Fences are extremely expensive because posts
must be jackhammered or drilled into the lava.
Sara Moore checks in with Jordan Medeiros,
the fencing contractor hired to replace
damaged fences (Kealia Ranch received USDA
emergency grant funding to replace fencing
damaged by acid rain from volcanic gas
emission (VOG) caused from the 2018 eruptions
of the K͘lauea volcano). The bottom strand
of barbed wire keeps wild pigs from rooting
through the fence. To meet federal funding
specs, the top wire is smooth. This is because
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists
determined the endangered Hawai’ian Hoary
bat gets stuck in barbed wire fences.
animals to Oahu for processing too,
but it is logistically diffi cult.
To ease the bottleneck of processing
and to help small producers, the
Big Island Resource Conservation and
Development Council purchased a
mobile meat processing unit fully
contained inside a shipping container
set on a gooseneck trailer frame.
The Hawai’i Island Meat Cooperative
now manages the unit. “It’s been six
years in the making and we’re still
not at full operation,” says Moore,
who serves on the co-op board. “The
regulations are daunting.”
The operating plan for the mobile
unit would employ a head butcher
and assistant butcher. A person
at each ranch location would be
required to help process its livestock.
The mobile unit has operated, on a
limited basis, for two years under a
U.S. Department of Agriculture conditional
grant of inspection. The
Hawai’i Department of Health has yet
to clear it for full operation because of
solid waste management.
“There is no rendering in Hawai’i,”
Moore explains, “Offal must be hauled
across the island to the Big Island’s
two landfi lls. There’s dumping and
tonnage fees; certain access times;
and a solid waste permit is required.
We propose four composting sites
around the island. The health department
is concerned about the waste
water, because our lava doesn’t absorb
moisture. Everything eventually runs
to the ocean. I’m trying to design a
composting system that prevents
runoff and infi ltration of the waste
water by turning it into something
Kealia hands move cattle and horses up and down the ranch
in 6x6 military vehicles, because the steep terrain requires
low-gear engines. “The guys always remind
me to not latch my door,” Moore says of
driving up and down the ranch road.
“They tell me, ‘My brakes aren’t so
good. You may have to bail.’”
JUNE / JULY 2019 I WORKING RANCH I 75