Posts belonging to Category Pasture-Raised Beef Hawaii

What’s New at the Mealani Research Station?

Located on the wet side of Waimea, the University of Hawai‘i’s at Manoa (UHM) Mealani Research Station is where Taste of the Hawaiian Range was founded. A leader in grass-fed beef research, the facility investigates and demonstrates several products for island farmers and ranchers to use.

Current research projects include propagation of healthy food system products—grass-fed beef, blueberries and tea; forage and grasses for grass-finished livestock; growing of alternative crops like tropical varieties of peaches; field education for culinary students and beef cattle artificial insemination/cow breeding for UH animal science or pre-veterinary students.

Year-long pasture trials for grass-fed beef

Grass-fed animals at Mealani Research Station

Grass-fed animals at Mealani Research Station

New, year-long grass-fed beef trials are underway involving three different controlled pasturing systems for 36 animals. According to Mealani Farm Manager Marla Fergerstrom, the goal of the project is to “study stocking density on pasture and its effect on animal performance and carcass quality.” The study determines the rotation of the animals by the measurement of forage available for the animals to consume under the trial’s conditions. The trials began January 2015 with 12 market animals per treatment group. These animals will be slaughtered at the end of the 12-month period and their carcasses analyzed for quality.

“The trial will continue for the next few years so we will have several years of data,” shares Fergerstrom. “Carcasses from the harvested animals will be evaluated. Data collected will include weight, quality grade and at a later date, shear testing, which is a measure of tenderness.

Typically, cattle at Mealani are raised using an intensive grazing technique that involves daily rotation of separate groups of steers (market animals), heifers (young females) and mama cows/calves among paddocks so each group of animal is always digesting the same part of the grass stalk. Steers consume the top of the grass, which has the highest protein content to help the animal put on the most weight, followed by heifers that eat the middle of the stalk and cow/calves that consume the bottom and get the most fiber. Mealani manages a herd of 150 animals on about 145 acres this way, which allows the maximum use of a consistent type of forage for the grazing animals.

In the new trials, there are 36 animals split among three “treatments” that each offer a different controlled pasturing technique. One puts 12 animals in six acres to graze continually only in that acreage. The second treatment puts 12 animals in an acre-and-a-half pen and they’re moved based on the available forage during the grazing period in that area to where forage is available. The third treatment splits six acres into one-acre pens and 12 cattle are rotated in the same manner as the second group. The trial involves steers and heifers.

Cover crop project to control erosion, amend soil

Non-dormancy blueberries

Non-dormancy blueberries

Mealani recently completed a cover crop project to evaluate different plant species that can be used by farmers to prevent erosion and improve soil fertility in our tropical climate. The project involved two trial treatments—till or no till—using the same seed selection of lablab, hairy vetch, rye grass, velvet bean, radish, soybean and cow pea.

“For the till treatment, we mowed the crop and left the plant material to degrade in the plots, including the roots,” details Fergerstrom. “In the no-till treatment, the crop was allowed to continue growing.”

Soil samples were taken prior to the start of the project and at its completion. However, results aren’t yet available.

Mealani continues its research on growing non-dormancy or evergreen blueberries under cover in a hot house. Technicians, under the direction of researchers, are working on refining pruning techniques on 100 plants to better fruit production and reduce the incidence of disease, such as rust. Started in 2005, the goal is to investigate the development of blueberries as an alternative, high value crop for farmers.

For more information on the Mealani Research Station and Hawai‘i agricultural research, visit


Where to Get Pasture-Raised Beef on Hawai‘i Island: Retailers, Restaurants and Resorts

By Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range

Retailers are listed in bold.

Info is subject to change. This list is alphabetized and divided into geographic areas for convenience. Check with resorts for specific restaurants serving pasture-raised beef. This list was compiled by contacting those listed—however, some locations may have been inadvertently missed. To have your biz put on this list, kindly email Updated 7.2015. Mahalo!


Grandma’s Kitchen, Honoka’a-775-9943
Green Café, Honoka’ai-775-0004
JJ’s Country Market, Honoka‘a-775-7744
Tex Drive In, Honoka‘a-775-0598
The Landing, Honoka’a-775-0888

Bueno Burrito-930-6565
Café Pesto-969-6640
Don’s Grill-935-9099
Hilo Bay Café-935-4939
Island Naturals Market & Deli-935-5533
KTA Super Stores: Puainako St.- 959-9111, Keawe St.-935-3751

East Hawai‘i-South
Foodland, Kea‘au-966-9316
Island Naturals Market & Deli, Pahoa-965-8322
J Hara Store, Kuristown-966-5462
Kaleo’s Restaurant, Pahoa-965-5600
Malama Market, Pahoa-965-2105
Verna’s Too, Mountain View-968-8774
Volcano Store, Volcano Village-967-7210 


Meheʻs Ka‘u Bar & Grill, Ocean View-929-7200
Shaka Restaurant & Bar, Naʻalehu-929-7404


North Kohala/KawaihaeTommyBahama 2014-244
Big Island Brewhaus, Waimea-887-1717
Blue Dragoon, Kawaihae-882-7771
Café Pesto, Kawaihae-882-1071
Figs Mix Plate, Kapa‘au-889-1989
Hawai‘i Island Retreat, Kapa‘au-889-6336
Kahua Ranch, North Kohala-882-4646
Kohala Burger & Taco, Kawaihae Shopping Center-880-1923
M. Nakahara Store, Hawi-889-6359
Minnie’s ‘Ohana Lim Style, Kapa‘au-889-5288
Sushi Rock, Hawi-889-5900
Takata Store, Hawi-889-5261

Dano-o’s Dönor-333-2322
Earl’s Waimea-887-1800
Healthways II, Parker Ranch Center-885-6775
KTA Super Store-885-8866
Paniolo Country Inn-885-4377
The Fish & The Hog Market Cafe-885-6268
Village Burger, Parker Ranch Center-885-7319

Kohala Coast/Waikoloa Village:Hapuna
The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i, Kohala Coast-885-2000
Foodland Farms, Shops at Mauna Lani-887-6101
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Ka‘upulehu-325-8000
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, Kohala Coast-880-1111
Island Gourmet Market, Waikoloa Queens’ MarketPlace-886-3577
Lava Lava Beach Club, ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay, 769-5282
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kohala Coast, 882-7222
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Kohala Coast-885-6622
Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill, Waikoloa Kings’ Shops-886-4321
Tommy’s Bahama Restaurant & Bar, Shops at Mauna Lani-881-8686
Waikoloa Village Market, Waikoloa Highlands Center-883-1088

Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers, Kainaliu-324-6000
Choice Mart Super Market, Captain Cook-323-3994
Daylight Mind Coffee Co., Waterfront Row, Kailua-Kona-329-7824
Harbor House, Honokohau Marina-326-4166
Holuakoa Café, Holualoa-322-2233
Island Lava Java Bistro & Grill, Kailua-Kona-327-2161
Kona Brew Pub, Kailua-Kona-334-2739
Island Naturals Market & Deli: Kailua-Kona-326-1122, Kainaliu-930-7550
KTA Super Stores: Kailua-Kona-329-1677, Keauhou-322-2311
Mahina Café, Captain Cook-323-3200
Mi’s Italian Bistro, Captain Cook-323-3880SamChoysCUlinary
Sam Choy’s Kai Lanai, Keauhou Shopping Center-333-3434
Sandy’s Drive In, Kainaliu-322-2161
Ultimate Burger, Kailua-Kona-329-2326

To Purchase Beef in Bulk:

Hawaii Beef Producers, Pa‘auilo-776-1109 or JJ’s Country Market, Honoka‘a-775-7744
Kahua Ranch, North Kohala-882-4646
Kulana Foods, Hilo-959-9144

Taste of the Hawaiian Range Tips for Purchasing Big Isle Pasture-Raised Beef:

Save the Date:

10.9.2015 for Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range at the Hilton Waikoloa Village:


Chefs Pair with Specific Ranches and Farms

As shared in our last blog, Taste offers a new presentation format for seven culinary stations (out of a total of 30). Seven chefs will be paired with meat from a specific ranch and produce from a specific farm and they will be out on the Lagoon Lanai. These food “players” will be identified by signage at their culinary stations for attendees. Event chair Jeri Moniz says the purpose for the pairings is to foster more communication between food producers and the user of their products—chefs.  We checked in with more of the partnered ranchers and chefs to get their take on the challenges of providing local beef and the benefits of using it.

