Usability of meat from downed animals.

Watching one of the Vet shows the other day and the patient was a cow that had just had a calf but had prolapse her uterus. Cow bled out from a tear in said uterus.

Made me wonder if the meat is usable or a loss to the farmer? Cow was not sick or even in some respects barely injured.

In Kosher or Halal butchering they slit the throat to kill, correct? Would this be considered similar?

Dont have any cattle, just wondering.


Generally, no. Downers are a loss. In fact, to avoid accusations of profiting from cruelty, downers just sit, suffering, until a vet can come and euthanize it. A bit wasteful, and quite the opposite of merciful, I’ll be first to agree, but you can see how people just don’t want to do anything suspicious – i.e. “I’m totes sure it fell, just fell. No hidden disease here. We just won’t eat that bit.” Naw. Not a thing.

In Connecticut for example, any animal that dies suspiciously has to be autopsied. And no, you can’t get a few choice bits or some sausage out of what’s left post autopsy.

Halal and Kosher butchering slice a major vein and bleed the animal out because tradition dictated that procedure was the least cruel way to do it without causing the animal to suffer, compared to other traditional methods – i.e. strangulation. The fact that in the intervening centuries, we’ve developed stunning techniques that are even more humane doesn’t change religious tradition. And bleeding out from the uterus definitely sounds like an animal suffering, mechanism similarity notwithstanding. I’d assume strict Jews and Muslims would be quite insulted if you said, “Pfft. It bled out, who cares from which end. Same ju-ju sky wizard dealie.”

Such a cow would not and could not be either kosher or hallal. Those traditions require that the animal be standing when its throat is cut as well as being in good health. I’m not as familiar with hallal regulations, but kosher also involves inspecting the innards for signs of disease as well. Hallal might also require this, I just don’t know either way.

Otherwise - the usability would depend upon local law and custom. In the US, it could probably be used for something like dog food, but not for human consumption.

Given, as you said, the cow wasn’t exactly sick but rather died of an injury a farmer might butcher for himself and his family, but may not be able to sell the meat.

If the animal died of accidental bloodloss or an injury caused by giving birth (as opposed to some sort of injury that causes ruptured bowels) I don’t see how it’d be different than the department of fish and game giving away confiscated animals that died in questionable circumstances.

I recall my dad buying half of a milk cow that had broken it’s leg and was put down when we were a kid, the farmer took the other half for his family. I recall them committing that the meat would mostly be put into hamburger since it’s wasn’t raised to be butchered and thus not fattened up like a beef critter would. Still we got some steaks and stew meat out of it. This was back in the seventies, but I don’t see why individual farmers wouldn’t still do this.

[anecdote]Most of my mother’s side of the family are/were farmers and most kept some smallish number of cattle. One year, both of the cows that my uncle Paul kept died within 48 hours of each other while calving. I was tasked with helping to transport the first carcass to the local meat processor to be turned into stew meat. She was a tough old beast but made some very tasty chili. Disposition of the second animal was more problematic as the butcher was already at capacity and couldn’t take it. Not sure what Paul did with it but I know he did harvest and sell the hide from it.[/anecdote]

I believe that Michigan stopped giving a away deer that had been hit by cars because of problems with too many broken bones. But I believe they still let Native Americans have the remains for making use of the pelts and antlers in crafts and religious items. I also recall my cousin using a deers rib cage for his Halloween zombie costume, it still had dead meat hanging from it. He won first prize with it because of the flies following him around. :slight_smile:

My Daddy’s people were farmers. His dad had chicken houses for laying hens. They ate lots of eggs and chicken. He was tasked with picking up dead hens everyday. I assume if they had a cow die, they would eat that, too.

I picked up my share of dead hens growing up. They were burned in the incinerator. As for cows, for.a.while there was a company that made those who met an untimely end into pet food. After that place closed we had to bury them.

Thanks for all the responses.

So it may be that the family might use the meat, but it’s not likely that, in the USA anyway, it would hit the market. I suppose other family members might also benefit.

But it’s just as likely to be a total loss.

Thanks again.

It’s according to how hungry you are, I suppose. My Daddy grew up during the depression. You didn’t waste what could be used. He never, I mean never, ate chicken as an adult. Just could not abide it.

Just curious: What happened to the calves, or do you know?

I remember a woman I worked with many years ago whose husband farmed, and they lost a cow (and her calf) this way. Don’t remember what they did with the calf, but she told me that the cow was butchered, and IIRC the people who helped with it divided up the meat.

Some people who also keep chickens put various innards, and even dead chickens, into the maggot bucket, to be turned into larval flies which chickens seem to really like.

In the show the folks loaded the calf into a side by side ATV and they were going to try and save it.

I know the first one didn’t survive. No idea about the second.

On the Dr. Pol show they are always dealing with cows and pigs with innards on the outside. It amazes me how they save any. It just seems so traumatic. He has them where the artery bursts and they bleed out in minutes.
ETA you can hand raise a calf, yum! Veal cutlets.

Which part did your dad get… the front half or the udder half?

It was one of their reruns, Deja Moo, that prompted the question. Of course even if they use the meat, the cow might have gone on for many more years providing milk and additional calves.

I love that show though.

I had family that were dairy farmers. One story I remember is that a cow stepped into a hole and broke its leg. So a basic butchering job was done next to a tarp in the field to get pieces that were small enough to transport. The family used the meat and shared with neighbors. As noted, dairy cow meat is often ground for hamburger, used as stew meat, etc. Think of it as a large deer that you’re processing into venison. (Which they also did/do.)

Given the “field” circumstances, I don’t see a modern slaughterhouse taking the meat, even to process and return to the farmer.

If you’re in the cattle/dairy business, you’ll have your own “system” for salvaging usable meat.

Depending on what kind of time and resources you’re willing to invest, sure. It may not be worth it though.

Also note that there is a huge difference in calf mortality between a calf that spent a few days on mother’s milk and one that never had the chance.

Car-killed moose in Anchorage are donated to Alaska Native organizations.