It’s an age old question that needs some answers! Today’s society is perceived as being a wasteful one, yet when it comes to the carcass use of cattle this is not so. Our slaughterhouses are bigger and much more efficient, our knowledge of the bodies of cattle is greater than it used to be and our technology is truly outstanding. All of these factors have had a great influence on the conversion rate of cattle to by-products which has contributed to our everyday life.
Contrary to popular opinion the term ‘carcass’ in Alberta refers to the tradable parts of an animal, including the meat and bones, and excluding the hide or the offal. Offal is the edible organs and other inedible parts of the animal that have other uses and are typically viewed as having little value at the slaughterhouse.
The meat of a cattle carcass is divided into several sections, with the most prized cuts of meat coming from the back half of the animal. However, that doesn’t mean that the meat from the front quarters is bad, as many of you who have had slow-roasted brisket can attest to. When asked if there was a difference in eating quality between breeds in Alberta, Dr. Mick Price, a beef expert at the University of Alberta, responded, “All beef breeds are the same.” Dr. Price also confirms that hot dogs are truly made out of meat. Moe Roshan, a meat supervisor at Superstore, said that the best selling cuts of meat are T-bone, prime rib, tenderloin and top sirloin. The fat is the only waste product that is produced in the store, and is collected and sold to cosmetic companies as a raw material for lipstick and foundation production.
The uses for cattle are not only limited to meat products! The hide can be made into leather products, the hide trimmings can be used to make fertilizer and glues, and the hide fat can be used to make soaps, candles, and animal foods. The inner layer of the skin can be used to make cosmetics and collagen products, the tail and inner-ear hair can be used to make paint brushes, and the body hair can be used for felting. Bone carbon can be used to make ball bearings, and gelatin, used to make gummy worms and Jello, can be made from the bones, hooves and horns.
It is apparent that today’s society does try its best to make use of the whole animal. From the T-bone steaks that are on our dinner tables to the glue used in schools, everything that CAN be used to make the by-products IS. Despite the Mad Cow Disease outbreak, we have worked our way around this to continue to use cattle in the most efficient way and not exposing consumers to the disease. So we do indeed use ‘everything but the moo’, in fact we use the moo as well… those toys the imitate cow noises!!
– Brent Hook, Brigette So, Melanie Mattila, Nicole Christenson, Tammy Cooper