Origins and characteristics of the Yack
The yack is an artiodactyl mammal of the Bovid family.
The wild yack, Bos grunniens mutus (the male is called Drong, while the term Dri or Nak is used for females), lives in the mountains of Tibet, Pamir and on the Himalayan slopes, up to 6000 meters above sea level, regions almost of the all without arboreal vegetation; in winter, during blizzards, they crouch side by side with their heads turned inward and await the end of the storm.
It is characterized by an elongated but muscular and powerful body, short legs and long dark brown fleece that reaches almost to the ground; it has a small head and the horns only well spaced, long and curved, reminiscent of those of domestic cattle. The tail is long and well covered with long hair. It can reach a height of 1.90 m at the withers and a weight of 1,000 kg.
The domestic variety, (Bos grunniens) of smaller stature and of extremely variable color depending on the breed, is used as a pack and saddle animal, in addition to providing meat, milk and wool. Its excrements, dried in the sun in the form of a tile, constitute an important fuel in some arid areas and almost without tree vegetation.
Very common the cross with common bulls (Bos taurus), librido known as Dzo, or Dzopkio, is much more docile and manageable, it also seems to produce excellent milk and meat.
The wild species had become extinct in Mongolia as early as the 18th century, and small wild herds in Tibet are also under threat due to the hunting and expansion of herding.
Wild Yack Pair
Yak of Pamir
Pamir is the highest plateau in Tajikistan and the breeding of cattle on natural pastures, such as yaks, represents the main activity of the agricultural sector. The typical mountain climate, therefore rigid and continental: winter lasts from October to April; the absolute minimum temperatures also reach -50 ° C. Summer, on the other hand, is short and cold and summer temperatures do not exceed 20 ° C. The yaks have adapted surprisingly to the harsh climatic conditions of the highlands, where temperatures can be kept below zero even for 50-60 days. In addition, they are able to exploit natural vegetation to perfection perfectly even when the snow cover reaches 15-20 cm and they are able to find grass with the help of hooves. They don't need stables to survive.
Yaks are widely used for the production of meat, milk and wool, as well as as a vehicle in remote mountain areas. Yak meat is fibrous, red in color and much darker than that of other cattle. since the hemoglobin content in the muscle is quite high. The milk production of the yak females is 1.5-2.5 liters per day, with an average fat content of 6-9%. From yak milk, the inhabitants of Pamir obtain butter, saru mai, kefir and kurut.
At the time of the Soviet Union, large sovchoz existed in Pamir for the exploitation of yaks, and breeding was also widespread. At the time, the Soviet state economic system chose Pamir as the main yak breeding region, mainly involving Kyrgyz breeders. Today the farms have been liquidated, but the Association of Tajikistan farmers is still engaged in breeding yaks. Most yak herds are still controlled by state-owned enterprises, heirs to collective farms. The main farms where yaks are bred are located in the Aličur settlement and near Chechekty in the district of Murghab; each farm houses over a thousand animals. The unfavorable economic conditions of the transition period led to a reduction in herds compared to the Soviet period. According to expert estimates, at the moment the heads of yak have more than halved (Slow Food Foundation www.fondazioneslowfood.com)