Yaks Add Farm Diversification

Final report for OS22-157

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2022: $19,979.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Grant Recipient: University of Kentucky
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler
University of Kentucky
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Project Information


Due to the limited information available in the United States and more specifically the Appalachian region of the southeastern U.S. on raising yaks (Bos grunniens), we are proposing this on-farm project to investigate the performance of yaks within forage-based systems.

  • Develop on-farm data collection records for yaks

Other livestock species have developed resources for measuring animal production.   To develop educational resources for yaks, production information in the Southeast and United States, in general, is needed. There is a lack of information available on breeding intervals, age at puberty, fiber yield, performance on various forage species, and other general management information.  We intend to develop on-farm data collection protocols to aid in collecting key information to help develop educational resources for sustainable forage-based yak production systems.  We will start by using resources available for other livestock species to develop the framework for a basic production record system.  Working with our collaborating farms, production information will be collected and interpreted to begin to develop a strategy for management changes to reach their production goals.

  • Evaluate seasonal growth patterns of yaks raised in the southeast

To better understand the potential for yak production in the southeast, we need to better understand their growth potential.  We propose to evaluate the growth of yaks during the grazing and hay feeding periods to determine the growth patterns of yaks.  Knowing how forage type may impact this growth rate will provide recommendations on how to improve performance of yaks in forage-based production systems in the southeast and the United State in general.  This information will be useful in estimating length of time needed to reach harvest and developing enterprise budgets.

  • Assess potential for yak meat market development

As meat is a key market product, we will develop a list of variables producers can work with their processors to begin collecting to establish baseline meat production information.  The majority of yaks are typically raised strictly within a forage system producing grass-fed meat.  Based on a review written in 2020, yak meat contains 26% protein and 1.6-4.7% intramuscular fat (Hao et al., 2020).  Conventional-raised beef longissimus muscle contains about 21% protein and 6-12% intramuscular fat.  As the United States continues to battle the ever-increasing obesity issue, leaner meat sources such as yak could see an increase in demand. 

Yak meat is beginning to find its way onto menus in upscale restaurants.  The nutritional aspects of yak meat positions it as an alternative to bison.  An advantage over bison is that yaks are domesticated having better temperaments and are safer to handle.  Internet prices for ground yak ranged from ~ $9 to $18 and steaks ranging between $15 to $35 per pound.  Kroger’s currently markets grass-fed ground beef for $8.49 and conventional ribeye steaks for $17.99 per pound.  Walmart markets ground bison for $8.98 per pound while commodity beef ribeye steaks are $13.97 per pound. The entry price point doesn’t seem to be a large obstacle to overcome.  However, a lack of available production information prevents us from knowing if yak producers are marketing meat at a profit.  Additionally, gathering feedback from chefs on their experiences with yak meat may help in developing marketing opportunities for meat.

When developing a meat market, understanding what the buyer wants in a product is key.  With limited meat production currently from yaks, restaurants may be a marketing opportunity.  Determining whether chefs would add yak entrees as a menu feature could help producers in developing meat markets.  Gathering information from chefs will help yak producers develop market plans.

  • Educational resource development

We have previously developed educational resources for beef farmers.  These include google forms for production records, a pasture finished beef enterprise budget, and other resources.  Gathering on-farm production data from our collaborators will help in developing resources.  This information along with international literature will be used to develop educational resources for yak producers.  Essential pieces needed include a production record system, enterprise budgets, and general animal husbandry information.  We will share this information at a conference and make the resources available online.

Project Objectives:

Objective 1 – Develop on-farm production records for basic yak management

We intend to collaborate with yak producers for this portion of the grant.  Visiting with our yak farm collaborators, we will establish relevant production characteristics to begin gathering information needed to assist in developing yak husbandry educational resources.  This information will include weights (i.e. weaning, yearling, mature), structural confirmation, fiber type, calving interval, carcass weight, meat yields, and other production information.  The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF Wiki) guidelines will be a starting point for discussion on information relevant to yak production. 