KK Ranch with The Feeding Leaf

Rancher Jason Moniz

Rancher Jason Moniz with Tee
Credit: Photo courtesy KK Ranch

KK Ranch is located near Kalopa/Pa‘auilo and has a herd of 700 cows on 5,200 acres on the Hamakua Coast. Rancher Jason Moniz says KK is predominately a cow-calf operation that finishes most of its animals on the Mainland through the Country Natural Beef cooperative program, meaning the cattle are fed a combination of pasture and other natural products with no added hormones or antibiotics. KK keeps and finishes some of its herd here on the Big Isle for local consumption, including 50 animals in 2013.

In the business for 26 years, Moniz says the biggest challenge for keeping local beef at home is increasing feed for cattle here on island. There aren’t many places where the weather is conducive to produce adequate forage year round. He says this not only applies to Hawai‘i, but also to the Mainland U.S.

“We’ve been working to get reasonable prices for water from the Hamakua Ditch so we can irrigate pasture,” he detailed. “A bill recently passed that cuts the price in half so hopefully, between irrigation and rainfall, we can keep the grass growing.”

Partnering with KK Ranch at Taste is a new event planning and catering partnership, The Feeding Leaf. The company’s head

Chef Scott Hiraishi

Chef Scott Hiraishi of The Feeding Leaf
Credit: Photo by Anna Pacheco

honcho in the kitchen is Chef Scott Hiraishi, who earned his culinary chops working under Chef Sam Choy and while at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai and the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

A life-long, Hawai‘i resident, Hiraishi has spent the last few years building relationships with Big Isle food producers and collaborating with Kamehameha Schools Land Asset Division in their farm-to-table initiatives. He says he prefers to use food grown here and will tweak the menu to use local products, rather than sourcing from afar. “I want to support the local economy,” he shares.

Chef Scott says local, pasture-raised beef is flavorful but he has been challenged to get enough. “It’s hard to keep up with the available quantity,” he explains. “A rancher only slaughters so many animals at one time, so there’s a limit to the quantity of certain cuts.”

Chef Scott is assigned skirt steak at Taste and is preparing it miso-grilled on ginger rice. He will marinade it for a day in a base of miso, ginger, sugar, vinegar and mirin (rice wine). Then he’ll grill the steak medium rare atop coals and served on ginger rice prepared with ginger, green onion and cilantro.

Aloha Monday with Ernest DeLuz Ranch

Also located on the Hamakua Coast, Ernest DeLuz Ranch is a four-generation operation named after its patriarch, Ernest DeLuz. Son Stephen serves as ranch manager and oversees a herd of 1400 breeding cows for the cow-calf operation and 300 animals that are finished on grass for local consumption.

Stephen, who studied agriculture at Hawai‘i Community College-Hilo, says the ranch uses 7,000 acres and rotates cattle among pastures. “When the weather is good, finishing cattle on grass is easy; but when it’s dry, it gets tough.” The ranch stepped up its production of grass-fed animals about 10-15 years ago to satisfy a growing demand in the local market. “Dad always did some grass-fed animals, but as popularity for the product grew, we kept more at home.”

In partnership with Kamehameha Schools, the ranch is doing some experimenting with irrigation and Leucaena, a high protein, small tree used for cattle fodder.

“The price has gone up for our weaned cows on the Mainland but we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” shares DeLuz. “Dad wants to continue supporting the local market and see how it goes.”

Chef Kanoa Miura

Chef Kanoa Miura of Aloha Mondays
Credit: Photo courtesy Aloha Mondays

Aloha Mondays is a unique culinary business, offering meal pickup from its Hilo kitchen while also providing catering services. Chef/owner Kanoa Miura hails from Mililani on O’ahu and got into the business while majoring in art at UH-Hilo. As a student, he worked at a restaurant cleaning fish and had friends over on his day off for “Aloha Mondays.” His college parties and love for catering “to anyone around him” grew into a passion for the culinary arts and jobs at Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill and the Flying Fish in Seattle. He opened Aloha Mondays in 2005.

