Molokai Ranch seeds the future

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Molokai Ranch is a few weeks from doing sonograms on cattle that have been inseminated with Wagyu beef embryos.

Wagyu - which literally means "cow" in Japanese - refers to particular breeds of cattle that are noted for high marbling and good flavor. Kobe beef comes from wagyu cattle.

The ranch, and scientists from the University of Hawaii who worked on the project, recently announced that 55 percent of affected cows were confirmed pregnant, a higher-than-usual artificial insemination rate.

The next step is to control what they eat.

"This has to do with nutrition management," says Dr. Jinzeng Yang of the U.H. College of Tropical Agriculture. "They'll be grass-fed."

"And the grass, which is a regular Molokai strain, turns out to be very good for this," says Clay Rumbaoa, CEO of Molokai Ranch.

It can take two or three years to fatten a calf for slaughter, so Molokai Ranch can't expect immediate returns. But wagyu beef commands premium prices.

Even while it was closed during the recession, Molokai Ranch nurtured its paniolo tradition. Jimmy Duvauchelle, who retired last summer after 50 years at the ranch, was the star of a November rodeo.

Molokai Ranch's secret weapon is producing grass-fed beef is lots and lots of land. To raise beef through old-fashioned grazing, one needs twice as much land, so grass can regrow in one pasture while cattle are munching on another.

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