The government handed over 60 cows to the Agriculture Society on Monday to help farmers maintain their herds amid a busy holiday season.
It is the first time in a decade that the government has brought cows to the island.
Adrian Estwick, director of the Agriculture Department, handed over the cows to George Ebanks, president of the Agriculture Society, from the department’s holding pens behind the Frances Bodden Girls’ Home, where the cows had been held since Nov. 17.
It cost the government $112,000 to bring the cows to the island. Money raised from the sale of the cows will pay for another shipment in 2017.
Mr. Ebanks says the mixed-breed Angus cattle are on sale to farmers on a first-come, first-served basis, for $1.65 a pound, to supplement local herds after the Christmas slaughter.
He added that the society is being proactive: “We don’t want a situation where there is no local meat. Hopefully this will offset the demand in 2017 and onward because we know that Christmas time is always the busiest for consumption.”
Thirty-seven farmers have so far shown interest in the cows, he said.
The cows were imported from Jimmy Chapman’s ranch in South Florida. The animals went through mandatory testing in Florida to ensure they met the health standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which allowed them to be safely exported to Cayman. Once in Cayman, they went through further health checks, officials said.
Mr. Ebanks said strict quarantine and testing is essential in order to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases.
It took two months for the cows to arrive on island. They were accompanied by a U.S.
attendant to make sure they arrived safely.
William Ebanks, a farmer and member of the Agriculture Society, said the benefit of having steers is that they can be mixed in with young females without worry about breeding.
The cows were imported by the Agriculture Society strictly for slaughter, he said.
During the festive season in the Cayman Islands, residents enjoy many traditional Christmas dishes using fresh local meat. As a result of this increase in demand, there is an increase in the number of animals slaughtered by local butchers.