China says newly-bred yak will improve meat production

Yak seen resting on the mountains of Kyirong county of southwest Tibet.(Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(, Jul01’19) – Demand for meat has seen dramatic rise in China in recent decades as a result of the country’s phenomenal economic growth which has seen many hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty. And as supplies of pork, the country’s main high nutrition diet, have been severely affected by the still raging African swine fever, Chinese scientists have declared success in producing a new breed of yak that will improve meat production in the country, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency Jul 1.

The tall and powerful Ashidan yak weighs over 400 kg, is hornless, and as obedient as a lamb, the report said.

The new breed is stated to have been produced by Ms Yan Ping and her team from the Lanzhou Institute of Husbandry and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

The report said it took more than 20 years for Yan’s team, working with Datong Yak Breeding Farm in Qinghai Province, to breed the Ashidan yak, named after the 4,380-metre Ashidan Mountain that looms over the farm.

“It is better suited to large-scale intensive breeding in the cold and arid alpine areas of China. We can make full use of the feed resources in alpine and semi-agricultural and semi-pastoral areas of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau,” the report quoted Yan as saying.

Noting that about 6 percent or 7 percent of yaks in Qinghai had no horns naturally, these were selected for the breeding programme. Scientists identified the genes related to horns and cultivated the Ashidan using molecular breeding technology. Each Ashidan had a similar physique and appearance, and they are genetically stable, Yan was cited as saying.

The vital statistics about the new breed is stated to include the fact that under the same feed conditions, the average reproductive survival rate of the Ashidan yak is 59.98 percent, 11.72 percentage points higher than local yaks, and mortality is 1.24 percent, 4.32 percentage points lower.

Almost 4,000 male Ashidan yaks have already been introduced to Qinghai farms to improve the stock, the report said, adding this is expected to help herdsmen on the Plateau out of poverty.

The average weight of the Ashidan at 18-months is stated to be 92.77 kg, or 24.71 percent heavier than local yaks.


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