Google forms will be used to develop record sheets.  These will include calving, weaning, meat yield, bull and cow record sheets.  Collaborators will provide input on the development, ease of use, needed changes, and general thoughts on the use of records to improve their yak operations.

Objective 2 – Assess the season growth patterns of yaks on-farm in the Southeast

This part of the project will expand upon on-going data collection on yak performance.  The sustainability of a forage-based yak system for the region is limited by slower growth rates extending the time in which animals must be raised before marketing.  This lengthened time increases production costs and negatively impacts the economic viability of the system.  To investigate the impact of post-weaning forage quality on growing yaks, approximately 20 growing yaks will be utilized to evaluate growth rate during the grazing season and during winter hay feeding period.  Growing yaks will be weighed on day 0 and at approximately 45-day intervals or the end of each season.  A second grazing season will be included to evaluate gains during the grazing season as weather conditions can impact forage production and animal performance. This information will be used to develop a growing yak enterprise budget in Objective 4. 

During the grazing season, yaks will be randomly assigned to four groups providing replication necessary for statistical analyses.  Each grazing group will be assigned to a paddock that will provide sufficient forage for approximately 45 days to assess growth rates.  The grazing season will be split into three 45-day periods.  Periods will correspond to early spring, mid-summer and fall to evaluate performance during these periods.  Weather data will be collected from local weather stations to assess impact of environmental conditions on animal performance. 

At the beginning and end of each period, a total of 15 random locations from each paddock will be assessed for composition of forages following the Penn State Equine pasture evaluation method (PSU Pasture Disc).  From 30 locations, hand-grab samples will be collected, mixed and subsampled for analyses of nutrient content by a commercial laboratory (WVU Pasture Grab).  Forage height will be measured using a grazing stick from these locations to estimate forage availability to ensure intakes are not limited.  Additionally, fescue 15 plants within the paddocks will be sampled for the presence of the (UK Fescue Testing) and alkaloid level twice during the grazing season for each paddock.  The relationship between fescue alkaloids and animal performance will be assessed to determine the impact of alkaloid on animal gain.

During the winter hay feeding period, weights will be monitored every 45 days.  Hay bales will be weighed prior to feeding to estimate hay disappearance.  Hay will be sampled and analyzed for nutrient and mineral content by a commercial laboratory.  Winter feeding treatment will investigate the effect of forage type on animal performance.  Our preliminary data suggests that forage quality is important in maintaining positive weight gains during the winter.  Winter performance information will help with projecting the amount of time required to reach harvest weight which is needed for the development of the enterprise budget in Objective 4.

Objective 3 – Assess the interest of chefs to add yak meat to their menu

An online survey will be developed to gather general interest in yak meat by chefs.  The survey will be distributed through regional association of chefs and paid advertisements in popular press.  Working with our collaborators, we will identify 5-7 chefs and send yak meat samples for evaluation.  We will request they complete a questionnaire related to their experience in preparing the meat and eating experience.  We will ask them to share their opinions on the potential of yak meat as a menu item in their restaurant as well as details related to preferred cuts, fresh or frozen, portion sizes, etc.  This information will be helpful when developing markets for yak meat with restaurants.

Objective 4 – Develop yak production resources

Utilizing the published literature as well as findings from this on-farm research, producer educational resources on yak production will be developed.  Enterprise budgets for forage-based yak production systems will be developed.  A cow-calf system and a growing yak for meat enterprise budget will be developed.  A yak conference will be held to share the information and gather feedback on the resources.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Gregor Dike - Technical Advisor
  • Mary McCarty (Educator)
  • Jamie Sorum - Technical Advisor
  • Feb Taylor - Technical Advisor


Materials and methods:

Weighing yaksYaks grazing pasture in eastern Kentucky

2022-2023 Annual Report SSARE Yak Project

Winter Performance

Winter growth of forage-based production systems is often overlooked.  Low quality forage can lead to poor performance during winter months and delay harvest of animals for meat.  Additionally, poor weight gain can be costly as animals are consuming stored forages that are more costly to produce today with the higher fuel and fertilizer prices.  This study follows up a previous winter study assessing the performance of growing yaks during the winter in Kentucky to evaluate forage type and impact on weight gain.

