Cattle: The Ultimate Upcyclers

Every day, cattle graze and unknowingly turn natural resources like solar energy and pastureland into high-quality proteins and other invaluable products. They’re upcyclers that take otherwise useless materials, add nutritional and environmental value, and transform them into something more — a better product in disguise.

What is Upcycling?

  • A little bit of “reduce, reuse, recycle” and a lot of cattle’s unique digestive system.
  • About 90% of what cattle eat cannot be digested by humans.
  • Cattle consume those inedible plants and transform them into high-quality, nutrient-rich protein.

How Do Cattle Upcycle?

Cows don’t eat as much as they “snack.” They graze on the copious plants native to their surroundings that humans can’t eat. They use their unique, four-compartment stomachs and digestive systems to gain nutritional value from the feed and forage. Their digestive systems house trillions of microbes that share a symbiotic relationship with the animals, allowing them to benefit from low-quality feed and forages that other animals can’t digest.

Impact: A Circular Economy

  1. Reduced Landfill – Cattle can feed on byproducts from biofuel and food production industries, such as distiller grains and wheat millings, reducing the volume of waste going to landfills.
  2. More than Meat – More than 44% of an animal’s live weight transforms into other goods such as: Leather, Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics, Pet food
  3. An Improved Ecosystem – Properly managed cattle grazing can improve rangeland and wildlife habitats. As the global population continues to grow, ruminant animals like beef cattle can help us make more protein with less.

To learn more about the upcycling process and cattle’s role in sustainability, visit

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