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Yak Facts

Here are our favourite facts about yaks

  • Over 90% of the world's yak population of nearly 15 million lives on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalayas.

  • Lamps in Tibetan monasteries are fuelled by yak butter.
- Yak cheese has higher amounts of heart-healthy fats than cheese from dairy cattle.

  • Yak polo, played on yaks instead of horses, was pioneered in Mongolia a decade ago.

  • The first yakalo, a cross between a yak and an American bison, was produced through selective breeding in Alberta, Canada in 2000.
  • A major use for the yak’s coarse tail hair is to create fake beards worn by actors in Chinese opera.
  • In local communities, yak bone is often made into exquisite handicrafts, including combs, buttons and ornaments.
  • The only natural predator of the wild yak is the Tibetan wolf.
  • In Mongolia yak milk is fermented in a leather pouch and distilled as a "milk wine" called archi.
  • In winter a wild yak can survive temperatures as low as - 40 degrees (C).
  • A wild yak doesn’t reach full size until six to eight years of age.
  • Amongst yaks living in the wild, births usually occur in June and a single calf is born every other year.
  • Dried yak dung is used as fuel on the treeless Tibetan plateau.
  • The male wild yak can reach up to 6.5 feet high at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 2,200 pounds. Wild female yaks are up to a third of the male’s size. Domestic male yaks are much smaller in size and weigh up to 1,300 pounds while domestic female yaks weigh up to 560 pounds.
  • Even in the below-freezing winters, yaks have been spotted bathing in lakes and rivers. This is because yak’s warm coat provides insulation through a thick outer coating of long hair and a dense inner coating of matted, shorter fur.
  • It is believed that the strength of yak wool comes from the high levels of amino acids contained within the fibres.
  • Yak wool is very resistant to static electricity meaning garments a less likely to spark or cling to the body during dry conditions.