Animal By-Products – Types, Examples, Lists and Uses

Table of Contents

Animal By-product Definition

Animal by-products or byproducts refer to anything derived from the body of livestock/animals after slaughtering and processing that is different from the meat (muscle). They are also called livestock byproducts or coproducts.

What are animal by-products?

When discussed in detail, livestock by-products have different definitions based on your geographical location. For instance, in the European Union, animal by products are defined as materials derived from animals that cannot be consumed. This means in European countries, milk, eggs, and fats are not livestock by-products but in the United States of America, they are considered as by-products. Therefore, the use of the animal product determines whether it is a by-product or not in the EU; for instance, the use of eggs for the production of animal feeds makes the eggs to be classified as by-products because they are not used for human consumption.

Some animals by-products are used as ingredients in the production of many other products; when used as ingredients in production, animal by products can be referred to as animal-derived ingredients.

Products formed from the decomposition of animals such as fossil fuels (gas or coal) or petroleum are not considered to be animal by-products.

Coproducts and Byproducts

Livestock co-products or Animal co-products are materials that are obtained from animals during the manufacturing process; co-products are expected or desired to be produced during processing and the steps to achieving the co-products are similar to that of the final product; whereas livestock byproducts refer to the materials obtained after processing and maybe accidental product that needs to be processed differently from the intended product. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably; the important thing to note is that both co-products and byproducts of animals are all derived or obtained from animals and both are useful.

Economic and Environmental Importance of Livestock By-products

Efficient use of animal by-products has a great economic benefit and also helps control environmental pollution. The by-products can be processed and sold to earn money; some can be exported and therefore helps the GDP of the country.

Use of livestock byproducts such as bones or skin help to get rid of pollutants in the environment and reduces the cost of waste disposal. Pollution caused by animal by-products can cause health problems too especially respiratory problems.

List of Animal By-products

  • Fat
  • Skin or Flesh
  • Blood
  • Milk
  • Whey
  • Eggs
  • Gelatin
  • Animal organs such as the pancreas, bones, blood, pituitary gland, and liver are used for extracting many pharmaceutical substances.

There are many animal by-products with various uses depending on the type of animal; the above-listed byproducts are very common and are further explained below. For a list of other products derived from animals and their uses, see details in the last section of this article.


Gelatin is an edible livestock by-product obtained from the skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments of pigs or cattle. It is made by boiling these animal parts in water. It has numerous applications or uses in the cosmetic and beauty industry as well as the food industry. Gelatin is used in so many food recipes such as gelatin desserts, making candies, marshmallows, jellies, and ice creams; it is also useful in the production of ointments, cosmetics, making of the covering for capsules, photographic films, and in paper production.

The head of match sticks uses gelatine as a binder and also used in making sandpaper.


  • The tires of vehicles are manufactured from stearic acid, which is derived from fat.
  • Glycerol, a byproduct of animal fat is used in the production of toothpaste, antifreeze, plastics, and paints.
  • Fatty acids derived from animal fat are important in the production of soap and detergents, herbicides, asphalt, and insecticides. It is also an ingredient in paints and lubricants. Even in car polish, shaving creams, perfumes, and deodorants, the fatty acid is used.
  • Rendered animal fat known as Tallow was initially used in the production of candles and soaps but has now gained application in the production of lipsticks and banknotes made of polymer. Tallow is used for these purposes because it is common and readily available and it is waxy in nature.

List of animal by-products manufactured from Fats

  • Candles
  • Linoleum
  • Shoe Cream
  • Cellophane
  • Mouthwash
  • Shaving Cream
  • Ceramics
  • Detergents and Soaps
  • Cosmetics
  • Synthetic Rubber
  • Pet Foods
  • Crayons
  • Floor Wax
  • Deodorants
  • Perfumes
  • Toothpaste
  • Insecticides
  • Paints
  • Paper
  • Insulation Plastics


Adhesives for making plywood or wood veneer are produced using albumen in blood plasma. Blood is also used in making blood biscuits, blood meals, and blood sausages. Some human blood substitutes are produced from animal blood and even some reagents used for laboratory tests are produced from the blood of animals.


Another name for products derived from milk is Lacticinia; Milk as a by-product of livestock has numerous uses. Some of which may include:

  • The production of cheese.
  • Milk is also needed in the production of heavy cream (whipping cream),  butter, double cream, or any type of cream used in baking.
  • For making yogurt
  • In making of pudding, custard, ice cream
  • Milk is used for baking and many other recipes.
  • Casein, a protein obtained from milk is used for the production of latex condoms and also important for tooth repair in dentistry. Casein is also used as a base for making paints, plastics, and glues.