Four approximate 0.5 acre grass lots were used to overwinter growing yaks.  Four growing yaks were assigned to each grass lot (16 total).  Hay types evaluated during the winter included alfalfa, orchardgrass and orchardgrass-red clover mix.  Each pen received a forage type for a period of 42 days (6 weeks).  Animals were weighed at the start and end of each period to calculated weight gain and average daily gain.  Weight of hay delivered to the grass lots was recorded to calculate hay disappearance for each period.  The bulk of hay waste was collected and weighed to subtract from the hay disappearance value.  Forage samples were collected and sent to a commercial laboratory for proximate analyses and calculation of energy values.


Summer Pasture Grazing Performance

We divided a cool-season mixed pasture (fescue, bluegrass, white clover, and other minor species and weeds) into four smaller fields of approximately 1.25 acre.  Twelve growing yaks were sorted by sex and assigned to one of the four pastures to assess growth rates of grazing yaks in Kentucky and differences between sex during the growing season of 2023.  Animals were weighed at the beginning and approximately then on day 49, 96 and 139 to monitor performance.  Forage height was measured using a grazing stick and multiplied by an assumed valued of 150 pounds of forage dry matter per inch of height to calculated forage dry matter available per acre to monitor forage availability.  Forage height data were collected from 20 random locations on days 0, 97, and 138.  Forage composition was assessed using the procedure described by PennState Extension using the Pasture Evaluation Disc.  The disc was tossed 20 times and the forage was classified as grass, legume, weed, litter or bare.  Pasture composition was determined on days 0 and 97 for each pasture area.

Comparison of Yak, Bison and Beef Sirloin for Nutrient Content

Sirloin steak samples were collected.  Samples were trimmed free of external subcutaneous fat.  Samples were then coarsely ground to pass through a ¼” die and regound a second time.  Ground samples were individually packaged and frozen until analyses.  Thawed samples were analyzed for moisture (AOACI 991.01) and crude protein using near infrared spectroscopy.  Crude protein was also measured using the combustion method for nitrogen analysis (AOACI 990.03).  Crude fat was analyzed via acid hydrolysis (AOACI 954.03).

Beef sirloin samples were purchased from retailers.  A range of beef samples were evaluated and included the following: USDA choice beef (n=3), USDA prime beef (n=3), grassfed beef (n=3) and organic grassfed beef (n=2).  Bison sirloin samples (n=6) were purchased from a retailer as well.  In most instances, beef and bison cuts with differing “use-by” dates were selected to represent different carcasses.  Yak samples were collected from different producers.  Yak sirloin samples (n=6) were obtained from one source which offered corn silage (CSYak) approximately the last 60 days prior to harvest.  Additional yak sirloin samples (n=14) were gathered from yak ranches/farms that utilized a forage-based growing and finishing system.

Chef Sensory Feedback of Yak Meat Products

              The study was approved for exemption by the University of Kentucky Institutional Review Board (#76140).  Three cuts of yak meat, ground, should roast, and ribeye steak, were provided to chefs to prepare as they desired.  USDA inspected yak meat was sourced from a single farm that harvested intact male yaks which were three years of age or greater.  Yaks were offered a forage only diet grazing a mixed species cool-season perennial pasture or cool-season hay during the winter months.  A feedback tool was utilized to collect basic sensory information and other information related to adding yak meat to a menu.  A Likert scale of 0-100 was utilized to gather feedback on how much they enjoyed the dish which was prepared from the yak meat cuts.  A similar scale was used to collect feedback on the juiciness, tenderness, intensity of flavor, and overall flavor of yak meat.  Chefs were asked to provide general feedback related to any off-flavors noted.  Questions were asked if chefs would add yak meat to a menu, attributes considered to add yak meat to a menu and the price they would expect to pay for the various cuts.  A total of eight responses were collected.  Responses were summarized with the mean, minimum and maximum values reported.

