I’m a huge fan of The Office — the Ninja and I own all the seasons on DVD and I am fairly adept at whipping out a Michael Scott quote in the middle of a conversation. One of the many reasons I love the show is that on the show Dwight is a beet (yes, beet. not beef) farmer so from time to time they make agricultural references about farming or slaughter. I’ve posted about it before here.
Last week, Dwight talked about his office co-workers not knowing the difference between a slaughter plant and a rendering plant and I thought that most people are probably unaware so here we go.
Slaughter and Rendering Plant 101
A slaughter plant is a facility where animals that are at an appropriate market weight are sent to be processed into retail cuts of meat. There are numerous plants throughout the United States to accommodate the different species of livestock animals. For example, in southwest Kansas there are slaughter plants that receive cattle from the surrounding feedlots and from the panhandle of Oklahoma.
In northwest Missouri the pork slaughter plant is positioned so that it can accept pigs from all different areas of the corn belt. And there are even processing plants for lambs and goats in places such as Colorado, Montana and Michigan. There are currently no horse slaughter plants in the U.S. — that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.
Of course, we can’t forget about poultry plants. There are a ton of them in the southern U.S. where a large percentage of poultry broiler farms are – Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina etc.
There are even plants that can do more than one specie and did you know there are slaughter plants for bison and elk? I thought that was pretty cool.
So what’s the difference between a slaughter plant and a rendering facility? A slaughter plant breaks down the whole carcass into cuts of meat, whereas a rendering facility produces a variety of by-products. There are two types of rendering facilities – independent and integrated. An independent plant is one that picks up grease, blood, feathers and offal (internal organs and entrails) for further processing and development. Integrated facilities are physically connected to the slaughter plant and operate in conjunction with each other. The by-products of slaughter are used to make several essential products that fall into two categories: edible and inedible.
Below is a list of what types of products fall under each area.
— Inedible: tallow and grease for livestock feed, blood meal, soap and fatty-acids.
— Edible: these plants process fatty animal tissue into edible fats and proteins. The only material that goes into these products (which are USDA and FSIS inspected) are fats from the animals carcass.
THERE IS NO BONE OR OTHER INEDIBLE MATERAL THAT ENTERS THE EDIBLE FOOD SUPPLY
Rendering and its subsequent products play a vital role in agriculture – rendered products account for approximately 35% of the fats and oils used worldwide. More than 1/2 of the world’s animal fat is produced in North America. Furthermore, rendering is a very efficient way to control environmental pollution. For example, with today’s technology it is possible to recycle nearly 100% of inedible poultry raw material. Rendering products also creates competition in the market for animal feeds, preventing producers from being forced to choose between few options that are expensive.
If you want more information about the whole process of rendering, check out these links. There is a lot of science and technology behind the whole process – steam, boilers, throughput etc – this is a great resource to find out more about the technicalities if you’re interested.
Hope you’ve learned a lot – I know I did while researching this topic. If you’ve got questions or comments, shout ’em out!
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
P.S. – interested in the difference between harvest and slaughter? Check this out.