Whey is the liquid part of milk that is produced after the cheese has been made. The whey is rich in protein and very important in the manufacture of whipping agents, emulsifiers, and water-binders.


Ovum oil (also called egg oil or egg yolk oil) is used as a preservative (antibacterial agent) and also serves as a skin conditioner and moisturizer. Lecithin is an additive found in many foods and can be extracted from eggs; there are other animal and plant sources of lecithin as well.

Fish By-Products

Fish is a very good source of protein to humans and the by-products have corresponding economic and health importance. When fish wastes are treated, they can be converted into various by-products.

List of Fish waste or Fish by products

  1.  Fishbones and flesh are used in Animal feed production. The bones provide calcium and the flesh is a good source of protein.
  2. Biodiesel or biogas can be produced from the organic matter of fish when broken down in the absence of oxygen – leading to carbon and methane production. The methane can be used for cooking.
  3. Dietetic products such as infant formulae, nutritional foods for sports, food for the elderly, and bodybuilding products can be made from fish by-products.
  4. Fish oil gotten from oily fish such as mackerel, tuna, herring, and salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and is very good for the body especially in lowering triglyceride levels.
  5. Chitosan is a sugar obtained from the outer shell of shellfish such as crab, shrimp, or lobster and it is used for the control of high cholesterol, blood pressure, wound healing, and obesity.
  6. Collagen derived from fish can be used in cosmetics as a healing aid for patients with burns, in bone reconstruction, and as an artificial skin substitute.
  7. Guanine from fish scales is in the production of nail polish and lipsticks.


From the pancreas of animals such as cattle, some important hormones, and pharmaceutical products can be made. Examples of such hormones are listed below:

  1. Insulin – an important hormone made for the regulation or control of blood glucose (sugar levels in the blood).
  2. Chymotrypsin – this helps in wound healing
  3. Pancreatin – promotes food digestion and helps in constipation.
  4. Glucagon – helps to treat low sugar levels in the blood (i.e hypoglycemia)

Pituitary gland

The pituitary glands of animals such as cattle can be used for the extraction of hormones for medical purposes. Some of the hormones include:

  1. Prolactin – this hormone enhances milk release from the mammary glands
  2. Pressor Hormone – helps with the regulation of blood pressure.
  3. Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone (ACTH) – important in the management of arthritis or allergies.

Cattle By product

Cow being milked

List of Cattle by product

  1. Cattle blood is an important cattle by-product that is edible and high in protein and heme iron. Cattle blood can be used for making blood pudding, bread, blood cake, curd, biscuits, and sausages. Blood byproducts are common in Asia and Europe. Cattle by product such as blood can also be used for the production of feedstuff (as blood meal), binders, and fertilizers.
  2. Hides and skins: even in the prehistoric era, animal or cattle skins have been used as sacks, clothing, or shelters. Hides of Cattle is also used in the production of leather shoes, bags, belts, wallets, gloves, gelatine, leather bags, and glues.
  3. Collagen can be derived from cattle hides and skins and used as an emulsifier in meat products because of its ability to bind large quantities of fat. The outer covering of capsules is made with gelatin derived from collagen which is a cattle by-product.
  4. Cattle bones can be used for making soap, usually from the ash derived from the burning of the cattle bones. Steel ball-bearing is made using bone charcoal.
  5. Gallstones – obtained from cattle are used for making necklaces or pendants. These same gallstones are said to have an aphrodisiac effect.
  6. The heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and many other parts of cattle other than the muscle meat are also used for consumption.
  7. Heparin, an important anticoagulant is extracted from the liver, lungs, and lining of the small intestines of cattle.
  8. The hair of cattle is used for making paintbrushes

Pork By Products

  1. Pigskin is used as a skin replacement to cover burns or skin ulcers. The skin of a pig is similar to human skin, hence its use as a dressing for burns. Before being used, the pigskin is sliced into very thin strips with a thickness of about 0.2 to 0.5 mm; the hair on the pigskin is shaved and then cleaned and sanitized before being sealed with sterile packs. If it is to be used for skin grafting, then the pigskin should be removed from the carcass of the pig within 24 hours of slaughter.
  2. The pig ovaries are important sources of progesterone and estrogen which are hormones used in the management of reproductive disorders.
  3. Relaxin is a hormone that helps in the relaxation of the cervix prior to childbirth. It can be extracted from the ovaries of pregnant female pigs known as Sows.
  4. The heart valves of pigs can be used to replace that of humans
  5. The fat gotten from the abdomen of pigs known as Lard is used for the production of cream, soaps, and in baking such as for making patties (where it is used as shortening).

