Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

In the United States, millions of tons of animal by-products are produced annually. In the past, the only options for using the by-products were as rendered products for use in animal diets or disposal in landfills. New uses of meat and bone meal are being explored, including its use as a fuel or a phosphorus fertilizer. More recently, researchers at South Carolina’s Clemson University have been looking at the use of meat and bone meal in petroleum-free bioplastics that can be used in items such as skis and snowboards.

Slaughter by-products are routinely recycled for use in animal feeds. They are cooked (rendered) to produce a nutritional and economical feed ingredient. The by-products used in feeds include meat trimmings, inedible parts and organs, fetuses, and certain condemned carcasses. It is important to note that blood, hair, hoofs, horns, manure, stomach contents, and hide trimmings are not used in the production of meat meal. When bones are added to meat meal, it is considered meat and bone meal.

There are a number of different types of meat and bone meal. The raw materials in meat and bone meal in the United States are typically beef and pork by-products. High-quality meat and bone meal is usually guaranteed to contain a minimum of 50% protein content. Lower quality meat and bone meals are available that contain a minimum of 45% protein content.

Meat and bone meal is an excellent source of protein. In poultry diets, meat and bone meal is typically limited to less than 5% of the diet content because of the high calcium, phosphorus, and lysine content of the meal.

Nutrient content of slaughterhouse by-products (Source: Feedstuffs Ingredient Analysis Table: 2016 edition of the Feedstuffs Reference Issue, by Amy Batal and Nick Dale, University of Georgia)

Meat and bone meal, 45%92237545.08.52.511.000.532.20
Meat and bone meal, 50%93253050.
Meat meal, 55%93268555.

DM = Dry matter, %; Energy = kcal/kg; CP = crude protein, %; EE = Crude fat (ether extract), %; CF = Crude fiber, %; Ca = Calcium, %; Met = Methionine, %; Lys = Lysine, %