Research results and discussion:

Winter Performance of Growing Yaks

Alfalfa hay was found to provide the greatest weight and average daily gain compared to the other forages.  Orchardgrass and orchardgrass-red clover were similar in weight gain and average daily gain.  Average winter daily gains ranged between 0.26-0.38 pounds per day for the various hay types.  Hay disappearance was converted to a percent of body weight on a dry matter basis to more easily communicate with producer the hay needs.  Hay disappearance was similar across types ranging between 2.28% and 2.52% of body weight.

These findings will be used to assist in developing enterprise budgets for growing yaks for meat.  Previous popular press articles and videos have suggested that yaks only eat forage at a rate of 1% of their body weight.  We have sufficient evidence from this work as well as other published literature from India and China to suggest that North American yak population consume forage near the same rate as other ruminants and much higher than 1% of their body weight.

Grazing Performance of Growing Yaks

Grazing yak performance was observed to be greater than that seen for winter gains.  Our preliminary analysis suggests bulls had greater average daily gains (P<0.05) on average than heifers (0.83 vs. 0.67 pounds/day).  The difference (~19%) is similar to that observed for beef cattle where heifers have been reported to gain 15-20% slower than males. 

Pasture availability was found to be 698 to 968 pounds of dry matter per acre at the start of the study.  June was an abnormally hot and dry month for the region and severely limited pasture productivity.  Forage availability was found to be lower than at the start ranging between 615 to 893 pound of forage dry matter acre.  However, we deemed sufficient forage remained to continue the study and precipitation was received allowing us to continue the study.

Pasture composition at the beginning was observed to average 48% grass, 33% legume, 3% weed and 18% bare ground.  The legume was dutch white clover which is not tolerant to drought conditions.   On day 97, pasture composition reflected the drought conditions with average composition being 66% grass, 20% legume, 5% weeds and 9% bare ground.

We will utilize the animals again for a second grazing season to evaluate performance when animals are year older.  Again, this information will be utilized in development of enterprise budget models for those seeking to raise yaks for meat production.

Comparison of Yak, Bison and Beef Sirloin for Nutrient Content

The results indicate sirloin samples from forage-fed yaks were greater in moisture than other sources.  Sirloin samples from both bison and yak fed corn silage had similar moisture contents and were greater than beef. Crude protein content was quite similar for all sources of sirloins for both methods of analysis.  Crude protein determined with the combustion technique revealed yak finished with silage to have greater crude protein than beef samples while bison and forage-fed yak were intermediate.  Acid hydrolysis fat content was observed to be the greatest in beef samples averaging 4.7%.  Though not shown, the beef samples ranged between 3% and 10% fat.  Fat content was similar for bison, silage-finished yak and forage-fed yak.  Numerically, though not statistically different, forage-fed yak samples were lower than both bison and silage-fed yak.  The high degree of variability would require greater number of samples to be analyzed to determine whether yak is leaner than bison.  The fat content of forage-fed yak sirloin samples ranged between 0.3% to 1.8% while silage-finished yak ranged between 0.6% to 4% with bison ranging between 0.8% and 2.9%.

In summary, yak sirloin, regardless of management followed for samples obtained in this study, was found to be similar to that of bison in protein and fat content.  Being a domesticated animal, yak could be a viable lean red meat alternative to bison.











NIR Moisture, %

75.1c (3.4)

80.8b (1.9)

80.5b (2.1)

83.4a (2.1)

NIR Crude protein, %

21.0c (1.0)

21.5b,c (1.5)

22.3a,b (0.8)

22.8a (0.8)

Crude protein, %

22.2b (1.3)

22.8a,b (0.4)

23.8a (0.9)

22.9a,b (1.3)

Fat, %

4.7a (3.1)

1.7b (0.9)

1.6b (1.2)

0.9b (0.5)

Mean value followed by the standard deviation in parentheses.

a,b,c  Values with differing superscripts are statistically different (P<0.05).


