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Dairy Cows - Life, Usage, and Sufferings (New York Times)


 

 

Title: It Ain't Just for Meat; It's for Lotion

 

By - J.Peder Zane

New York Times - article

May 12, 1996

Summary:

To the lay person they are cows (and that is how they are referred to in the accompanying article) but to the beef industry they are steers, or castrated males, and heifers, or young females (Only females that have given birth are referred to as cows).

The average animal at slaughter weighs 1,150 pounds. It weighs 714 pounds once the head, hooves, hide, and intestines are removed. The remaining carcass yields about 568 pounds of beef and 49 pounds of organs and gland, some of which - like the liver - make their way to the dinner table. The rest (97 pounds) is mostly fat and bone, and turns up in everything from floor wax to pet food. 

According to the Agriculture Department, ranchers were getting about $632 per head (cattle) last week, while meat packers, who butcher the animals, were getting about $644 for the meat and $101 for the byproducts.

Some of the most valuable body parts, along with their common uses and recent wholesale price list is attached at the end of article.

Article:

Introduction:

Chopping sheep brains� That's what made the British cows mad, and could have killed the English men who ate them, scientists believe.

While American farmers and ranchers assure the public that no sheep passes their Elsles' lips, some folks might be surprised at what American livestock, swine and poultry are fatted upon. Besides corn, soy or other grains, their diets is often include heaping helpings of dried blood, pulverized feathers, crushed bone, leftover french fry grease from fast-food joints and meat meal - which may include mashed pancreas, kidney and heart, and those parts that even packers, wouldn't dare shove into luncheon meats or head cheese.

Cannibalism down on the farm? You betcha�... Baby chick is growing strong and healthy on what�s left from mom after she's been shipped off as atomic wings, drumsticks and boned breasts.

"We use everything but the squeal, the cluck and the moo," says Dr. Raymond L. Burns, coordinator of the alternative uses program for the Kansas Department of Agriculture in Topeka.

Welcome to the world of offal, rendering and carcasses, an industry that gives a new meaning to the phrase "You are what you eat."

It asks: Once you have carved away the T-bone steaks and London broils, the pork chops and sides of Canadian bacon, the leg and the rack of lamb, what to do with the rest? With the hearts, kidneys and pituitary glands? The horns, hoofs, toenails, skulls and intestines? How about the "paunch material" - undigested stomach contents?

Answer: More than you can imagine. The abattoir's detritus is used in a dizzying array of products, including life-saving medicines, life-enhancing beauty aids, soaps, candy, clothing, upholstery, shoes and sporting goods. Not to mention crayons, floor waxes, antifreeze, matches, cellophane, linoleum, cement, photographic paper and weed killers.

For while the renewed outbreak of mad cow disease in Britain led to no small panic as humanity imagined a world without Big Macs or Quarter Pounders, the fact is, the doomsday scenario is much worse. "Take away cows or pigs and you change life as we know it," half-Kids Dr. Jerry Breiter, vice president of allied products for the American Meat Institute, a trade association.

Although mad cow disease is not a threat to the United States cattle industry, there are other concerns. Persistent problems are E. coli bacteria - which killed three children in 1993 who ate undercooked hamburgers at Jack In The Box restaurants - and salmonella contamination afflict many thousands of Americans a year.

While the meat industry downplays the threat, it has taken steps to clean up its act. Most large meat plants now spray steam on carcasses to kill bacteria. They routinely check meat for microbes and have established hazard checkpoints. In addition, consumers can safeguard themselves by thoroughly cooking all meat.

Still, there are ever-present ethical questions, even for those who do not think meat is murder. The industry's cold-eyed view of animals as products to be optimally exploited is no doubt disquieting to many people. It's worth keeping in mind, however, that no animals are slaughtered just to make floor wax or lipstick - 80 to 90 percent of a cow or pig's value is in the meat people eat. And, as cattle prices have slid to their lowest levels in a decade, prompting President Clinton to try to shore up beef prices last week, meat packers are all the more concerned with squeezing out every penny.