Missouri Dairy Business Update Commercial Agriculture
Volume 4, Number 1
January 2004

What to do with "Downer Cows" now?

Every dairyman has heard the news that since the BSE Cow was found in Washington no "downer" or non-ambulatory cows will be accepted for slaughter. The joke I've heard often among dairymen is that, "well our family is going to be eating lots of hamburger now." That may be true, but only if dairymen are willing to slaughter, dress and package the animals themselves.

According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the current Federal Food Safety Inspection Service ban on non-ambulatory cows going into the human food chain extends to all federally inspected, state inspected and custom slaughter plants.

In practice it means that no downer cows can be delivered for custom slaughter and further that no downer cows may be farm killed and taken to custom slaughter plants. No downer animals of any kind are currently being allowed to go through a slaughter plant.

This leaves the question of what to do with downer cows. As of this moment, the best information on disposal is contained in the Dead Animal Disposal Guide to be found at: http://muextension.missouri.edu/explore/envqual/wq0216.htm

A list of rendering plants allowed to operate in Missouri can be found on the Missouri Department of Agriculture's website at http://www.mda.state.mo.us/Animals/b2a.htm

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