Yakows: The Mule of the Cow World
What is a Yakow?
Yakow is the English word for an Asian animal that is a cross between a domestic cow and a yak. Females, called dzo-mus, are used for milking, fiber, meat, and are occasionally used as a beasts of burden. Males, called dzos, are most often used as beasts of burden, pulling ploughs for farmers, but are also used for meat and occasionally fiber. The males of these first generation hybrids are sterile but the females are not. Generally male domestic bulls are bred to female yaks to produce the hardiest, strongest, and largest offspring. In many Asian countries they demand a higher price then purebred yaks because of their additional strength and multipurposes. In Nepal there is said to be at least 124 variations of yakows, crossed to many breeds of bovine, both humped (like Zebus) and humpless (like Watutsi.) They are most common in Nepal, Mongolia, Northeastern Afghanistan, Northern Pakistan, Northeast and Northwest India, Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet, Western China, and Southeastern Russia.
Modern Benefits of the Yakow
Yakow offspring are smaller at birth when compared to standard bovine offspring which results in their mothers having fewer birthing problems. They also are hardier when it comes to extreme weather conditions and are said to be more docile and less stubborn then yaks, making them the perfect pack and plough animals. They grow larger then either of their parents and reach sexual maturity at a quicker rate. The females produce 7kg of milk daily, in comparison with 3kg given by yaks. Their milk is higher in fat but the taste is strong and takes some getting used to. You can make cheese and other dairy products from this milk. These animals have half the stocking rate as regular bovine, meaning twice as many of them can be sustained on the same amount of land. The males are the strongest of all the bovines. They are however not as hardy as the yaks when it comes to extreme altitudes. Still the Yakow may be of great benefit to introduce to third world countries which are not familiar with it considering its high productivity, low impact, and many uses. The Yakow may become a far more popular animal in the future. In first world countries like the United States Yakows are mostly bred as pack animals or for exhibition purposes as we have less of a need for exotic milk, meat, and fibers.
A Note of Thanks
Photos of Yakows and yakow calves were made possible by Tracy, and her farm of lovely hybrids.