Yaks and yak herders are an important part of the Happiness Cycle here at Chews Happiness™. For centuries, yak herders have lived high in the Himalayan mountaintops, tending to yaks that roam and graze semi-wild. This is the traditional lifestyle and culture that every purchase of a Chews Happiness product helps to support.
Having personally met more than a few yaks in our travels to Bhutan, we can vouch that they’re pretty remarkable creatures. We’d like you to get to know them, too, by checking out these fast facts about marvelous yaks!
- Yaks are naturally friendly animals with very few recorded incidents of aggression towards humans.
- They are the highest-dwelling mammal in the world, typically living at altitudes of 18,000 feet and quite capable of living up to 23,600 feet above sea level.
- Yaks belong to the same bovine family as the Asian Water Buffalo, the African Buffalo and the American Bison.
- They are herbivores and munch on grass, flowers, moss and tubers.
- Wild male yaks can reach a height of 6-1/2 feet and weigh as much as 2,200 pounds. Females are about 1/3 the size.
- Herds range from 10 to 100 animals, consisting mainly of females and their young.
- Females usually give birth to a single calf after 9 months of gestation.
- The life expectancy of a wild yak is about 20 years while domesticated yaks live slightly longer.
- They have dense horns that allow them to break through snow and ice to forage for plants underneath.
- Their thick, wooly coats protect them in temperatures lower than -40 degrees Fahrenheit. (Some yaks have even been observed swimming at this temperature!)
- The under layer of a yak’s coat is called down. It is as soft as cashmere and 10–15% warmer than merino wool.
- Yak down is a sustainable, renewable fiber and is extremely rare.
- Each yak only produces about a kilogram of fiber annually. That’s about the same amount produced by a tiny German angora rabbit!
- The Bhutanese not only drink yak’s milk, but also use it to make delicious cheese and butter.