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Possibility of increasing yak number and productive efficiency in Kyrgyzstan

B. Chertkov1 and M. Kasmaliev2

1. Kyrgyzstan Institute of Cattle Breeding, Kyrgyz Republic
2. Livestock Institute of Kyrgyz Agriculture Academy, Kyrgyz Republic


Yak produce meat, milk, leather, wool, hair and draft power without need of intensive care and feeding. They graze on the natural pasture year-round. Under proper management and breeding systems, the profitability from yak raising can reach to 80% and even more which is incomparably higher than that from other animal industries. Despite its uniqueness, the total number and live weight of yak in Kyrgyz Republic has been reducing in the last two decades; for example, in 1978 there were 79,300 head, but only 20 thousand head left at the beginning of 2000. However, the natural conditions of Kyrgyz Republic may support 200250 thousands of yak without damage to other kinds of animals and the natural resources. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the number of yak and improve the productive performances through creating breeding systems under concrete economic conditions.

Analysis of the yak herd structure in regions of Tian-Shan shows that the percentage of yak cows in all regions is less than 33% which essentially constrained the increase of the number. The very low percentage of young breeding females around 2 years old also meant that it is impossible to adjust herd structure in the near future. If, however, the percentage of young yak could be increased, the number of reproductive cows will also go up. However, there are less than 60 farms having 100 reproductive cows in 1999.

Low conception rate occurred in most of yak herds. The bulls give high fertilisation at the age of 3 to 6 years old. An important issue not yet being given due attention is that 60% of the bulls used in herds were over 10 years old. Since there is no exchange of bulls between small herds, the bulls may also be used for services to its daughters, which would result in severe in-breeding.

Low reproductive rate may also happen as a result of unproportional ratio of the bulls to cows. In Kyrgyzstan a ratio of 1:20 is a common practice. A right ratio should be 1 to 12. The age of females used for the first calving in the area is around 18 months, which is too young under the harsh environment. Maturity is achieved for a yak cow around 2830 months. Means of selection and breeding of yak is made impossible through the degeneration of their live weight, high mortality and the decreased adaptability to the high mountain climate.

One hundred yak bulls were imported into Kyrgyz from 1978 to 1991 as an exchange effort which come to a halt ever since. To avoid the in-breeding in Kyrgyz, 'freshness' of yak blood is urgently needed.

Two breeding herds with 129 and 137 yak cows each were formed in Bakai-Tash farm of Talas area with 34 yak bulls. Breeding programme was also carried out at Aikol farm of Ton area. Four breeding yak cow herds with live weight ranging from 290 to 320 kg were organised which was higher than the average live weight of 250 to 260 kg. Thirty yak bulls were distributed to the Son-Ku farm of Kochkor area. We suggest following issues be considered in the near future, among others:

  1. investigating the basic information of selection and breeding programmes
  2. encouraging the exchange of yak bulls between herds
  3. setting breeding yak cow herds with superior live weight and other important economic traits
  4. regulating the herd structure
  5. developing a market-oriented yak production system.

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