Ranching and Raising Beef Island Style

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As we all know, the summer rodeo season is in full effect in the US, but here on the island of Kauai there is just one big rodeo. The Koloa Plantation Days Rodeo is held in July, and that’s the only rodeo until July rolls around again next year. Rodeos bring to mind cattle, so naturally we are going to talk about shipping cattle and raising beef island style. Where let’s just be honest, cattle work never looked so good.

Some of you may or may not know most of the island's beef is imported. Now you’re probably thinking why is that? It seems there is a lot of cattle grazing on the many green pasture ranches in Hawaii. Which is absolutely true, but here is what most people don’t know when it comes to cattle ranching in Hawaii.

Ranchers here would love to keep their cattle here and raise them to maturity here on the island, however, real estate land lease here in Hawaii is becoming just way to expensive and slowly becoming unavailable because of new land developments. Therefore, for many years most local ranchers here on the island were forced to sell and ship their cattle away to the mainland to gain weight and be fattened. These Hawaiian cowboys watched the hard work they put into raising these cattle-their money and good local beef-sail away. “We take what we can get,” said local Rancher Ryan Rivera.

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Loading up cattle into shipping container at Kunoa Cattle Company.

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“For a lot of the small island ranchers here, it is just a lot cheaper to ship the cattle away to the mainland than sending corn feed here to Hawaii to finish them off,” Rivera said. “Feed is just way too expensive as well,” he said. “Most small ranchers don’t have that kind of money here. For some small ranchers here on the island ranching has become just a side hobby.”






Cattle shipping container used to ship overseas. 

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Wa’alani trucking backs up to a two level cattle container to send to barge where cattle will be shipped to Cali feed lots to go on an hay alfalfa diet to gain weight. 

However, Bobby Farias, a third generation rancher here on Kauai and Co-Owner of Kunoa cattle company Kunoa which means “Stand Free” is making some changes. 

Experiencing first hand the situation, he co-founded Kunoa Cattle Company to reverse the method of cattle being shipped out to the mainland with the goal of keeping local beef here on the islands for a lower cost. Kunoa cattle company has purchased the largest butchery on the island of Oahu to help support local ranchers and to provide another way to keep the Kauai beef here on Kauai.

Kunoa believes as stated of their website, “At Kunoa, we believe we can energize Hawaii’s ag industry. There are tens of thousands of world-class, pasture-raised cattle raised in Hawaii. We hope to keep more of them here, raise them to maturity - healthily and humanely—and keep jobs, food, revenue, and this premium resource, right here in Hawaii.”

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I had a fun day spent out in the saddle at Kunoa cattle company, rounding up about 50 head of bulls and moving them to another pasture to graze on.

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The beef market has changed, and there is a very high demand for local grown, grass fed meat here in Hawaii. I’m excited to see this operation grow, and see local ranchers come together to preserve our ranching lifestyle here on Kauai.

Ranching in style with Kimes Ranch Jeans


Joelle Souza

The Aloha Cowgirl


Kunoa Cattle Company kauai, Hawaii

Kimes Ranch Lizzie Chambray top

Kimes Ranch jeans- Francesca’s