Spring is in the air and so is lots and lots of Fiber!
When yak begin to shed their warm, water resistant undercoat, also called fiber, it works it's way to the surface and is visible in the outer layer of hair (also known as guard hair). Sometimes it looks like a yak has fuzz on it and sometimes big clumps pop out. Either way it means the it is time to get out my brushes and combs! Several of the yak get so itchy from shedding they gladly allow me to comb them in the pasture, others really don't care for getting combed and require being contained in out squeeze chute. A squeeze chute is a devise that the yak goes into and it closes around them, this keeps them still and me safe from any objections they may have.
I'm often asked, "How is the fiber combed from the yak?" and "When is the fiber shaved off?" Yak fiber is combed off, never shaved unless it is too matted to remove by combing. To comb fiber off I start by using a mane and tail type brush to break up dirt and debris that may be on the hairs and detangle knots in the guard hair. Then I use a blower, a shopvac works nicely, to blow off any loose debris such as dirt, hay and dander. After that I start combing with my metal comb, I use short quick strokes in a pulling motion more than a combing motion. Once I have removed what I can with the metal comb I move on to the dog shedding rake, using the same type of motion. With both combs it is important to not dig the teeth into the yaks skin, I am careful to keep the parallel to the skin so that it pulls the hair up and off. I have found that for wooly yak or yak with very dense coats the metal comb works the best. Also, for my wooly yak I use a de-matting comb it breaks up large mats and knots.