Chef Sensory Feedback of Yak Meat Products

                A variety of entrees were prepared by the chefs.  Ground yak meat was used to prepare burgers, stuffed ravioli, taco meat, and meatballs.  Roast cuts were prepared in a variety of ways including: stew, New England-style pot roast, roast with blueberry wine and bacon, pot roast with carrots and cipollini onions, Posele stew, and braised with red wine then allowed to simmer.  Steaks were prepared as expected being either seared at very high temperatures or sous vide and then seared.  The entrees prepared by chefs showcased a diversity of dishes in which the cuts could be used in restaurants.  The roast and ground entrees were very similar in ranking and numerically higher than the ribeye steak for overall eating enjoyment of the dish (Table 1).  Overall flavor of the yak meat was reported to be similar for the cuts ranging between 73.6 to 79.  Flavor feedback was mostly positive and included comments such as slight flavor of lamb, game flavor, venison, very mild, and no off-flavor were reported by participants.  Participants were asked to describe any off-flavors they noted.  Additional comments included: earthy, grass, very lean, fat had intense gamey flavor, and very good having less intensity than venison.

               Basic sensory feedback was neutral to positive for the yak meat and are reported in Table 2.  The mean ratings for toughness of the roast and steak were 62.0 and 58.3, respectively.  A wide range was noted for toughness from as low as 20 to 97 indicating some found the meat tough to very tender.  This large degree of variability may be due to preparation, cut of meat or individual perception of toughness.  Ratings for juiciness were slightly greater than toughness for the roast and steak cuts.  Flavor intensity was numerically greater for the ground than the steak and roast.  This may be due to a slightly higher fat content of the ground product than the other cuts.

               Participants were asked if they would add yak meat to their menus.  The majority (5 of 8 or 62.5%) responded maybe while two individuals indicated “yes” and only one person indicated “no”.  The individual that responded with “no” was not due to the meat characteristics.  They operated a seafood restaurant and yak would not fit the theme.  The response was not due to the characteristics of the meat.  One chef that responded with “yes” had already added yak to their menu.  The attributes chefs considered important for the addition to a menu receiving the greatest frequency of responses included: locally sourced, price, availability and taste/flavor.  Grassfed and natural were important attributes for 50% of the participants while organic and grainfed were minor factors being reported.

               Price point is a key part of building a marketing plan and enterprise budget.  Participants were asked to indicate the price they would expect to pay per pound on a scale of $0 to $40 per pound for each cut.  As expected, the price chefs expected to pay was the lowest for ground yak meat averaging $7.30.  The average price chefs expected to pay for roast was $12.50 while the steak average price was $16 per pound.  This follows the same trend observed for pricing of beef cuts.  Chef responses may be biased as a result of the pricing system of other meat products such as beef.

               Yak meat is an acceptable lean red meat option for restaurants and has begun to find its way onto the menu.  Animals are processed similarly to beef allowing the preparation of a wide range of entrees.  The sensory feedback from chefs was neutral to positive with no issues of off-flavors that would negatively impact eating experiences.  Based on feedback, steaks are the most challenging with respect to toughness and consistency in eating experience.  Alterations in managing the middle meat cuts such as extended dry or wet aging may be needed to increase tenderness.  Processing animals at a younger age may also be an option if the demand for middle meats and profit margin improves to offset the lower meat yield from a younger, lighter animal.


We wish thank all the chefs that participated in evaluating these cuts and providing feedback.  We wish to thank Mr. Gregor Dike for providing the yak meat utilized in this study.  This grant was funded through a grant from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program project #OS22-157.


Table 1. Chef responses for how much they enjoyed the entrees they prepared with the yak meat cuts and overall flavor of the yak meat (0=Extremely Disliked & 100=Liked Immensely).

