and broad forehead. Both male and female yaks have horns, the horns of a male yak are stretched out from his head side and curved forward, whereas the horns of a female are smaller and vertical in shape. There are two different species of yaks- wild yaks and domestic yaks.

Scientific Name of Yak:

Bos Grunnies is the scientific name of a yak.

What do Yaks Eat?

Yaks are herbivorous mammals; they feed on grasses, mosses, lichens, wildflowers, and herbs.

Yak Species:

There are two different species of yak-

  1. Domestic yak 
  2. Wild yak

Domestic yak:

The population of the domestic yak is around 12 million in the central Asian mountains. Domestic yaks are generally white, grey, or brown and have patches of cream and rusty brown. Thousands of years ago, humans kept and domesticated these species for their meat, milk, and fiber. Domestic male yak can weigh between 772 to 1290 pounds, whereas the females can weigh to 496 to 562 pounds. The length of these species ranges from 19 to 39 inches. The horns of a female domestic yak are smaller than that of a male domestic yak. Both have a short neck with a distinct hump over the shoulders, which is more visible in the male yak.

Wild Yak:

The population of wild yaks is declining, only 10,000 survive in the world. Wild yaks are slightly larger than domestic yaks. Wild yaks are solid black with rust-brown patches. The horns of a male wild yak average to 16.8 inches, whereas the length in females ranges to 12.7 inches. Wild yaks have thick coats that help them to conserve heat; the hump of a wild yak is behind his neck. The average weight of a wild yak is between 660 to 2200 pounds; however, females are about one-third of that of a male.

Yak Facts:

  • Yaks have two layers of coats, the outer layer has long hairs, and is waterproof; on the other hand, the inner layer consists of short and dense fur that absorbs warm air.
  • Yaks are well suited for colder regions but cannot tolerate the heat below -40 degrees Celsius.
  • The dung of a yak is used as fuel, and the only fuel available in the Tibetan plateau where there are no trees.
  • Though wild yaks have poor eyesight, they have a strong sense of smell and hearing capacity; they can respond to the sound, which is several kilometers away.
  • Domestic yaks do not produce the typical sound “moo” like other cattle’s they only snort.
  • In some regions, Yaks are used as a sports or entertainment purpose in yak racing and yak polo.
  • Male yaks are solitary, although sometimes they travel with the herd. The herds of yaks comprise of 10-20 individuals that involve only female and young yaks.
  • During snowstorms, the yaks protect themselves by cuddling together, keeping the young ones in between.
  • The mating between the yaks takes place between July and September, and the incubation lasts between 257-270 days.
  • Usually, female yak gives birth to a single calf; after the ten minutes of delivery, the calf can walk. The calves are detached at about one year of age. 

Wild Yak Endangered:

The common Threat to the wild yak is a market and casual hunt; another threat to the wild yak is crossbreeding with the domesticated yaks. Wild yaks are poached for their meat, horns, fibers, and other materials. Male yak is an easy target to hunt as they roam in the open area. The zoo of china is the only in the world that has a wild yak. The red list of IUCN states it as a vulnerable species.

Where Do Yaks Live:

The wild Yaks are found in the Himalaya region of south-central Asia.