Poultry By products

  1. Poultry feathers can be degraded by a bacterium known as Bacillus licheniformis, this organism ferments the feathers into a digestible protein called feather lysate which is a very good source of protein in feed production.
  2. Birds Litter can be used as organic manure.
  3. Eggshells are used as rich sources of calcium in feed production.

List of other Animal By-products, Uses, and how they are obtained

  1. Catgut is used for the production of surgical sutures and also for making strings in musical instruments or the strings of tennis rackets. The intestines of sheep or horses are twisted and dried and then used for making catgut. Other animals from which catgut can be obtained include: cattle (from the tendons), pigs, goats, mules (or donkeys)
  2. Wool from sheep and cashmere from some species of goats is used for making clothing such as sweaters, scarfs, socks, etc.
  3. Honey is made by Bees can be used as a sweetener, for making soaps, lotions, and also plays an important role in medicine; honey is used for wound dressing because of its antibacterial property and also helps in suppressing cough.
  4. Beeswax is important for making candles, crayons, lipstick, shoe polish, and bubble gums. It is also used for the production of floor wax and lotions.
  5. Castoreum gotten from beavers is used as a flavoring agent in flouring foods and also in perfumes. It was used in medieval times as a scent to attract bees for honey production. Castoreum was used for making vanilla flavoring but has now been replaced by the use of cheaper vanilla pods.
  6. Lanolin – a wax-like substance with a greasy consistency is extracted from the skin of animals with wool such as sheep. Lanolin is used for making creams, lubricants, balms, soaps, lotions, and as a coating for roofs to prevent rust.
  7. Isinglass – this is a type of collagen obtained from fishes most especially the sturgeon and used mainly for fining wine and beer, and also in making glues and jellies. It is eatable and was used in desserts before the production of gelatin which is less expensive to produce compared to isinglass.
  8. Carmine dye – this is also called cochineal extract or crimson lake; it is used in foods (though its use in foods is controversial because it can produce allergies); carmine dye gives a deep red or purple color to foods.
  9. Rennet – it is an enzyme used for the production of cheese. It helps in curdling milk so that cheese is produced. Rennet is gotten from the stomach of ruminant animals. When extracted from a calf, the calf rennet can only be effective for cheese made from cow’s milk; therefore, kid rennet is effective on goat milk and the same with lamb rennet for making cheese from sheep milk.
  10. Swiftlets Nest – some species of birds called Swiftlets can use their saliva to make a nest; this type of nest is edible and can be used for making soup.
  11. Shellac – this is the refined resin extracted from a bug known as Lac insect (Lac Bug) with the scientific name Laccifer lacca; this insect is a parasite that is found on certain trees found in Aisa especially Thailand and India. The resin from the lac bug prior to being refined is called Lac and when refined is called Shellac. When dissolved in alcohol, the liquid form of shellac can be used for glazing food, in wood finishing, in nail polish, and as a colorant.
  12. L-cysteine is an amino acid made from human hair and also from the bristles of pigs. It is an important additive or ingredient in bread and biscuits.
  13. Civet oil (also known as Civet musk)- extracted from both male and female gender of the Viverridae species. It is used as a flavoring in foods and beverages and also known to have sedative as well as aphrodisiac effects.
  14. Civet coffee (Kopi luwak) – produced by the Asian palm civet that eats coffee cherries and then defecates them; the coffee has been fermented in the intestine of the Asian palm civet and are wash and processed.
  15. Venoms from animals such as snakes are used for the production of Antivenoms.
  16. Limulus amebocyte lysate – is a chemical obtained from the blood of the horseshoe crab. This substance helps to detect the presence of bacterial endotoxins in injections or medical devices, to ensure they are free of bacterial toxins prior to packaging.
  17. Mink oil is derived from minks and used for making hair and skincare products. It is what gives smoothness to hand sanitizers.
  18. Ambergris is produced from the digestive system of sperm whales and useful in the perfume industry because it serves as a fixative (making the scent last longer).
  19. Adrenaline is a hormone that helps in the management of anaphylaxis when injected into the body. It is usually produced from the adrenal glands of cattle, sheep, and hogs.