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A Steak in the Local Economy

In Hawaii, 85 percent of calves are shipped to the mainland, said Pu`u O Hoku Ranch General Manager Jann Roney. They’re raised and butchered, and the finished product is not always sent back to the islands. However, like others around the state in recent years, Molokai ranches and businesses are working to keep the full cattle operation at home.

Molokai Ranch

Last August, Molokai Ranch launched its 100 percent grass-fed beef in an effort to establish its new pillars of animal husbandry and sustainability, said Operations Manager Dathan Bicoy.

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Prepared beef dish from Molokai Ranch. Photo by Laura Pilz.

About 1,800 cattle graze 30,000 acres of pasture in Maunaloa. Over the last two years, the ranch has been introducing Wagyu cattle DNA into their herd. They now have a small herd of 28 purebred Wagyu and 17 half-breed Angus and Wagyu, said Bicoy.

“Wagyu is supposedly a lot more tender and marbled, and it’s just really one of your highest quality beef,” explained Ranch Project Coordinator Malia Kino.

The cattle are sent to Molokai Livestock Cooperative, the island’s only slaughterhouse, as well as to Wong’s Market on Oahu for specific cuts of meat.

Since they’re trying to grow their small herd, it will be a few years before the ranch can produce Wagyu beef. However, Angus is available at the ranch’s Maunaloa office Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Molokai residents get a 10 percent discount, and Molokai businesses get 20 percent off the resident price. A top sirloin steak, for example, sells off island at $9.99/lb. Molokai residents pay $8.99 and businesses pay $7.19. Kino said the ranch’s local vendors include Kualapuu Cookhouse, Paddler’s Inn and Hometown Kitchen.

For more information, call Molokai Ranch at 552-2444.

Pu`u O Hoku Ranch

Four years ago, the family owned and operated ranch expanded its calf and cow operations to “help reverse the exporting of Hawaiian grown cattle to the mainland,” said Roney.

Instead of shipping calves out of state, the ranch keeps them on Molokai and raises them as “feeders,” which can range from 400-800 pounds. They’re then sent to Pu`u O Hoku-owned land on Oahu to be “finished,” growing from 800-1200 pounds before being butchered on Oahu.

Roney explained that no chemicals are sprayed on their land. Both pasture and cattle—mainly Brangus mixed with Devon—are certified organic. The ranch sells its prime-grade grass-fed beef at its store, located at the 25-mile marker on the east end, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. every day except for Sunday and Wednesday, as well as at the new Simply Natural store in town. Roney said the ranch produces approximately 45,000 pounds of finished beef yearly.

For more information, call Pu`u O Hoku Ranch at 558-8109.

Molokai Livestock Cooperative

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MLC is the island’s only slaughterhouse and a local purveyor of beef. Photo by Eileen Chao.

Thanks to Molokai’s only slaughterhouse, ranchers can keep their products on island. Molokai Livestock Cooperative (MLC) purchases antibiotic- and hormone-free cattle from 10 local ranchers, then butchers and sells it, said General Manager Jack Spruance. They produce 12 to 15 head per week.

Located next to Hikiola, MLC sells beef as well as pasture-raised pork Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Residents can call and order a cut or quantity ahead of time. MLC offers everything from marrow bones to porterhouse steak.  One of its most popular products, stew meat, costs $4.65/lb, ground beef costs $4.25/lb and chuck roast $5.05/lb.

“We offer any cut that people want,” said Spruance. “We do custom work for people, so if they want their own meat cut up for them we provide [that service].”

For more information, call MLC at 567-6994.

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