A comprehensive life cycle assessment of the US 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, and marketing. Ranch survey responses represented 44% of the state's beef cows 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 the majority of those operations finished 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 clandestinum (kikuyugrass), Digitaria eriantha (pangola or digitgrass), and Trifolium repens (white clover). Reported cow and finished cattle BW were 498 ± 52 kg and 493 ± 75 kg, respectively. More ranchers marketed their beef cattle through wholesalers or distributors (34%) rather than directly to consumers (24%), retailers (20%), or other channels (17%). Marketing under grass-fed certification was reported by 39% 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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology