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Mar 18, 2006 05:56 PM

After slaughter, what happens to the unused cow parts?

  • m

Have always wondered. Simply out of curiosity, not from any morbid fascination to the gross or controversial. After the edible beef is taken, what happens to the heads, hooves, and other unused parts? Buried? Ground up for use as fertilizer? There's a lot of mystery surrounding what happens at a slaughterhouse.

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  1. The discarded carcass is sent to a rendering plant which separates the remains into components that may be used for a number of things.

    -Pet food
    -Animal feed
    -Fuel (meat and bone meal is burned like coal)

    There's a ton of other uses, but I'm no expert in this area.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Humbucker

      And school lunch programs and federal prisons and export...

      1. re: JudiAU

        Ah yes, the essential ingredients for the ammonia meat slurry burger. Yum!

        1. re: sebetti

          Are you refering slime?

      2. re: Humbucker

        I think the only unused part is the "moo" although somebody is certainly trying to figure a way to profit from that too.

        1. re: BluPlateSpec

          They put the "moo" into little cardboard drums that you turn over to activate.

          1. re: Mnosyne

            Ah ha! So, there are no unused parts of the cow. And so now about Soylent Green......

        2. re: Humbucker

          You about nailed it. Worked for a major packing house in K.C. many years ago. As the steer went through the process, the blood was rendered for blood meal fert., the hide was saved for leather, the skulls were split and the pituitary glands removed for pharmacutical use, and everything else went down the offal chute and was rendered into the stuff in Humbucker's list. Really, there was no waste and everything was very clean. Once we had a grad student that was doing research on lacrimal (tear) glands and we had dozens of skinned steer heads lined up like solders. They stared at you with lifeless, lidless eyes and actually twitched! Wierd.

          1. re: Sony Bob

            That was the same at Tyson, so clean and sanitary even though what was going on. It made me not afraid to eat food made in USA.

            1. re: coll

              Hmm, seeing the way that the chickens at Tyson were raised made me vow never to eat another chicken, unless I knew firsthand that it wasn't factory-farmed. Maybe they treat them better after they are dead, than when they are alive...

              1. re: butterfly

                They only live about six weeks, if that makes it a little better.

        3. Head = cabeza, quite edible and often eaten in tacos. Not the bones obviously, but all the flesh on the skull is tasty stuff. Tongues too, and I've heard that eyeball tacos exist but I have never actually seen one.


          9 Replies
          1. re: nja

            I worked with someone from Hungary who told me he and his family would cook a lambs head as a snack and fight over the eye balls.

            1. re: coll

              That's it, I can't read anymore comments.

              1. re: coll

                Yep. My mother's parents were Greek. Her most "telling" comment about her "spoiled" middle sister was that she always felt entitled to, and usually manage to finagle, those.;) (My mother, on the other hand, got permission starting at an early age to eat scrambled eggs in the kitchen on "lamb's head night"!)

                1. re: coll

                  Was your friend Greek? Apparently that's an honor in Greek families, who gets to eat the eye-balls and brain. I was bestowed this honor by a Greek family I worked for during their Easter dinner. Who knows maybe they just made that up just to screw with me. Lol

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    "Who knows maybe they just made that up just to screw with me."

                    Nope. See my comment re my mother's middle sister. ;)

                2. re: nja

                  Si, Lengua (tongue) and Cabeza (“Head” – jaw meat) tacos.

                  And everyone’s fav – Tacos de sesos (brains)

                  1. re: nja

                    Come down to Chicago's Maxwell street market on Sunday and get your eyeball tacos

                    1. re: nja

                      Beef cheeks are some of the most succulent meat on the animal, IMHO, as to both texture and flavor.

                    2. If this were China, or a number of other countries, the response would be "What unused parts?"

                      I recently learned from a post on the SF board that the US exports turkey tails to Pacific Islands because they are a delicacy there. Now I'm wondering if the beef producers are getting full value for the bulls', er, "pizzles" which are considered a delicacy (and performance enhancers) in China.


                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        When I visited the Tyson chicken factory in Arkansas, they told us that chicken "paws" (feet) are very valuable in China, where they are considered a delicacy, and that's where they send them. I know the heads and internal organs go into most dog and cat food, and I believe also makeup. Nothing is wasted.

                        1. re: coll

                          have you never had chicken feet for dimsum?

                          i personally consider it worth all the effort if they cook 'em up with the right sauce.


                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            My friend from Chile assures me they are unbelievably delicious fried, but I've never had the opportunity.

                            1. re: coll

                              never had them fried, but doused in this red sauce. really all you end up eating is the skin, but i'd imagine that if you deep fried it you could probably get it broken down enough that you could just eat the whole thing.

                              the skin is like any other skin and fat. YUM!


                        2. re: Gary Soup

                          Are "pizzles" the same as what they sell dried as a dog treat? Very popular lately. I was told they were bulls' testicles.

                            1. re: biltong

                              Yeah, that's what I thought they looked like! Thanks

                          1. re: Gary Soup

                            I have an old Turkish cookbook with a recipe for goat's penis. The first step is to slice it into 1/2" rounds. I stopped reading there.

                            1. re: Gary Soup

                              every pet food store sells pizzles as dog chews

                            2. You can buy dried cow hooves (and pig ears) in any pet store -- dogs love to chew 'em.

                              1. One word for you: jello. Yes, that friendly happy colorful food is made of processed hides and hooves and horns. Yum, Yum, Y'all.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Snackish

                                  There's nothing intrisically "wrong" or inferior with the non-muscle-meat parts, or even the less-digestible parts -- it's just cultural prejudice (as others have pointed out, other cultures have no such prejudices, and the prejudice against them in American culture is pretty recent).I have nothing against eating those parts, as long as they've been prepared in a manner that makes them tasty.

                                  Personally, I think it's a good thing that we aren't wasting anything from animals we slaughter -- I think we owe it to them, in fact.