A ranch that produces not just beef, but medical parts

Just south of the Oregon border in Macdoel, California, the Prather Ranch has made a successful business not just selling top quality beef — but parts for the medical industry. “The hides are used to make purified collagen used in cell research. And the bones? Some have been made into screws for knee surgery,” reports Lisa Morehouse in FERN’s latest story, produced in collaboration with KQED’s The California Report.

Companies come to Prather Ranch for lots of bovine parts, co-owner Mary Rickert says. “We’ve done all the way from pituitary glands to eyeballs to uteri to pericardium.” They are able to meet the stringent requirements of the medical industry by having a closed herd, keeping the genetics of the population distinct.

Some years they’ve made more money selling beef byproducts for medical use, than they’ve made selling beef for steaks, roasts and hamburgers.