In preparation for a blog post about Ashland Bay’s yak products, we took a deep dive into researching the majestic animal that produces this luxurious and somewhat scarce fiber. During our research, we found so many fascinating facts about the yak that we decided to dedicate an entire post to 3 characteristics of this enchanting beast.
YAK THRIVE IN CHALLENGING ENVIRONMENTS.
The yak is mainly found in Tibet and the Himalaya mountains of central Asia. This environment is extreme both in altitude and temperature, and yet the hearty yak thrives.
Yak are well built for living in the high altitudes of the Himalayas. They have larger lungs than cattle (which they are related to). Yak also have smaller red blood cells in higher quantities that provide an increased amount of oxygen in their blood.
Yak possess large rumen (the first large compartment of the stomach of ruminants) that allows them to consume a larger volume of low-quality food. The large rumen is important because it allows yak to ferment their food longer to extract more nutrients. They have dense multi-layered coats and very few sweat glands.
YAK ARE BOTH WILD AND DOMESTICATED.
Although sheep and goats were domesticated earlier than yak, the domestication of yaks was not far behind. Today the wild yak is listed as a threatened species with a population of only about 10,000. The wild yak is a larger than the domestic yak and their coats are black or a very dark brown. The domestic yaks color can range from natural white to black, reds to browns, and can even be spotted. Yak fiber imported into the United States can only be sourced from domestic animals.
YAK ARE MULTI-PURPOSE.
The domestic yak is an integral part of the lives of the nomadic people that live in this area of the world. They are a working animal that can pack goods, plow fields and be saddled and ridden. Their coats provide three different ranges of wool, from a coarse hair used to make sturdy ropes to vey fine down used for clothing. They also are a source of meat and milk. In addition yak milk is used to make butter for butter tea, cheese and is also fermented into yak wine. Their dried dung is an excellent source of fuel which is especially valuable in the areas above tree line. And if that weren’t enough, yak also provide entertainment with the recently introduced yak sports include yak racing and yak polo.
Yak and their fiber are truly unique! Ashland Bay is excited to now offer half pound samples of each fiber and sample skeins of each yarn. Yak products include Merino/Yak/Silk fiber, Yak/Silk fiber, Savasana throw blankets, Lotus yarn and our brand-new Lexington yarn.
Fleece & Fiber by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, https://www.amazon.com/Fleece-Fiber-Sourcebook-Fibers-Animal/dp/1603427112