What is an elk?

Elks: Fast Facts

•  Elks are members of the deer family including Moose and Caribou

Recognized as the same species as Asian and European red deer, elk are set apart by its larger size and audible difference. An average mature male elk stands at around 5'-5'6" at the shoulder and weighs in at about 800-1100 lbs., with only its relative, the moose, surpassing in size. Mature cows' shoulder height is approximately 4'-5", with an average weight of 550 to 600 lbs. Although illegal to capture wild elk, farmed and ranched elk are a growing enterprise in many states. Elk travel in herds and are not as easily frightened as are other deer. Elk personalities are like most cattle, some animals display timid personalities while others are more aggressive. Elk adapt well to a farm setting and are easily managed. Handling usually only becomes more difficult during the rut and calving seasons.


In order to produce the best quality in your elk, feeding has to be the top priority. Without this, nothing else matters. Though primarily grass grazers, feeding on upland grasses and legume, elk also eat parts of trees and other plants. As the winter months hit and there is less graze, the elk's ability to maintain their diet by eating what is available helps their survival. This advantage makes them even more efficient than cattle. In most circumstances, in comparison to cattle, the amount of land to hold one female beef cow will sustain three female elk. Consider the fact that it takes less land to fence and manage for an equal herd size. After the rut, it is better to separate the elk bulls from the cows. Their feeding needs will be slightly different at this time.

Since elk require a higher amount of protein, it is recommended to supplement their diet. Especially during the velvet stages in the bull elk. They will demand higher nutritional needs than the average male cattle. However, with the sale of elk antler, these demands will pay off. Elk are known to pick through poor-quality feed to get to the good. In order to prevent waste and get top results, provide elk with the best possible feed. A well-balanced supply of copper and selenium is suggested. Only bulls grow antlers and at 2 years of age can start producing enough for commercial use. Their production can last more than 15 years. Unlike most things in nature, an elk's antlers grow yearly, shed and grow the next year. Having this ability, elk antler are a more valued product. To experience the best results and have above average antler weights, research the bloodline of prospects before purchase. Look at the history and background of the animal. Being familiar with the parents, siblings and offspring is crucial into understanding the superiority of the animal itself. Investing in the genetics and value of quality elk up front will bring faster results.

Elk Meat

Elk meat is perfect for today's health conscious consumers. It has no cholesterol, little fat and about one-fourth the calories of beef. Elk meat is delicious, easy to prepare, and always gets great reviews. The flavor compares to the finest beef. Both the size of the cuts and the color meet consumer expectations. Elk meat sells for several times the amount beef does. This, coupled with the efficient way elk convert grass and browse into the highest quality meat, provides a terrific return to the rancher.

Elk Velvet and Antlers

Hunting preserves offer hunters a chance to pursue one of the most sought-after trophies anywhere in the world. Hunts start at several thousand dollars for mature bulls and go to tens of thousands for the largest trophies. Large hard antler, mature bulls are in great demand. Elk velvet is perhaps the most important market. Antler is the fastest growing animal tissue. Each spring new antler begins to grow. The new antler, which is soft and highly vascular, can grow an inch or more per day. It grows and develops for two to three months before it starts to calcify and turn into a hard horn. The entire tissue is called velvet if it is harvested prior to the start of the calcification process. This velvet is humanely harvested annually once the bulls reach two years of age. The Asian market has historically paid 20 to 120 dollars a pound for the velvet and taken the entire crop from North America . A good bull should average over 20 pounds per year and live to be at least 14. The largest bulls in North America cut over 50 pounds of velvet. Eastern Medicine has used elk antler for centuries. Research in Russia , Canada , Great Britain , New Zealand and Australia confirms the value of elk antler in treating Arthritis by reducing pain and inflammation, reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, treating mood disorders, boosting the immune system and for tissue repair and restoration after intense exercise or stress.

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