The following is some general information about elk. If you still have any questions feel free to call!
Elk belong to the deer family, also known as cervids. An elk stomach has 4 chambers; the first stores food while the other 3 digest it.
Male elk are called bulls, females are called cows and babies are called calves.
Bulls weigh on average 700-1200 lbs, cows 500-800 lbs and calves average 35 lbs at birth.
Cows can breed at 18 months of age and can be bred up to 15-20 years of age. The gestation will last about 245-255 days. Calves are born in May or June and have reddish brown coats with white spots and a tan rump. Twins in elk are rare while twins, triplets and quads in whitetail are common. In the first year of life and elk will gain up to and even over 300 lbs.
Antlers only grow on bulls and are shed every Spring unless harvested sooner by the producer. Antler can grow 1 - 1 1/2 inches per day and is regulated by the length of daylight. As the antler grows is is soft to the touch with a hair like covering called velvet. Velvet is the word used to describe the antler before it calcifies. The Orient have used velvet for over 2,000 years as a natural remedy. In North America velvet is marketed as a dietary supplement and research promotes that velvet antler reduces inflammation, influences body metabolism, supports immune function, protects damaged tissues, and improves blood, liver and kidney function. Velvet is full of vitamins, minerals and supplements needed by the body to "repair" itself. There is a synergistic balance of the components as they exist naturally in velvet antler. In the first 75 days a domestic elk may produce as much as 20-50 lbs of new antler tissue depending on the bulls age and genetic quality. Velvet yields increase yearly until a bull reaches maturity. Velvet is a commodity and in the past has ranged from $20-110 per pound. The bull regrows the velvet each year and it is harvested with no harm to the animal. North America only produces a small portion of the market demand for velvet. It is harvested at a specific point in the growing process to ensure quality and is tested to meet federal regulations prior to sale. If the antler is left to grow it will reach its potential by late summer and harden off into solid bone. A full set of antler can weigh over 40 lbs.
Elk typically field dress out to approximately 63% of their live weight.
Elk meat is very nutritious. The following is a chart provided by the USDA Nutrient Database based on a 100 gram serving.
Nutrient: Elk Beef Chicken Skinless Chicken with Skin Pork
Protein (g): 22.95 17.32 21.39 18.6 18.95
Total Fat (g): 1.45 24.05 3.08 15.06 14.95
Sat Fat (g): 0.530 9.75 0.79 4.31 5.28
Cholesterol (mg): 55 74 70 75 67
As you can see elk meat is very healthy and it really tastes great. There are numerous delicious elk recipes available online and even more elk information including steps to getting started raising your own elk at http://www.wapiti.net/ There are several deer and elk forums available to answer any questions you may have. North American Elk Breeders Association (NAEBA) is another resource for elk information check them out at https://www.naelk.org Visit as many farms as possible because we have not met an elk or deer farmer yet that wasn't willing to help or give advice to anyone just getting started or considering.
Each farm operates a little differently and each state has different regulations and rules regarding raising cervids. Make sure to check with your state to know what health requirements may be in place and testing that needs to be done yearly. Some states have restrictions on moving elk or deer in from other states with lesser requirements so you will need to look into this as well before purchasing. Check out the KCBA link provided below to find information pertaining to Kansas. Feel free to call or email if you have any questions and we can point you in the right direction.
Anderson Elk Ranch
Ken & Deb Anderson (Fort Scott, KS)
Robin Anderson, Dominic & MaKenna Savener