Miura prefers using local products for their freshness, uniqueness and effort in supporting our economy. He says the benefits of using local, pasture-raised beef are “ethical, as well as healthier and we look up to Kulana Foods as a successful business practicing more sustainably.” Chef adds, “Now and again you get a customer who is not used to the taste…but that’s the food business; you can’t make everyone happy, you just gotta go with what you believe in, stand by it and smile.”

Assigned Top Round from Ernest DeLuz Ranch, Miura is preparing Hawaiian-Style Top Round Poke on ‘Uala Chips. He will marinate the meat in a locally brewed barley wine before grilling and seasoning with classic Hawaiian-style poke ingredients. He’ll serve with Aloha Monday’s house-made sweet potato chips. Chef adds, “Top round tends to be a tougher cut so the barley wine is perfect as a marinade to tenderize the meat and add great flavor.”


Taste to Pair Seven Chefs with Specific Ranches and Farms

New this year is a presentation format for seven culinary stations (out of a total of 30). Seven chefs will be paired with meat from a specific ranch and produce from a specific farm and they will be out on the Lagoon Lanai. These food “players” will be identified by signage at their culinary stations for attendees. Event chair Jeri Moniz says the purpose for the pairings is to foster more communication between food producers and the user of their products—chefs.  We checked in with some of the partnered ranchers and chefs to get their take on the challenges of providing local beef and the benefits of using it.

Triple D Ranch with Village Burger

De Luz Ranchers

Antone and Duane De Luz, photos courtesy Duane De Luz

Duane De Luz of Triple D Ranch manages 600 acres between two locations: O‘okala and Honokaia (between Honoka‘a and Kukuihaele). The family operation has been committed to 100 percent grass-fed beef since it started in 1906.

Triple D typically delivers 70 steers and heifers to market annually, overseeing up to 180 animals at any one time in their grass-fed finishing program. DeLuz says they farm a variety of forage that produces well at their two locations: pangola, star and guinea grasses, plus legumes like clover and plantation peanut. The fourth generation rancher says proper pasture management and rotation of herds is key to being successful.

“While prices for wean-offs (calves) to finish on the Mainland are high, we keep ours at home,” says Duane. “By keeping our animals here, we’re feeding the local community and ensuring jobs are here to process and distribute the beef. We are happy to support our fellow local businesses.”

With the motto, “Supporting our Island Ranchers, One Hamburger at a Time,” Chef Edwin Goto of Village Burger has made

Chef Edwin Goto

Chef Edwin Goto of Village Burger. Photo courtesy of Edwin Goto

local food sustainability the mantra at his Parker Ranch Center restaurant in Waimea. He does local in a big way by using ingredients that he can source “close to home” and listing them on the wall for hungry customers to see.

“I buy local beef because it’s in our backyard,” Goto, a long-time executive chef, explains. “It’s convenient and supports our local ranches.” He says pasture-raised beef produces burgers that are juicy and not greasy, so “you feel good after you eat them.”

Chef combines chuck and brisket to make his delicious burgers. For this year’s Taste, he’s assigned beef chuck roll to prepare and is thinking about doing something unique with it. “Maybe I’ll braise it and make a pot roast, or a unique meat loaf, perhaps with an Asian twist,” he muses.

Ponoholo Ranch with Chef Allen Hess of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows

Sabrina White and Pono von Holt

Sabrina White and Pono von Holt of Ponoholo Ranch. Photo courtesy of people pictured.

Ponoholo Ranch is located along Kohala Mountain Road in Kapa‘au. With 11,000 acres it is the isle’s second largest ranch with range running from the mountain to the sea. The ranch generally runs a herd of 4,500 to 5,000 animals, but due to past drought, it currently has a herd of 3,000 mother cows, according to president Sabrina White.

