How much of a slaughtered animal gets used?

Particularly cattle—how much of a slaughtered animal is used commercially? I would assume that most, if not all of the muscle tissue is tagged for human consumption. Likewise with the organ meats, although some of this may be incorporated into pet food products. I assume that the skin is used for leather, and that all of the blood and bone is sold to fertilizer manufacturers. The subcutaneous fat is probably used both for lard and in the manufacture of cosmetics and lotions. Is there anything I’m missing? How much of the head is used? Would the eyeballs and/or teeth have any commercial value? What about hooves? All in all, I assume that very little of the animal is wasted, but how small a percentage is this? Does it vary from slaughterhouse to slaughterhouse?

I’m not meat sciences person, but I’d guess that the VAST majority of the carcass is used in one way or another.

Muscle = food
Organs = food of one type or another
Hooves, connective tissue, etc… = gelatin/collagen
Blood, bone = fertilizer
skin = leather

Ever eat hot dogs?

From what I understand, it’s essentially 100%. At worst, you grind it up and make fertilizer. Plants don’t care if you’re spreading prime rib or eyeball juice over their roots so long as it’s biological.

My grandfather, who was a butcher, always said that 50% of the gross weight of the animal became salable meat. (And this was back in the 1940’s & 50’s, before the automated ‘meat by-product’ technology. It might be more now.)

So that leaves about half remaining. The hide & hair are used in the leather tanning industry; the bones are used; the hooves become Jello or glue. I don’t think there is much that goes unused.

What happens to the hair, exactly—does anybody know?

Everything but the squeal, as the saying goes.

When I butcher goats or sheep, we end up using everything except the intestines. The stomach chambers themselves are emptied and used as pet food, but the large and small intestines go in the garbage.

Hair-on hides are tanned with, well, the hair left on. The ones that aren’t, the hair is scraped off early in the tanning process. When, exactly, depends on what sort of tanning process you’re using and what the finished hide will be used for.

It used to be used for stuffing mattresses. But now there are other, synthetic materials used for that instead.

What’s the use for the cartiledge? As I recall, they ground it up and added it to the feed for cattle, which is what brought on Mad Cow Disease.

Oh yeah, and one of the Tex Mex delicacies is Barbacoa…they tell me it’s meat from the cheeks of the steer. Darn tasty, I’ll say that!

This is probably still just about right. We raise pastured beef on our little farm, and I usually estimate that about 60% of the hanging weight of the animal will end up as packaged meat. Hanging weight being the weight of the animal with skin and guts removed, your grandfather’s estimate of 50% of the gross weight is still pretty accurate.

ETA: This is at a small country butcher shop, if it matters, and not an industrial one.

Once upon a time but now, not so much. Go into any shop that sells pet items and you’ll find and awful lot of strange-looking items that are meant for dog chews. Lungs, neck tendons, and ears to name a couple. They’re smoked so they’re dry and chewy, and won’t spoil. Cow hoofs – just the keratin part – have been available for years, but just today I saw the whole beef trotter offered. Everything from what would be the cannon bone on a horse on down, skin, (a little) meat, bones, hoof, and all. There was no hair but I don’t know if it had been excoriated or if it’s naturally hairless.

I don’t think every slaughtered animal is getting its less desirable bits served up as doggie treats, but there is certainly less being rendered down for gelatin than in years past.