Hawaiian honors: Bulls post top stats in Midland Bull TestWritten by Saige Albert
“It’s good to know how the cattle are doing,” says Kukuipahu Ranch LLC’s manager Lee Beerman, mentioning that this year marks the ranch’s second year sending bulls to Montana for the Midland Bull Test.
Getting bulls to Midland
Beerman says the ranch chose to send four bulls this year – one more than last year.
“This year we will have three bulls in the sale. Last year all three bulls were in the sale,” says Beerman. “We’ve bought bulls at Midland since about 2006.”
To get the bulls to Montana, he says they fly the cattle to Texas, noting that it is essential to have interstate health certificates in order.
“It’s just like ranchers have to do up there to go between states,” he says.
“We have a neighbor who was shipping some market cattle to Kansas this year, and he let us ship our bulls with his,” says Beerman. “They went by air to Midland, Texas, and from Texas, they were trucked to Decatur, Kan.”
The bulls stayed in Kansas until they were hauled to the Midland Bull Test.
“Steve and Lindsey Williams helped us get them hauled from Kansas to Midland,” notes Beerman, adding that the team at Midland takes care of the animals very well.
“They have done an excellent job at Midland in taking care of them,” says Beerman.
The bulls transition to winter without special treatment, and Beerman says, “If anything, the weather is actually hotter than they are used to when they get to Texas in August, but we don’t get the extreme temperatures like up there.”
This year, he adds that one bull in particular did very well in the test.
Yellow tag division winner
Kukuipahu Ranch, LLC’s bull KPHU 1007 topped the Red Angus yellow tag division with an ADG ratio of 147, topping the second place bull by eight points. The bull is a son of LJC Mission Statement P27 and was calved Dec. 16, 2010, with EPDs of BW 0.0 WW 45 M 13 YW 85.
“When we have the bulls on test and see how they do, it helps us get a better price down here because they performed well,” says Beerman of the reasons for shipping bulls to Montana for the test. “If they need to improve in areas, we learn that from the test as well, and we are able to work on it.”
He adds that prices for young bulls are higher at the Midland Bull Test sale than local prices, which helps the operation.
The Kukuipahu Ranch, LLC
Kukuipahu Ranch runs commercial Red Angus and Black Angus herds, as well as registered herds from both breeds.
“One of our primary objectives is to produce a high quality grass-finished animals here in Hawaii,” says Beerman. “We also have the registered cattle, but we try to produce a high quality grass-finished commercial product.”
He notes that the registered aspect of the operation only began recently.
“We purchased our first registered cattle in 2006. They were yearlings and we had just a few to start with,” comments Beerman. “We have made additional purchases, so we have built a small herd of Red Angus and a small herd of Black Angus.”
The ranch is continually expanding the herd and utilizes the genetics from the registered cattle to improve their commercial herds.
“We raise the young bulls that we hold back for ourselves on grass, and we supplement them with alfalfa cubes,” says Beerman. “They aren’t on a feed ration, per se. The cubes are just a small percentage of their diet, and it does help and give them a boost over plain grass.”
The bulls that aren’t held back are sold as weaned calves, and a number of commercial ranches have purchased their calves for the last five years.
“It costs a lot more to feed an animal here than it does up there,” says Beerman, comparing to Wyoming and Montana feeding costs.
By periodically buying new bulls to improve their program, Beerman adds that the genetics in Hawaii also improve.
“We buy bulls to improve our own program, but we try to improve our bloodlines,” he explains, “and we share the genetics from their offspring with other ranchers who are interested.”
He says they may buy additional heifers in the future, as well.
While the ranch has only sent Red Angus to the Midland Bull Test in the last two years, Beerman says they will begin sending Black Angus in the future to continue to build and develop the cattle program at Kukuipahu Ranch, LLC.
A look at the Hawaiian cattle industry
According to the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) report issued in February 2012, Hawaii’s ranches are home to an estimated 140,000 head of cattle and calves, approximately 56 percent of which are beef cows.
Cattle numbers dropped by 1,000 head from last year, according to the report, which could be accounted for with the prolonged drought. Hawaii’s drought has led to reduced forage and pasture availability, as well as increased operating costs, as was seen across other drought-stricken areas of the country.
In 2011, Hawaii exported 38,000 head of cattle, with calves constituting 98.7 percent of that number.
Hawaii’s Cattlemen’s Council, Inc. boasts, “Ranchers are the stewards of over 1 million acres of land in Hawaii, or 25 percent of the state’s total land mass.”