Principally a cow-calf operation, Ponoholo ships the bulk of its animals to be finished on the Mainland. Some are finished and marketed as pasture-raised beef through the Country Natural Beef program, meaning they are fed a combination of pasture, potatoes and other natural products with no added hormones or antibiotics. Other animals are processed through the commodity beef market.

The ranch also “keeps a couple 100 head here” for finishing on grass.

“I feel pretty good to be able to provide for our local market, as long as the local market can support it,” says White, a third-generation rancher with a degree in animal science. “It has to make economic sense to keep our cattle here.”

She explains, “Beef prices on the Mainland are currently at a record high. Hawai’i needs to keep up and raise the price. We’ll support our local retailers because they are coming around to raising prices, but eventually there’s a breaking point…and then we’ll sell to the Mainland.”

Chef Allen Hess

Chef Allen Hess of the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel. Photo courtesy of Allen Hess.

Chef Allen Hess is a long-time supporter of local beef; he used it while working at Merriman’s, Alan Wong’s Hualalai Grill and Allen’s Table, and now at Mauna Lani’s CanoeHouse.

“Local beef is tasty,” he says, adding he supports efforts to continue to improve the product’s consistency in quality as he can get a good New York Strip steak and filet mignon, but has “trouble getting a good ribeye.”

During Taste, Chef Hess is assigned beef tri-tip. “I’ll beak it down (trim to get the lean meat) and make a tri tip furikake stuffed in a clear cone sushi.” Furikake is a flavorful, dry seasoning typically sprinkled on top of rice—considered the salt and pepper of Japan, it’s crunchy, salty and briny with a hint of seafood. Chef will also do a beef nacho on homemade shrimp chips.

Tix for Taste are available online or at 12 islandwide locations. Visit


A Look at CTAHR’s Mealani Research Station and 2014 Project Updates

Open since the 1960’s, the Mealani Research Station is part of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). It’s located in Waimea, Hawai’i Island and investigates and demonstrates products for island farmers and ranchers to use. It’s where Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range began in 1996.

Current Research Projects:

  • Healthy food system products: tea; blueberries; grass-fed beef
  • Forage and pasture grasses for grass-finished livestock
  • Disease tolerance and resistance evaluation of protea, sweet and grain corn
  • Alternative crops: peaches, persimmon, surinam and bing-type cherries
  • Field education of culinary students
  • Artificial insemination/cow breeding with UH Animal Science or Pre-Veterinary students

Overview of Projects

Grass-Fed Beef—Started 1995. Evaluate on-site herd to analyze genetics of various breeds of cattle for selective breeding through artificial Hawaii Steerinsemination, utilize utlrasound to examine animals for desired meat cut characteristics (rib-eye), utilize low-stress animal handling techniques, work with meat processors to refine processing and tenderizing techniques. Goal: to produce quality grade, forage-finished beef to market within 18 to 24 months that is raised entirely on grass. Develop grass-fed beef as a niche, high-value product that’s free from hormones and antibiotics for the discriminating consumer.

Started 2011. Mealani provides Animal Science and Pre-Veterinary students attending UH Manoa and UH-Hilo hands-on experience in the breeding of the cow herd. Under the instruction of Dr. Ashley Stokes, the sessions cover beef cattle reproduction, genetics, semen handling and performing artificial insemination.

Pasture Rotation—Started 2005. Evaluation trials of intensive grazing techniques using approximately 250 head of cattle to best utilize nutritive values of forage while sustaining paddocks. Research involves daily rotation of separate groups of steers (market animals), heifers (young females) and cow/calves among paddocks so each group of animal is always digesting the same part of the grass stalk. Steers consume the top of the grass, which has the highest protein content, followed by heifers who eat the middle of the stalk and cow/calves, which eat the bottom and get the most fiber. Goal: To utilize forage effectively and to demonstrate the production of healthy, vigorous grass-finished beef on less acreage for efficient land utilization.

Forage Systems—Started 1987. Mealani has one of the Pacific basin’s largest collections of tropical forage grasses in investigation and demonstration gardens. They include pangola and kikuyu grasses and legume covers. Legumes, such as the perennial peanut and leucaena, fix nitrogen in the soil and help other forages grow. Mealani is experimenting with a new variety of grass in its forage garden—Stylo. Planted in March 2012, it’s a nitrogen-fixing forage that animals can graze. Mealani ag technician Marla Fergerstrom says it is drought-tolerant, can thrive in poor soil types and has been used as animal feed that has been “cut and fed.” Goal: To make different efficient tropical forages available for ranchers to plant in their pastures.

