The Yak (Bos grunniens) is a bovine native to the Tibetan highlands, characterized by its imposing size, its thick fur with long dark hairs and large and enlarged horns.

Also called Tibetan ox, the Yak is bred in many areas of central Asia, where it plays a key role in rural subsistence economies.

The domesticated species may exceed a meter and a half in height at the withers and weigh even more than five quintals. The wild yak, now rare, reaches dimensions even higher, so that adult males can exceed one ton in weight and two meters in height at the withers.

Yak 2019 | Properties, Uses and Benefits of Yak Wool Clothing

Yak wool is traditionally used by Tibetan and Mongol nomads to make clothes, curtains, ropes and blankets. Recently, this precious and very expensive fiber has also entered the western luxury knitwear sector

The Yak (Bos grunniens) is a bovine native to the Tibetan highlands, characterized by its imposing size, its thick fur with long dark hairs and large and enlarged horns.

Also called Tibetan ox, the Yak is bred in many areas of central Asia, where it plays a key role in rural subsistence economies.

The domesticated species may exceed a meter and a half in height at the withers and weigh even more than five quintals. The wild yak, now rare, reaches dimensions even higher, so that adult males can exceed one ton in weight and two meters in height at the withers.

Yak wool

In addition to being used as a pack animal for plowing and transport, and as a source of milk and derivatives, the Yak also plays an important role in its wool.

Like the Cashmere goats, the Yak also originates from the Tibetan highlands, where it lives at particularly high altitudes, around 4,000 and 6,000 meters. To adapt to the rather hostile environmental conditions, characterized by extremely low winter temperatures and strong temperature changes, the Yak has developed several adaptations, such as the reduced number of sweat glands, large heart and lungs, and a strong ability to extract the oxygen from the blood. Another form of adaptation is given by the thick fur, composed of three coats, of which the innermost one (called undercoat) is thinner, warmer and fluffy.

The hairs of the innermost coat of the yak have a diameter of around 16-20 microns, comparable to that of the best quality merino wool and very close to that of Cashmere. Warm and very soft, it allows to obtain very fine fabrics, usually dark but also light, depending on the animal's hair. The yak naturally develops this very fine wool as winter approaches and loses it in late spring / early summer; therefore, it is typically harvested in spring before the summer moult.

Similar to what was seen for Cashmere goats, to develop adequate quantities of fine and high quality wool, the Yak must be raised in prohibitive environmental conditions, which prevent intensive farming and reduce the availability of the material. Yak wool is particularly expensive and is used for high fashion garments, often blended with extra-fine merino wool or cashmere.