The Many Uses of a Cow - Beef By-Products

February 4, 2014

Recently we had the opportunity to participate in an annual event held in Garden City, KS called farm day, put on an organized by the Finney County Farm Bureau. Throughout the day about 700 4th graders from all the surrounding communities come to the fairgrounds to learn more about the agriculture in our area.

There were stations to teach them all about:

  • Corn and what we use it for from a local ethanol plant.
  • Milk from a dairyman that taught them where milk comes from and what it used for, such as cheese and butter.
  • A large equipment dealer to teach them about tractors and farm equipment and the many different types
  • And many more!

 All in all, I believe there were about seven different agriculture-related stations.

We were there to discuss by-products and the many ways we use a cow for more than just for beef.

A by-product is something produced in the course of making the main product.

 In the beef industry, the main product we produce is beef—the hamburgers, steaks and roast beef we enjoy eating.  A beef by-product is something made from a cow besides the beef we eat. To illustrate, an 1150 pound market steer yields approximately 500 pounds of beef. Nearly all of the remaining weight is recovered as by-products.

There are three categories of by-products to determine the items made with the rest of the animal: EDIBLE, INEDIBLE and MEDICINAL.

Edible By-Products are things we can eat. 

Some edible beef by-products are fairly well known such as variety meats. The nutritious value of liver, kidneys, brains, tripe, sweetbreads, and tongue has been acknowledged for quite a while. Other important edible by-products are less well known. Fats yield oleo stock and oleo oil for margarine and shortening. Oleo stearin is used in making chewing gum and certain candies. Gelatin produced from bones and skins is used in marshmallows, ice cream, canned meats, and gelatin desserts. Intestines may provide natural sausage casings.

Inedible By-Products are things we cannot eat.

You probably use at least one item containing inedible beef by-products every day. For example, you probably know that the beef hide is used to make leather, but did you know that the hide also supplies felt and other textiles? It provides a base for many ointments, binders for plaster and asphalt, and a base for the insulation material used to cool and heat your house. In addition, “camel hair” artists’ brushes are not really made from camel hair but from the fine hair found in the ears and tails of beef cattle. Footballs, which used to be called “pigskins,” are also generally produced from cattle hide.

Industrial oils and lubricants, tallow for tanning, soaps, lipsticks, face and hand creams, some medicines, and ingredients for explosives are produced from the inedible fats from beef. Fatty acids are used in the production of chemicals, biodegradable detergents, pesticides, and flotation agents. One fatty acid is used to make automobile tires run cooler and, therefore last longer.

Bones, horns, and hooves also supply important by-products. These include buttons, bone china, piano keys, glues, fertilizer, and gelatin for photographic film, paper, wallpaper, sandpaper, combs, toothbrushes, and violin string.

Medicinal By-Products are things used by your doctor.

More than 100 individual drugs performing such important and varied functions as helping to make childbirth safer, settling an upset stomach, preventing blood clots in the circulatory system, controlling anemia, relieving some symptoms of hay fever and asthma, and helping babies digest milk include beef by-products. Insulin is perhaps the best-known pharmaceutical derived from cattle. There are 5 million diabetic people in the United States, and 1.25 million of them require insulin daily. It takes the pancreases from 26 cattle to provide enough insulin to keep one diabetic person alive for a year.

Through genetic engineering techniques and research developments, many of the drugs produced from cattle are now being chemically produced in a laboratory, often less expensively than recovery from animal organs.

Most of the material used for surgical sutures is derived from the intestines of meat animals.

This description of cattle by-products is by no means complete. In fact, new uses are discovered almost daily. But we hope that now when you hear “Where’s the beef?” you will think:

• It is in hospitals and drug stores.

• It is helping your car run better and your clothes get cleaner.

• It is in sporting goods, photographic equipment, and art supply shops.

• It is in firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

• It is in your garden keeping down insect infestations.

• It is in soap for washing your face

We really enjoyed spending our day with the area kids teaching them about what we do at Cattle Empire, we hope you were able to learn something as well!


Thank you this was very informative. I wonder if all of those vegetarian neonazi's (you know the ones, those who protest some markets and restarunts yelling at people that eating beef or pultry is murder- sometimes even throwing buckets of blood on people. Also the anti fur anti leather PETA types (personally I am a Proud member of PETA, People Eating Tasty Animals!) who do similar things. I wonder if they know all the uses of not only beef but all the meat animal by products that almost guarantee that they use them on at least a daily basis if not many times a day. It's like the anti nuke protestors I saw on television one day, catching tans shirtless and in bikinis. Do they know that a tan is nothing more than a radiation burn. Or the oil protestors, no blood or war for oil and all that, while driving their Hummers to the protests and using oil derivatives constantly and wouldn't give a single one up if it caused even slight inconvience to them. Could they even possibly conceive a world without oil? If they knew they wouldn't protest, I personally hate only self imposed ignorance, which seems to be rampant today. Please to all that might read this, educate yourself on all aspects of an issue before you work eithier for or against it, whatever it might be. Then if you still feel strongly please do let your voice be heard, that is exactly what a responsible caretaker of democracy is supposed to do, which shamefully few do today-just as Socrates and Plato predicted and why they spoke against democracy. Many times however you will learn that while not perfect or perhaps even desirable it turns out to be the best of the available options currently. In that case your voice would best be applied to those who advocate research and innovation to come up with new options and solutions that please everyone including the environment!! Ignorance is the real and ultimate enemy, so easily defeat able with just a small effort.
I am one of the many diabetics in the US. I was diagnosed when I was two years old. I knew that there was insline made from pig but not cow!! THat is really cool!!!!
I love this.please continue to feed people with good information as this.thanks.
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this is freaking amazing
What if you're allergic to beef products? I have had life threatening reactions and it's frightening to think that so many products I may come in contact with or eat may trigger another one. Are there any comprehensive lists of such products for people that have Alpha-Gal allergies?
The cow is a domestic animal. It is very gentle in nature. It is very useful animal. It is a four footed animal. It has two ears, two eyes, two horns and a long tail. Its body is covered with soft and short hair. Cows are of different colors, such as red black, white etc. The cow is found all over the world. It lives on grass, straw, oil-cake etc. It is very found of its calf. The cow gives us milk. Milk is an ideal food. We get butter, ghee, cheese etc from milk. Ox and bullocks draw carts and plow the lands. We must take care of our cows.
is there any medicines(tablets) are contains cow bone???? i ill be waiting for your reply
When someone writes an post he/she maintains the thought of a user in his/her brain that how a user can understand it. Therefore that's why this article is outstdanding. Thanks!
I completed a Ranch Management program .I had wonderful teachers with a lot of Hands on experience. We also did a study of boxed beef prices products and beef byproducts and why this drives up the consumer price of beef And most important the Beef producer does not benifet at all . but the Goverment does.Maybe if we boycout some of the companies that sell the products we could put an end to the beef check off program.
Footballs are made from beef byproducts.
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cool kids cool
what is the percentages of the amount being used in the product
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