Marianas Feasibility Study
evaluating the feasibility of a slaughterhouse/meat business
Project components
About the project

Supply of animals


Supply of animals and livestock production considerations

·        Current supply & demand considerations

·         Beef cattle supply considerations

·        Swine supply considerations


1.      Current supply & demand considerations

·        It appears that, on each of the main islands in the Marianas (Guam, Rota, Saipan, and Tinian), the current supply of animals is roughly in balance with the current informal demand for (and consumption of) unregulated meat products for fiestas and other personal consumption. 

·         Click here to see a table of cattle production in the Marianas, from the 2007 USDA Agricultural Census.
Click here to see a table of pig production in the Marianas, from the 2007 USDA Agricultural Census.

§        While the accuracy of these figures is uncertain, informal discussions with producers in the islands during November-December 2010 indicate that these figures are “in the ballpark. 

§         In particular, the figures for animals sold should be viewed with caution.  The reliability of these figures is questionable (there are no known reporting mechanisms in place in the islands for tracking such sales); moreover, these figures should not be considered indicative of livestock that might be available for a slaughterhouse operation (for example, some may reflect animals sold from one producer to another). 

2.      Beef cattle supply considerations

·         USDA provides a wealth of information regarding cattle production and beef consumption at:  http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Cattle/

·        All beef cattle produced in the Marianas are pastured (i.e., there are no feedlots). 

·        Increasing beef production (i.e., increasing the herd size) on any island would depend on the availability of additional pastureland and/or an increase in the stocking rate…the following link is to the University of Hawaii’s report “Stocking Rate: The Most Important Tool in the Toolbox”: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PRM-4.pdf

·         Substantially increasing the herd size of beef cattle on an island would require careful planning and implementation by individual producers and coordination amongst producers, and would likely take 3 to 5 years.

·         Of the four islands,Tinian appears to have the greatest potential for increasing beef herd production.  However, the tenuous land lease arrangements between the CNMI government and the US Navy greatly undermine the ability of local producers to expand pasturelands and make long-term commitments regarding production increases.  For more information regarding the land lease issues on Tinian, refer to: http://archives.pireport.org/archive/2010/March/03-04-ft.htm ;

§         “In 1994 the Commonwealth and the U.S. Department of Defense signed a leaseback agreement to allow the Tinian government to use a portion of the public lands leased to the military…Under the 1994 agreement the CNMI government is only allowed to use the leaseback properties for agricultural and grazing purposes…The leaseback agreement has since been amended, leaving only about 5,800 acres of land located in the middle of the Tinian covered by the agreement.”  Refer to: http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?cat=1&newsID=43752

§         A large-scale beef operation previously existed on Tinian, which included a slaughterhouse.  The Micronesian Development Company (MDC, also known as the Bar-K Ranch) increased beef cattle production on 7,500 acres on Tinian during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s to [reportedly] over 7,000 head.  According to one of the previous employees, MDC’s slaughterhouse (located in a re-used WWII building) slaughtered up to 25 beef cattle per day, up to 3 days/week.  http://www.cnmilaw.org/pdf/supreme_court/2008-MP-08.pdf

·        For more information regarding options for improving pasturelands and forage quality and strategies for increasing herd size, contact one of the team members of the Marianas Grazing Academy at: http://marianasgrazingacademy.org/PDF's/team_member_profiles.pdf

·        Information regarding the cost of cattle production in a tropical island setting can be obtained from the report "Calculating the Cost of Production for a Cow-Calf Operation". by the University of Hawaii -- click here

3.      Swine supply considerations

·         A meat business in the islands intending to make pork products will need to carefully evaluate all aspects of production and supply of pigs, as the reliability of supply will fundamentally affect business risks.  Several options for structuring the supply of pigs are discussed in the Business section.

·        Pigs can be pastured or raised in confined feeding operations. 

§         Most pig production facilities in the Marianas (and throughout other Pacific islands) are small, backyard “piggeries”.  Commercial pig production would likely entail confined feeding operations.  It may be possible to raise some of the feed locally, but land area would likely be a limiting factor. 

§         For example, if the pigs are fed using corn grain, the amount of corn required would be 2,600 tons/year to support a slaughter rate of 60 pigs/day (assuming 240 days/year and 3.0 lbs/lb feed conversion ratio).  If 50% of this grain is locally produced, the net production land area required would be 650 acres (assuming an estimated 2.0 tons/acre/year).

·         Sources of information regarding pig production and pork consumption:

§         USDA provides a wealth of information regarding pig production and pork consumption at:  http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/hogs/ 

§         Additional information on the global pig industry, including information regarding feed can be found at: http://www.thepigsite.com/

§        Profitable Pork: Strategies for Hog Producers; Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program: http://www.sare.org/publications/hogs/profpork.pdf

·        The following links provide additional information regarding pig production that may be useful for establishing or expanding piggeries in the Marianas:

§         Pork Chain Solutions: http://www.porkchain.com/

§        Hog Production Alternatives – Livestock Production Guide: http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/Hogs.html

§        Cost of Organic Pork Production: http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/reports/01swinereports/asl-1784B.pdf

§        Contract vs. Independent Pork Production: Does Financing Matter?:  http://hub.ansc.purdue.edu/swine/swineday/sday99/18.pdf

§        The National Pork Producer Council is comprised of 43 affiliated state associations, which represent most of the country's 67,000 pork producers: www.nppc.org.  The contact person for the state of Hawaii is available at: http://www.nppc.org/AboutUs/StateAssociations.htm

§        The Economics and Profit Potential of Hog Production: http://www.livestocktrail.uiuc.edu/porknet/paperDisplay.cfm?ContentID=42

§        Compliance Assistance Center – Slaughterhouses (Philippines): http://slaughterhouse.cac-phil.org/

§        Hawaii Livestock Cooperative: http://www.hawaii-sbdc.org/reports/retafinal/rf-pdf/i55-57.pdf

§        Slaughterhouse feasibility report:  http://www.uvm.edu/~susagctr/Documents/SlaughterhouseFINALREPORT.pdf

§        Pierce County's first mobile slaughterhouse: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/04/07/1138248/from-field-to-table.html

§        Iowa Pork Industry Center: http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/

§         The Economic Importance of the Iowa Pork Industry: http://www2.econ.iastate.edu/outreach/agriculture/AgImpactStudy/hogs/state.htm

§        Managing Pig Feed Costs in Niche Pork Production: http://www.ipic.iastate.edu/publications/Nichefeedcosts.pdf