Oct. 16 2012 12:52 AM

Many products come from our bovine friends.

by-product image of a cow
We all know that dairy provides food and nutrition to millions each day in the form of milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt. When a milk cow is finished producing milk, she is a great resource for more products. At this stage, 99 percent of the cow can then be used for other products. Most widely known is meat, but there are several that you might not have known about. Pasta, cake mixes and marshmallows also have their origins in livestock.

Don't forget about the other products cattle provide as by-products, like sporting equipment, balls and mitts. It takes 3,000 cows to supply the National Football League with enough leather for all the footballs for just one season.

The shaving creams, perfumes, deodorants and soaps keeping your loved ones clean and fresh would not be possible without cattle. Hard to imagine even a day without soap! Clean clothes are washed with detergent and fabric softeners, also by-products. Beauty may be skin deep but cosmetics and lipstick have their roots in animal by-products.

Like the arts? Violin strings, drum heads and piano keys make their music from cattle. Photography film and paint leave impressions from their origins. Those crayons your children or grandchildren find so much fun drawing with, and the pride you show when that artwork is on your refrigerator…all from a cow.

Your home comes from cattle if you have insulation or have used wallpaper paste to decorate your home. Floor wax is added to this growing household group.

Medically speaking, there are health-related products, too. Trypsin is used to clean wounds and ulcers; corticotrophin treats allergies, arthritis and respiratory diseases; iron treats anemia; thrombin for blood clotting; glucagon for hypoglycaemia; fibrinolysin treats blood clots within the cardiovascular system; pancreatin treats infants with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and a host of many more. Vitamin capsules, too! If for preventative options, surgery or for research, cattle by-products make differences in lives everywhere.

The history of vaccines and immunization starts with the story of Edward Jenner, a country doctor living in England, who in 1796 performed the world's first vaccination. His work with cowpox, affecting dairymaids, laid the foundation for modern vaccinology. Vaca is "cow" in Latin. Louis Pasteur's work expanded the term vaccination beyond its Latin association with cows and cowpox to include all inoculating agents. To a large degree, Pasteur is to thank for today's definition of vaccine to induce immunity and prevent infectious disease. These two men have significantly impacted not only the dairy industry, but human health around the world.

How did you get to work today? If you traveled a road paved with asphalt you were utilizing the by-product of a dairy cow. And, antifreeze, car polish, upholstery and those tires, thank a cow for those, too. Flew to your last destination? Airplane lubricants and runway foam helped you arrive safely. If you walked to work, chalk up boots and shoes to the list.

If you print this blog, then you will use even more by-products including the ink and paper whitener.

So, the next time someone thinks a cow just produces milk, be sure to share with them the abundance of items they use every single day to make their life more enjoyable.

Here are some resources for you.
Activity for 6th to 8th graders.
Collection of articles and information.