HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii cattle ranchers are feeling the heat as the drought persists. They say it’s forcing them to spend a lot more money and threatening their livelihood.
Drought conditions in Waikoloa on the Big Island have forced ranchers to move their cattle away to greener pastures. That drove Nando the bull to Brittany Isaac’s backyard.
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“As the drought got worse, I think he just gave up grazing. There’s just literally nothing to graze,” said Isaac.
Nando was emaciated when she first started feeding him, and has now become a family pet.
“He’s doing a lot better but his hip bones are really skinny,” said Isaac. “You can see all of his ribs, but in the last few days with all the extra food, he’s looking like he’s starting to fill out a little bit more.”
Earlier this month, cows were roaming through people’s yards in Makakilo, searching for food and water. Gauges show that the ranch there received six inches of rain in the past two years. It normally gets 22 inches per year.
“So they’ve been bringing in supplemental feed,” said Nicole Galase, managing director at the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council. “That means trucking in heavy bags, having people to lay out the feed for the cattle, and doing that on a daily basis.”
Galase says that amounts to thousands of dollars in additional costs. The drought comes at a time when ranchers are trying to ramp up production because of increased demand for local beef. She says it’s important that they get the support they need to keep production going.
“If we were to lose the cattle industry here in Hawaii, that would put us at a really big disadvantage if there were to be any sort of disruptions to the supply chains,” said Galase.
The industry is pushing for the USDA to approve bigger grants to ranchers and for that money to be given in a more timely manner.
As for Nando, donations through a Go Fund Me drive have helped Isaac keep him well fed. She plans to ask the owner if she and her family can adopt him. If you want to donate, click here.