Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Harvesting Alaska: Ranchers try to meet demand for yak
Hand-raised yaks, not in the Himalayas, but the heart of Alaska.
“Trina!” Barbara Fithian called out. She knows almost every one of her animals at the Circle F Ranch by name.
“Woebegone gets fed with a bottle because his mom didn’t have enough milk,” she explained.
Another steer, Drifter, is special to the Fithians.
“He’s a small yak, kind of a runt,” Bobby said. “He’s trained to pack and to ride. He’s such a treasure to us he’ll never be a meat animal.”
Barbara and her husband Bobby Fithian are hunting guides who wanted to find a sustainable use for their hundreds of acres outside Glennallen.
Hours of research led them to yaks. While cattle eat three percent of their body weight, yaks only eat one percent. In the winter, that saves the Fithians money when they have to feed supplemental hay. Yaks can also withstand the blistering cold, 40 below zero temperatures of the interior.
Barbara said it’s also one of the healthiest red meats in the world, leaner than chicken. Yak ranching just seemed to make sense to the Fithians as more people push for farm to table food. Yaks are a new meat industry in Alaska. The Circle F Ranch is now up to 100 head; Bobby said there 300 yaks in the state altogether and only 6,000 in the entire United States. “The problem is once you go yak, you never go back — but there’s never enough yak,” he laughed. The Fithians keep a freezer full of meat in their gift shop at their ranch about 15 miles up the Edgerton Highway. Despite a higher price than beef — $28 a pound for sirloin — they can barely keep it in stock. The Fithians keep a freezer full of meat in their gift shop at their ranch about 15 miles up the Edgerton Highway. Despite a higher price than beef — $28 a pound for sirloin — they can barely keep it in stock.Most of that meat ends up on the grills at David McCarthy’s restaurants. The chef-turned-restaurateur owns four eateries in Denali and just opened the 49th State Brewing Company in Anchorage where yak is featured in several ways on the menu...more