Elks are not a common sight, even in the wild. But when you see them, it is difficult not to marvel at their incredible size (and antlers, if it’s a bull elk).
I still wonder how they are able to carry their thick, heavy bodies on those slender, short legs. If you’re here, you’re probably wondering how heavy an elk is.
So, how much does an elk weigh?
Well, the exact size depends on a few factors such as the gender, age, and species. In general, an adult male elk, also known as a bull, weighs around 700-1,100 pounds. It attains this size at about 7 years of age; this is the largest size. Female elks, on the other hand, have an average weight of 550 pounds.
Let’s delve straight in!
Factors Affecting An Elk’s Weight
There are several factors that can influence the weight of an elk. These include:
As elk age, their weight typically increases until they reach their prime, after which it may begin to decline. This usually happens around age 7 to 8 in males and age 2-14 in females.
The quality and quantity of food available to elk can significantly impact their weight. Elk primarily feed on grasses, shrubs, and tree bark. An elk with access to abundant, nutrient-rich food sources will typically weigh more than an elk in an area with scarce resources.
The habitat in which elk live can also affect their weight, as it influences the availability and quality of food sources. Elk that live in rich, abundant habitats tend to be heavier than those living in more challenging environments.
Genetics play a role in determining the size and weight of an elk, with some being predisposed to grow larger or smaller than average, depending on their genetic makeup.
Average Weight of an Elk by Age
Elk weight can change drastically as they grow and mature. Here is a general breakdown of elk weights by age:
- Calf (0-1 year): 100-250 pounds (45-110 kg)
- Yearling (1-2 years): 250-450 pounds (110-200 kg)
- Adult (2+ years): 450-1100 pounds (200-500 kg)
Weight of Elk Subspecies
Below is the weight of six elk subspecies:
Found in California, Tule elk are smaller compared to other subspecies. Bulls weigh 400-800 pounds (180-365 kg), and cows weigh 300-500 pounds (135-225 kg).
Rocky Mountain Elk
The most common subspecies, these elk are found in the Rocky Mountains and surrounding areas. Bull Rocky Mountain elk typically weigh 700-1,100 pounds (320-500 kg), while cows weigh 500-600 pounds (225-275 kg).
Native to the Pacific Northwest, Roosevelt elk are larger than their Rocky Mountain counterparts. Male Roosevelts weigh around 900-1,200 pounds (410-545 kg), and cows weigh 600-700 pounds (275-320 kg).
The Merriam Elk used to be domiciled in the Southwest United States, specifically in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. They are now extinct. Their scientific name is Cervus canadensis merriami.
The Manitoban Elk, as the name suggests, is found in Manitoba and areas of Saskatchewan, as well as the Great Lakes States. An adult male Manitoban elk weighs around 288 to 478 kilograms (635 to 1,054 lb). The females are lighter and have an average weight of 606 pounds (275 kg).
How much does an elk quarter weigh?
Elk meat is typically divided into four main quarters: the front quarter, hind quarter, backstrap, and tenderloin. The approximate weights for these quarters are:
- Front Quarter: 50-80 pounds (23-36 kg)
- Hind Quarter: 60-100 pounds (27-45 kg)
- Backstrap: 15-30 pounds (7-14 kg)
- Tenderloin: 5-10 pounds (2-5 kg)
Other Related Questions
What is the Heaviest Elk Ever Recorded?
The heaviest elk ever recorded was a bull elk found in the Boone and Crockett Club records, which weighed an astonishing 1,108 pounds (502 kg). This massive elk is a testament to the size these animals can reach in the wild.
How Much Does an Elk Antler Weigh?
Elk antlers can weigh up to 40 pounds (18 kg) for large bulls, adding a significant amount of weight to the animal. The weight of antlers varies depending on their size and branching complexity.
How Much Does an Average Bull Elk Weigh?
An average adult bull elk weighs between 700 to 1100 pounds (320 to 500 kg), with larger individuals found in the Rocky Mountain region.
How Much Does an Average Cow Elk Weigh?
An average adult cow elk weighs between 500 to 600 pounds (225 to 270 kg).
If you have time, please check other interesting articles about deer on our website: