Yakut Cattle

Ark of taste
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Over 40 percent of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) lies above the Arctic Circle. Thanks to a long process of natural selection, the Yakut breed of cattle has adapted perfectly to the northeastern Siberian region’s harsh climate and scarce vegetation. Yakut cattle have excellent thermoregulation and a slow metabolism, allowing them to survive at low temperatures. The animals can graze all year round despite winter temperatures reaching 50-60°C below zero (-58 to -76°F). The semi-nomadic lifestyle of the local population has encouraged this adaption. Without cattlesheds, the animals were forced to seek out their own food even in the winter, digging through the snow with their hooves. However, during the last century the local people began following the example of the Russians and started to build barns and provide hay for their livestock. The remote geographic location and isolation from other breeds have preserved the genetic line of the Yakut cattle from crosses with other breeds used for large-scale intensive farming. Yakut cattle are short, with strong, stocky legs and a coat three times longer than other cattle breeds. A Yakut cow provides on average 1,112 kilos of milk a year, though some can produce over 2,500 kilos. Yakut milk is rich in fat, producing butter and cheese with a delicate, sweet flavor. The most common local dairy products are tar, made from skimmed and fermented milk, and suorat, based on milk that is boiled, beaten and then fermented. The most common dish is kyuercheh, whipped cream with fresh berries. In 1928, there were around 494,000 Yakut cattle in Yakutia. Now there are four public farms with a total of 224 animals, while another 800 are farmed privately. During the Soviet period the Yakut were often crossed with Simmental and Kholmogor cattle, but now the government authorities are working to protect the breed and have helped set up two gene banks.

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Sakha republic

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Breeds and animal husbandry