Q: What are by-products and what is their role in beef and dairy production?
A: By-products are secondary products from the production of something. In the case of the beef and dairy industry cattle create by-products as well as consume them in the form of feeds. When cattle are harvested about 60% of their body is utilized in the form of meat, the rest (the tendons, some organs, bones, and liquids) can be utilized in many different ways. Fats can be transformed into Oleo which can be used to make gums, margarine, and candies. Gelatin is produced from bones and is used in marshmallows, jello, and canned meats. Other by-products include leather for balls and clothing, hair used in paint brushes, oil and lubricants that are used in vehicles or on roads, piano keys and even fertilizer from the bones.
Cattle also consume by-products from other industries as well. Cattle have a unique digestive system that allows them to break down certain feeds or products into useable forms. For example, after an orange is squeezed the rind and pulp can be fed to cattle. Grains that were used in distilling still have some nutritional value and are also fed to cattle. Cattle are excellent recyclers, from utilizing all of their bodies to eating things that nothing else can use!