Makakilo cattleman hit hard by fire

Makakilo cattleman hit hard by fire

Bud Gibson runs a cattle ranch in the hills above Makakilo where he leases the property.

Last Friday's brush fire burned 900 acres of green grass on the Rocker G Livestock ranch. The grass was food for his cattle.

"With that kind of feed you're running about one cow-calf unit per 10 acres," he said.

In layman's terms, 100 head of cows could comfortably graze there.

The area that went up in flames is called the upper Panini pasture, where the grass was 5-feet tall and ideal for livestock grazing. Now it's gone.

"The trouble is that's not going to come back real quick. We got to hope and pray for rain. Hopefully we'll get some fall rain for that to come back. Otherwise we'll just lose that," Gibson said.

The fire also destroyed above ground water lines that water the eastern edge of the ranch, and fences had to be cut so firefighters could get to the blaze.

"Some of our water lines are high density polyethylene. We lay them on the ground because there's too many miles of water line to bury through that rough country," Gibson said.

There are more than 400 head of cattle on Gibson's ranch. but luckily, none of them were injured by the fire. He estimates his losses at $60,000 to $75,000.

"If you don't have 90 or 100 calves to send to market, you are going to lose a lot of money. That grass is feed. It's what keeps us going," he said.

Gibson said the real definition of a rancher is a grass farmer. He hopes the grass in the pasture will be grown in 6 to 9 months. Without it he may have to turn to buying grain to keep his cattle fed.

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