All of the beef cattle that arrived in Grand Cayman last month have been purchased by local farmers.
Farmers bought their selections from a herd of 60 steers imported by the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society to supplement the beef produced by their small herds, according to a press release.
After arriving on island, the steers were held in isolation by the Agriculture Department from Nov. 17 at pens in Lower Valley, Bodden Town, and were handed over to the Agriculture Society for sale to farmers on Nov. 26.
Agriculture Society President George Smith said a Cayman Islands government grant of $112,000 paid for the purchase and shipment of the animals, the first such undertaking in several years.
The Agriculture Society sourced the cattle from a ranch in South Florida. After a one-month quarantine in the United States, lab tests and other stringent requirements, the cattle arrived in the Cayman Islands on a commercial ship accompanied by a handler from the United States.
The shipment consisted of Angus cattle, commonly bred for beef production, Simmental cattle, a breed originating in Switzerland, and Brangus cattle, a popular cross-breed between Angus and Brahman.
While the steers were being held at the Cayman Islands Agriculture Department, the Department of Environment controlled their feeding, the release states.
Farmers had the opportunity to inspect the steers before the sale date. Most of the 37 local farmers opted to buy an animal or two at a cost of $1,235 each.
Kurt Tibbetts, the minister responsible for agriculture, welcomed the timely arrival of the animals.
“The positive effects will continue, for while this herd was imported specifically for meat purposes, the funds raised from the sales will be used by the CIAS to import breeder cattle in the new year,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
Mr. Smith thanked government for its continued support of the agriculture sector.
Speaking about the growing recognition of the high quality of local meat, he added that local ranchers use a process that improves the quality of the beef sold to consumers.
Agriculture Society members confirmed that the 60 imports are already receiving the same “Cayman Kind” treatment as local calves that have been fattened and prepared to meet the traditionally high demand for fresh local beef at Christmas.
North Side farmer and Agriculture Society second vice-president Geoffry Ebanks explained that this special treatment involves using particular types of feeds and is complemented by the unique quality of local guinea grass on which the cattle graze, and even the quality of the water.
Both men confirmed that feedback from local butchers and consumers has been extremely positive.