Bio-Control Moth Production—Started 2013. Mealani is cage-rearing Secusio extensa (Arctiidae) for fireweed suppression and control in Secusio extensa mothpastures. In the 18 months since the inception of this effort, Mealani has distributed over 2,000 caterpillar larvae.Fireweed is an invasive plant toxic to cattle and horses. In partnership with the Hawai’i Dept. of Agriculture (HDOA), Mealani raises the moth lavae until they are a half-inch or more in length for distribution to ranchers. The lavae voraciously consume the leaves, buds and bark specifically of fireweed plants, which is estimated to have taken over more than 850,000 acres of pastureland, mainly on Hawai’i Island and Maui. The statewide Hawai‘i Cattlemen’s Council has agreed that bio-control is the only feasible, long-term option for control of fireweed. The Council funded the first exploratory trips by HDOA entomologists to southern Africa and Madagascar to search for an insect or disease that could safely control fireweed. The state approved release of the moth in 2010, with federal approval finalized in 2012. While this bio-control doesn’t eliminate fireweed, Fergerstrom says it makes the plant weak. After six months of production, Mealani has released thousands of lavae to ranchers. Distribution of the insect is done by UH’s Kamuela Cooperative Extension Office, 887-6183, or contact Mealani for more info, 887-6185.

Tea—Started 1999. Evaluation trials of one acre of tea containing 10 cultivars, plus 320 different seedlings for possible cultivar development. Research includes ag production techniques, harvest yield studies, quality control and product processing to remove plant bitterness and astringencies. Mealani provides local tea society growers with cuttings, educational workshops and tours of station planting. In 2013, CTAHR started offering Tea 101 workshops at Mealani to teach the steps of growing and hand-processing Hawaii-grown tea. Tea propagation workshops were added in 2014. Led by CTAHR Extension Economist Stuart Nakamoto and UH extension agent Randy Hamasaki, classes are geared to existing tea growers and those interested in growing and producing tea as a business. Future sessions are planned for homeowners, hobbyists and tea enthusiasts. For info, 887-6183. Goal: to develop unique Hawai‘i-grown teas.

Alternative Crops—Started in 2009. Mealani planted a small arboretum of fruit trees to test varieties requiring a “lesser chill” than the temperate-zoned U.S. Mainland. Different types of peach, Surinam and bing-type cherries, plus persimmon are under observation. Goal: To develop alternative fruit crops.

  • Cultivation efforts for tropical peaches were stepped up in 2014 with trials on four varieties: Tropic Snow, Tropic Sweet, Tropic Beauty and Mealani PeachTropic Prime. Trials are in progress at Mealani and other locations via cooperative volunteers. Mealani offered workshops on tree care that included pruning for better fruit set and techniques for achieving larger fruit size production. Goal: to get a marketable peach grown in Hawai’i

Blueberries—Started 2005. Evaluation trials in and out of hot house of 34 warm-clime varieties that don’t require a high chill. Research includes ag production, acclimatization to environment, resistances to disease (rust), pruning methods and timing for production in high-value market windows. Goal: to develop blueberries as an alternative crop for farmers.

Field Education of Culinary Students—Initiated in 2010. Mealani invites college and high school culinary students and instructors to learn about its research products—especially grass-fed beef. At field station visits, future chefs meet the individuals involved in raising the cattle and view production practices. The visits encourage interaction and foster understanding between future chefs and food producers. The vision of this program has several goals:

  • To educate chefs about what effort goes into the product and its benefits, so they use it.
  • To provide chefs with the opportunity to communicate with food producers so they better understand production challenges.
  • To provide food producers with the opportunity to communicate with those who use their product so they comprehend culinary expectations. It’s found that producers can do a better job if they have a relationship with the buyer.
  • Expand program so future chefs visit private ranches, food producers and food handlers.