Training Livestock to Eat Weeds in the Tropical Pacific

by HI-GLC on December 24, 2011

In 2011, the West Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program awarded a $49,610 grant to University of Hawaii. Project Coordinator is Matthew Stevenson, the Assistant County Extension Agent on Kauai. Below is some basic information on the project.

“We aim to redefine certain pasture plants in the tropics and sub-tropics not as weeds but as regular parts of livestock diets. If we are successful to this end, ranchers may reduce or eliminate herbicide use and thus lower production costs, maintain herbicide efficacy and greater safeguard human health. Ranchers and researchers have trained livestock in temperate regions to eat weeds that have high levels of secondary chemicals. Beef cattle production is the largest livestock industry in Hawaii, and effects of cattle eating weeds with high secondary compounds on beef quality have not been widely described. As flavor is among the chief factors influencing consumer acceptance of a meat product, we seek to evaluate any effects of these plant chemicals on beef flavor and quality. Furthermore, these training methods have not been systematically tested or demonstrated in tropical grazing environments. We proposed to evaluate and demonstrate the efficacy or limitations of this multi-species livestock training program by assessing short- and medium-term impacts on target plants, beef flavor and quality, effects on animal health and potential for rancher adoption in Hawaii.”

For an entire project description and periodic updates, Click Here.

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