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A Field Day for Ranching Education

February 8, 2019

In late January, we welcomed more than 20 ranchers to our Kauai ranching operations as part of the 2019 Hawaii Grazing and Livestock Management Academy, an educational outreach program of the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH/CTAHR) - Cooperative Extension. The “field day” was one part of the three-day program offered every few years across Hawaii to help new and existing ranchers learn how to improve pastures and grazing management.

Mark S. Thorne, Ph.D., a State Range and Livestock Extension Specialist with UH/CTAHR, led the program. During the visit, participants walked the pastures, identified grasses, and discussed the different forages and stages of production, as well as grazing practices. They walked through methods to estimate stocking rate, sampled forages for productivity and quality, and practiced methods to monitor condition and trend in pastures. Finally, they discussed the composition and structure of forage communities and how they influenced animal grazing behavior.

“We work with ranchers such as Kunoa to provide a hands-on education in the field that allows us to cover a variety of valuable topics with our participants,” said Mark. “The goal is to help participants understand, develop and manage economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable livestock production systems.”

Quality ranching education like this is a building block to improving food security in Hawaii. The program’s website explains it well:

“Lack of experience, training, and financial capital often prevent existing producers from expanding operations and limits the ability for new producers to enter into the industry. With proper training and experience the overall risk assumed by the producer is reduced and public and private lenders are more likely to provide the necessary financial support for producers to expand or start new operations.”

“We are pleased to continue our participation with the Hawaii Grazing and Livestock Management Academy and support enhanced education about pasture-raised Hawaii cattle for our ranchers and communities,” said Bobby Farias, founder and president of Kunoa. “The more we understand healthy ranching and grazing practices, the better we can sustainably feed Hawaii in ways that serve the best interests of our communities, animals and environment.”

The program is funded through the Renewable Resources Extension Act under the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, with additional support from the Hawaii Grazing Land Conservation Initiative. For $30, participants receive 10 hours of lecture and five hours of demonstrations and field experience, as well as printed course materials, a 2.4-square-foot forage clipping ring, clippers/hand sickle, and a scale for clipping and weighing forage samples.

If you’d like to learn more about the program, visit https://manoa.hawaii.edu/ctahr/tpalm/index.html.