Meat Cut Entrée (n=8)
















Overall flavor

















Table 2. Chef responses for the overall Tenderness, Juiciness and Intensity of the flavor of the yak meat cuts (0=Very Tough, Very Dry, Extremely Bland and 100=Very Tender, Very Juicy or Extremely Intense).

Tenderness (n=8)
























Intensity of flavor
















Winter Hay Intake of Adult Yak Females

The study was approved by the University of Kentucky IACUC.  A total of 14 female yaks (avg. weight 562 lb) were utilized in this study to investigate hay disappearance during the winter.  Yak cows were weighed at the start of the study.  Cows were administered an oral anthelmintic (Valbazen) and injectable trace minerals (Multimin 90).  Four younger, smaller females were assigned to one pen to reduce competition of forage intake by older, larger cows.  The remaining 10 mature yak cows were randomly assigned to the three remaining pens.  The younger pen was assigned to have access to protein tubs to increase nutrient supply and more closely meet their expected nutritional needs.  One of the remaining three pens was then randomly assigned access to protein tubs.  Large square bales of cool-season grass hay were weighed prior to being placed into hay feeding racks in the pens.  Bale weights were recorded for determination of hay disappearance.  Several bales were probed to collect a sample for proximate analyses at the beginning of study.  The sample was submitted to a commercial laboratory for analysis.  Hay disappearance was monitored for a total of 69 days beginning December 21, 2023.  Pregnancy status was determined at the end of the study.

The average end weight was 569 pounds which was just slightly heavier than initial body weight.  Based on the days required to consume the first tub, average daily tub intake was approximately 1.8 pounds.  The pounds of hay dry matter disappearance ranged between 8.6 to 12.5 pounds daily.  When expressed as a percentage of body weight, hay dry matter disappearance ranged between 1.5% and 2.0%.  This was less than that observed for the growing yaks, but within range of that observed in beef cattle.  Previous research has indicated that 120/%NDF of forage = Dry Matter Intake as a percent of body weight.  The orchardgrass hay fed in this study was measured to be 62% which would predict a DM intake as a percent of body weight near 1.9%.  When averaged across all pens, hay disappearance was 1.8% very near that predicted.  Yaks may have offset intake by grazing the residual forage in the grass traps.  Overall, the forage intake was near that anticipated for the forage type offered.  A total of seven females were diagnosed as being pregnant.

Hay disappearance was slightly lower than expected averaging 1.8% of body weight.  This information will be beneficial in projecting winter forage needs.  Additionally, this information will be beneficial in developing enterprise budgets for yak production systems.



This project has investigated both winter and summer performance of yaks.  Hay disappearance was assessed in growing and adult yaks for use in planning winter stored forage needs.  Meat quality attributes as well as sensory attributes of yak meat was gathered for use in yak producers to improve their marketing of yak meat.  This information along with additional general knowledge was used to develop an enterprise budget for the production of yak meat from a weaned yak calf through processing of the animal. The outreach efforts were successful reaching several new and existing yak owners increasing their knowledge and awareness of general and advanced animal husbandry.

Participation Summary
5 Farmers participating in research

Educational & Outreach Activities

4 Consultations
4 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Journal articles
2 Published press articles, newsletters
8 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days
1 Other educational activities: Attended North American Yak Show in Denver. Been added as a member of US Yak Association science committee and shared the calving/weaning pocket book and other production record information.

Participation Summary:

201 Farmers participated
3 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Abstract submitted to the Southern sectional meetings of the American Society of Animal Science for summer grazing on-farm research.

Proceedings paper accepted for the 2023 International Grasslands Council meeting on winter performance and hay type for yaks.

Scientific Knowledge Advancement of Yaks (SKAY) webinar 2022 - Dr. Bullock gave a presentation on Considerations for a yak breeding program and Zach Bartenslager provided a judging terminology presentation for structural features of animals.

