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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345798

Research Project: Mitigating Emissions and Adapting Farm Systems to Climate Variability

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Management characteristics of beef cattle production in Hawaii

Author
item Rotz, Clarence - Al
item Asem-hiablie, Senorpe
item Sandlin, J - Consultant
item Sandlin, M'randa - University Of Hawaii
item Stout, Robert

Submitted to: Professional Animal Scientist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/7/2017
Publication Date: 4/1/2018
Citation: Rotz, C.A., Asem-Hiablie, S., Sandlin, J.D., Sandlin, M.R., Stout, R.C. 2018. Management characteristics of beef cattle production in Hawaii. Professional Animal Scientist. 34(2):167-176. https://doi.org/10.15232/pas.2017-01691.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15232/pas.2017-01691

Interpretive Summary: With abundant, year-round availability of pasture, beef cattle production is an important component of agriculture in Hawaii. Because of its distant location and unique ecosystem, cattle production practices differ considerably from that of the mainland. Currently, most of the calves are exported to the mainland for finishing, and processed beef is imported back to the islands. To obtain more sustainable food production, there is a need to finish and process more cattle within the state. A survey of Hawaii beef producers was conducted to gather information on management practices with the goal of developing more sustainable production systems. These data are being used to establish a baseline for available forage and feed sources and cattle management characteristics as Hawaii prepares to double its local food production to meet the state’s sustainability goals.

Technical Abstract: A comprehensive life cycle assessment of the United States’ beef value chain requires the collection of region-specific data for accurate characterization of the country’s diverse production practices. Cattle production in Hawaii is very different from the rest of the country due to its unique ecosystem and geographic location. A survey of cattle producers provided information on herd size and characteristics, grazing management, forage and feed sources, production costs, and marketing. Ranch survey responses represented 44% of the beef cows in the state with operation sizes varying from 5 to 10,000 cows. Most cows (79%) were maintained on operations that finished at least some of their cattle, and most of those operations finished their cattle on forage without concentrate feeds. Cattle were kept on natural pastures ranging in size from 16 to 52,610 ha per ranch with a stocking rate of 2.4 ha/cow on cow-calf operations and 2.0 ha/animal on operations that included older growing animals. Common forage species were Panicum maximum (Guinea or green panic grass), Pennisetum clandentinum (Kikuyu grass), Digitaria eriantha (Pangola or digit grass) and Trifolium repens (White clover). Cow and finished cattle BW were 498 ± 52 kg and 493 ± 75 kg, respectively. More ranchers marketed their beef cattle through wholesalers or distributors than directly to consumers or retailers. Marketing under grass-fed certification was reported by 41% of ranches. Information obtained is being used to define management characteristics for modeling production systems and performing a comprehensive assessment of the sustainability of beef cattle production.