Enhancing the sustainability of grass-fed beef production in Hawaii via carcass and meat quality improvement

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2013: $49,948.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Yong soo Kim
University of Hawaii

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: free-range, grazing management, grazing - rotational, stocking rate
  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: extension

    Proposal abstract:

    Interest in locally-produced, grass-fed beef has increased tremendously among the general public, chefs and the agricultural community in Hawaii as a sustainable model for beef production and also to increase the level of food self-sufficiency for the isolated island state. Despite this interest, our studies and others have shown that meat quality of grass-fed beef is inconsistent, often leading to consumer dissatisfaction for this product. If the quality inconsistency of grass-fed beef persists, it can quickly diminish consumer demand for this product, affecting long-term economic sustainability of grass-fed beef production. Therefore, ranchers, university researchers and extension agents are teaming up to address this challenge. The limiting element in developing strategies of improving carcass and meat quality characteristics of grass-fed beef in Hawaii is the lack of information on the nutritional quality of pastures on which grass-fed beef are produced, along with limited information on carcass and meat quality characteristics of the cattle finished on that pasture. In this project, nutritional quality of various pastures, along with carcass and meat quality characteristics of cattle finished on those pastures will be measured in an effort to develop strategies of best management practices for the production of high and consistent quality of grass-fed beef. Our cumulative data indicates that University of Hawaii (UH) cattle finished on pasture at the Mealani research station have superior genetic potential for high quality grass-fed beef production; showing consistently more than 50% of carcasses being better than Choice quality grade. Thus, another objective of the project is to examine whether the genetic resource of UH cattle can be used to improve quality characteristic of grass-fed beef in Hawaii. Another important element of the project will be outreach activities designed to disseminate findings related to grass-fed beef and its production to farmers, industry and other stakeholders through various workshops and field days.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Year 1-2

    1) Evaluate growth performance, carcass and meat quality characteristics of pasture-finished cattle in selected local ranches of Hawaii

    2) Evaluate characteristics of pastures on which cattle are finished

    Year 2-3

    1) Evaluate the growth performance, carcass and meat quality characteristics of UH cattle in selected commercial ranches producing pasture-finished cattle in Hawaii

    2) Evaluate the interaction between the pasture quality and management and carcass and meat quality characteristics

    3) Disseminate information related to pasture-finishing cattle through outreach activities

    Year 3

    1) Identify strategies for ranches to improve carcass and meat quality characteristics of pasture-finished cattle in Hawaii

    2) Identify barriers of ranches to adopt the strategy, if any

    3) Communicate findings of the study to ranchers at annual industry meeting and field day

    4) Develop best management practices of pasture-finished beef production

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.