Milk and Dung Production by Yaks (Poephagus grunniens): Important Products for the Livelihood of the Herders and for Carbon Recycling on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

  • A. Allan DegenEmail author
  • Shaher El-Meccawi
  • Michael Kam


The Qinghai-Plateau, characterized by an extremely harsh environment, namely, severe cold, low air oxygen content and strong ultraviolet radiation, accounts for one-third of the total grasslands in China. Yaks (Poephagus grunniens) have adapted well, both physiologically and anatomically, to the high altitude and extreme cold. They are vital for the livelihoods of the herders, providing milk and meat for consumption, dung for fuel, fertilizer and building material and fiber for clothing, tent material and rope. It is estimated that, on an annual basis, each lactating female yak produces an average of 288 kg milk, 19 kg butter, 17 kg hard dried curds (qula) and 84 kg yoghurt and each yak produces an average of 786 kg of dung organic dry matter. This paper discusses the importance of milk and dung production by yaks for the livelihood of the herders and the role of these products in carbon recycling.


Yaks Milk production Dung production Carbon recycling Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau Extreme climate Sedentarization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Allan Degen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shaher El-Meccawi
    • 2
  • Michael Kam
    • 1
  1. 1.Desert Animal Adaptations and Husbandry, Wyler Department of Dryland AgricultureBlaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael
  2. 2.Achva Academic CollegeArugotIsrael

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