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Musk Ox Farm

Agriculture / Farming

12850 E Archie Rd,
Palmer, AK 99645

(907) 745-4151

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About

The Musk Ox Development Corporation (MODC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is dedicated to the domestication of the musk ox and to the promotion of qiviut production as a gentle and sustainable agricultural practice in the Far North, with a focus on public education and providing income opportunities to Alaska Native People. Agriculture must be in harmony with its environment. Our founder John Jerome Teal Jr. was guided by a belief that the domesticated animals and plants of each of the world’s major biogeographical zones should be selected from among the indigenous species of those areas. He saw in the musk ox an animal able to “convert northern grasses into ready employment and cash income” through the utilization of industry that would ultimately benefit both threatened cultures and a threatened species. This ecological philosophy, combined with concern for the peoples of the Arctic’s tundra and coastal villages, gave rise to the project to domesticate the musk ox, an animal indigenous to these same regions. In 1954, John J. Teal Jr. put theories to the test regarding possible domestication of musk oxen by bringing the first animals to his farm in Huntington Center, Vermont from the Thelon Game Sanctuary in northern Canada. He wanted to answer the question of whether or not musk oxen could survive and successfully breed in captivity, and respond to taming and become accustomed to handling by humans. Agriculture must be in harmony with its environment. Teal was guided by a belief that the domesticated animals and plants of each of the world’s major biogeographical zones should be selected from among the indigenous species of those areas. He saw in the musk ox an animal able to “convert northern grasses into ready employment and cash income” through the utilization of industry that would ultimately benefit both threatened cultures and a threatened species. This ecological philosophy, combined with concern for the peoples of the Arctic’s tundra and coastal villages, gave rise to the project to domesticate the musk ox, an animal indigenous to these same regions. In 1964, Mr. Teal collected musk oxen from Nunivak Island, Alaska to launch the project in Fairbanks, Alaska. Most of the animals here on the farm today can trace some of their lineage back to those original animals. In 1969, Oomingmak Musk Ox Producer’s Cooperative was formed, recruiting Alaska Native knitters to create qiviut garments. Patterns are derived from, and created to resemble items of historical importance in regions where knitters will produce unique patterns. In 1984, two years after John J. Teal Jr.’s passing, the 501(c)(3) non-profit Musk Ox Development Corporation (MODC) was created. MODC is responsible for all animal husbandry, care, feeding and harvesting of qiviut, separating MODC and Oomingmak into two distinct entities. Oomingmak continues to take raw fiber from the farm and distributes spun yarn to its members, who create garments for the market. This link still exists today to continue work towards John Teal’s vision. In 1986, the project was moved onto the current property in Palmer, Alaska. Today, the 75-acre farm is home to our herd of 83 musk oxen, Tour Barn Museum & Gift Shop.