SKAY webinar series 2023 - several experts have been asked to provide a webinar on a variety of topics for yak owners. Through the first of November 2023, there have been 161 viewings of the videos and those that attended during the 8 webinars we have hosted.

Consulted with four yak producers on nutrition and management considerations.

Developed a body condition score factsheet for yaks.

Developed equations using published literature and our on-farm data to use a weight tape to estimate yak cow / calves body weights.

Developed an Excel spreadsheet Enterprise budget that includes the annual yak cow cost and then takes the calf through summer/winter systems and includes the cost of meat processing to arrive at the breakeven price of a calf at various stages.

Developed a fact sheet on how to use the Match A Yak online tool to reduce inbreeding.

Developed pocket weaning/calving record book.

Hosted 2023 SKAY Yak Husbandry and Research Update Conference

The second yak conference was held October 28, 2023 at Morehead State University.  A total of 48 tickets were claimed from the online registration site which had a total of 140 page views.  The conference was attended by some 40 individuals being at the conference with 12 registered participants canceling within 48 hours of the program.  Exact attendance was difficult to determine as many didn’t sign-in and some only watched the bull breeding soundness exam.  Participants came from across the United States with people traveling from Oregon, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, and Kentucky.  The conference spanned 11 hours providing information on general yak husbandry as well as updates from the Southern SARE supported producer and on-farm research grant work.  A post-program evaluation was provided and 12 individuals completed the questionnaire.  From the completed forms, 58% indicated they did not own yaks.  These individuals were looking to buy yaks and wanted to learn more about them first.  Knowledge gained was assessed using a 5-point Likert scale for knowledge level BEFORE and AFTER the program sessions.  All sessions saw knowledge increases between 1.3 and 2.8 units.  The greatest knowledge gain was for the STOCKET record app which few had seen before followed by the meat cutting demonstration and Match A Yak program.  When asked about the usefulness of the information presented using a 5-point Likert scale, the mean was 4.9 with 90% indicating the information was extremely useful.  When asked why participants owned or were interested in owning yaks, fiber and meat production were the greatest reason indicating followed by selling of breeding animals and pleasure with pack animals being only indicated by 2 individuals.  Participants were asked to rank sources they would like to see information be made available for yaks.  Facebook group had the lowest frequency of being selected as a source, but when ranked, this source was among the highest ranked.  Webpages were the greatest frequency and highest ranked followed by Yak Association newsletter/webpage and YouTube.  Podcasts and Extension websites were the next sources preferred.  This information should be used by the Yak associations to improve communications with their members and that individuals are willing to use multiple platforms to get information.  For those owning yaks, when asked what they intended to change after the conference, several indicating using the STOCKET app for record keeping, consider implementing artificial insemination, improve record keeping, improve fiber practices and marketing, use the Match A Yak program for mating decisions, develop a budget, improve forage program, and use the weigh tape to estimate body weights.  Overall, the program was a success with many increasing the core knowledge for managing yaks.

Learning Outcomes

38 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation
Key changes:
  • Collection of semen from yak bulls, impact of weather on semen quality

  • Cryopreservation of semen collected from yaks

  • Developing a market for yak fiber

  • Performance of growing yaks through the winter and during the grazing season

  • Basic health check of yaks and the process of performing a breeding soundness exam on bulls

  • How to tail bleed and use chute-side pregnancy test for yaks

  • Using CIDR device to control estrus

  • Use of artificial insemination in yaks to improve genetic diversity

  • How to body condition score yaks

  • Use of a weight tape to estimate animal weights

  • Use of the STOCKET app for record keeping

  • Improving value of meat using new meat cutting methods

  • Taste of yak meat and how it can be used in dishes

  • Using an enterprise budget to know the value of yak and yak meat

Project Outcomes

5 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Have built a relationship with Dr. Colt Knight, University of Maine, to assist in collecting feedback on yak meat from chefs, summarize and present this feedback.

Have built a relationship with several yak producers in the US.  Four of these provided yak meat samples for analyses for determination of moisture, protein and fat content.

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.