water troughs and feed bunks. The
Hawai’i Cattle Producers Cooperative
coordinates the shipping. It takes
yearlings seven days by sea to reach
Seattle, Washington. They arrive in
mid-April, and then graze Oregon
pastures through autumn.
Shipping costs shrink the profi ts
of Hawai’ian ranchers. Because of
this, Moore targets niche markets to
increase sale price: naturally fed, non-
GMO, non-hormone treated (NHTC),
age-source verifi ed, and Global Animal
Partnership (GAP) certifi ed. Kealia
Ranch also retains ownership of 75 percent
of its yearlings until retail through
the Country Natural Beef co-op. “There
is risk,” Moore says of retained ownership.
“We recently had a 1,200-pound
steer die. I raised him, I shipped him, I
fed him, I almost fi nished him, and he
died. The death loss report marked it as
an unknown cause.”
Country Natural Beef’s meat processor
formerly kept Hawai’ian beef
separate from its mainland beef. This
allowed co-op members to bring
Hawai’i beef back to the islands and
market it as locally raised to restaurants
and grocery stores. The processor
no longer separates Hawai’ian beef. But
many island customers still purchase
from Country Natural Beef, because 20
percent of its beef originates in Hawai’i.
Similarly, the Hawai’i Cattle
Producers Cooperative led a successful
locally grass-fed veal program,
Hawai’ian Red Veal, for many years
Sara Moore began working on the Kealia
Ranch in 1989. In college she wanted to study
ethnobotany, but she ended up with a degree
in agriculture and horticulture. She didn’t
grow up on a ranch or farm; her parents were
in the medical fi eld. But her grandfathers
both worked in the Hawai’ian sugar cane industry.
“I returned to agriculture,” she says.
“I’m just passionate about beef and Hawai’i.”
Pumping stations and holding/catchment tanks move water via gravity fl ow around Kealia Ranch.
The Kealia stocks cattle at its drought capacity only. The 2010 drought on the Big Island holds the
stocking rate marker at 400 pairs. “We had a dry season from October until May,” Moore recalls.
“Here in Hawai’i there isn’t affordable supplemental feed. We just opened up all the gates on the
ranch and let the cattle browse where they could. They ate a lot more brush than normal. We are
very limited on marketing and taking cows to slaughter here. When we have a drought like that,
there’s no way for us to sell stock. It was a really hard year for the whole island.”
JUNE / JULY 2019 I WORKING RANCH I 73