— The Yakzz Team

A Yak or 2 | Great Lakes Ranch

Providing the Yak Experience in Northern Michigan

Mark Priest
4181 Croy Lk RdMancelona, MI 49659
(231) 313-2998
(231) 357-5987

What's a Yak?

Yaks are native to the mountains and plateaus of South Asia with the majority of the population located in Tibet, Nepal, and Mongolia. Yaks were domesticated by the nomadic Tibetan people who have depended on their versatility and hardiness for thousands of years. Yak dairy and meat are vital sources of protein and fat, yak down-fiber is fashioned into warm textiles, and rope, tents, and other products are made from the coarser guard hair. Yaks are also used to transport people and supplies through the inhospitable Himalayan Mountains. Even yak dung is important. In the highly elevated, treeless regions it is used to fuel fires for cooking and warmth.

Yaks are a bovine animal and are distantly related to both cows and bison, but are a distinct animal species. Their defining physical characteristics include long hair, cloven hooves, a shoulder hump, and horns on both males and females. Their coat coloring is classified into the following categories:

Imperial (All dark)

Trim (mostly dark with minimal white markings)

Royal (considerable amounts of light coloring; often with a pink or tan nose)

Golden (reddish hue, often with gray and white markings)

These are the only naturally occurring yak colorations. Additional coloring is only possible through crossbreeding with other bovine animals.

Why Yaks?


Yak meat is the healthiest red meat* out there, it’s delicious, and it’s in demand.

  • Yak is lower in fat than beef, bison or chicken breast
  • It’s lower in cholesterol than choice beef, bison, chicken breast, tuna, or salmon
  • It’s higher in healthy omega 6 and omega 3 fats than beef, and higher in omega 6 than tuna
  • The taste is similar to beef with no gamey flavor
  • A high moisture content keeps this lean meat incredibly juicy
  • Demand for yak meat in the US is greater than the supply

*Nutritional information taken from 2011 IYAK study


Yaks grow an insulating undercoat of fine fiber in the winter months that is harvested by combing it out from under long and coarse guard hair. The down-fiber is desirable for many qualities:

  • Warmer than cashmere, merino, alpaca, or angora
  • Naturally hypoallergenic: It is lanolin free and can be worn by those with wool allergies
  • Naturally antibacterial: It does not retain body odors and requires minimal laundering
  • Soft, breathable, and beautiful: At 16-20 microns in size, yak fiber is one of the finest animal fibers


Yaks need less space and feed compared to cattle, making them a good option for the micro-farmer and the environmentally-conscious.

  • Yaks can consist on as little as an acre per animal
  • They do not need grain
  • They eat about a third of what a cow does to gain a pound