Food - Drink
Do People Eat Dairy Cows?
Dairy cows are used to produce milk, and subsequently cream, butter, cheese, and more, but you may wonder if these cows are ever butchered and sold as beef. This question is coming to the forefront of the food industry as of 2022, and a growing number of companies are partnering with farmers to make better use of "retired" dairy cows.
Today, around 21% of America's dairy cows are sold into the commodity beef market and turned into cheap, low-quality ground beef. This has created a stigma that cows bred for dairy have inherently low-quality meat compared to those bred for beef, but this is untrue, and some producers are placing high value on meat from dairy cows.
Dairy cows live longer than their sole-purpose beef brethren, meaning their meat is allowed to mature and develop a complex, highly desirable flavor. Dairy cows are often raised organically, free of hormones and pesticides, and if used for milk and meat, a dairy cow can provide 80,000 pounds of food, compared to 600 pounds from an all-beef cow.
Companies like Mindful Meats and Butter Meat Co. are attempting to get more food and less waste out of their cows by using them for both dairy and meat. At the moment, a somewhat narrow portion of dairy cows are used for meat on a mass-produced scale, but in the near future, the industry may shift to support multi-purpose animals.