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Animals play very important roles in our lives – roles that are highly underestimated and under-utilized in Nigeria. Animals can be kept as pets, raised as food and also provide products that are important to our everyday life. As you read on, you would be very surprised at how many things come from each of the following animals.


Beef is definitely one of the most widely consumed meat in Nigeria. Beef cattle provide different cuts of meat that many of us eat every day. These include ribs, steak, fillet mignon and ground beef. Beef cattle also provides us with the treasured delicacy of inu eran which is basically the cattle offal including intestines, lungs, spleen, liver etc.

Dairy cows are another type of cattle that provide us with nutritional products. There are many different dairy products but some you might be most familiar with include milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream. Other dairy products include sour cream, cottage cheese, whey, cream cheese, and condensed milk. Dairy products are often consumed (after processing) in its entirety or used in cooking and baking. They contain calcium, which can help to strengthen your bones.

When dairy animals can no longer produce milk, they are often used for meat, primarily in the form of ground beef. It is possible to get the same cuts of meat from a dairy cow that you do a beef animal. Male dairy calves, called bull calves, that are not used for beef are often used for veal. Veal is meat from younger animals and is very lean (that is, has little fat). It is considered a delicacy in many western countries.

There are various by-products that come from all types of cattle. They include;

  • Tallow; which is fat from cattle, and it is used in wax paper, crayons, margarine, paints, rubber, lubricants, candles, soaps, lipsticks, shaving creams, and other cosmetics.
  • Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones of cattle in water. Gelatin is used in shampoos, face masks and other cosmetics. Gelatin is also used in foods as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (like Jell-O), candies and marshmallows.
  • Leather comes from the hides of animals. It is used to make wallets, purses, furniture, shoes and car upholstery. Leather can be made from the skin of pigs, cattle, sheep, goats and exotic species such as alligators.



In Nigeria, pork may be no-no among our Muslim brethren and in northern Nigeria, but on a global scale, pork is the most widely consumed meat in the world. People eat many different pork products, such as bacon, sausage, ham and pork chops. In addition to pork, several valuable products come from pigs. These include insulin for the regulation of diabetes, valves for human heart surgery, suede for shoes and clothing, and gelatin for foods and non-food uses. Pig by-products are also important parts of products such as water filters, insulation, rubber, antifreeze, certain plastics, floor waxes, crayons, chalk, adhesives and fertilizer. Lard is fat from pig abdomens and it is commonly used in shaving creams, soaps, make-up, baked goods and other foods.



Poultry meat, especially broiler meat, is also widely consumed in Nigeria. Meat from chickens can come in many different forms such as BBQ, wings, nuggets, boneless, roasted or fried, just to name a few. Chickens also produce eggs which serve as a source of protein and are used in baking. Eggs are also used to produce therapeutic vaccines and to produce antibodies and pharmacological proteins in medical research

Some lesser-known members of the poultry family include turkeys, ducks and geese. We use all three of these animals for meat production. In the western world, Turkey is growing in popularity as a lean protein and alternative products, such as turkey bacon and sausage, are available.

The eggs from all three of these species are safe to eat; they are sometimes just larger in size or a different color than traditional chicken eggs. Feathers from ducks and geese are also used as stuffing and decorations in jackets and pillows.



Sheep produce a wide variety of items that people use. Like cows, sheep produce milk that is safe for people to drink. This milk can be made into cheese, yoghurt, and various other dairy products.

Sheep provide meat in the form of lamb, which is from an animal less than a year old, or mutton, which is from an animal older than a year. Sheep meat is mainly consumed in Europe and the Mid-East, but sheep are mainly raised in Australia and New Zealand.

Sheep Shearing – Other than meat, wool is one of the most commonly known products from sheep. Wool is sheep hair that is shaved off during hot weather. After processing, wool can be made into lots of different things, such as shirts, socks, yarn for knitting and tennis ball covers. Wool is also used as an oil absorbent in oil spills.

After slaughter, sheep skins are turned into leather used in car upholstery, clothing, and shoes. The bones, hooves and horns of sheep are also used to make products such as gelatin, tape, brushes, and pet food ingredients.



Meat from goats is a type of red meat and can come in many different cuts from the animal. Goat meat is not widely consumed in the United States, but it is a popular protein source in developing countries. In Nigeria, goat meat is in fact, a popular delicacy including the head of goat, widely known as isi ewu.

Goats also produce milk that can be made into cheese, yogurt, soap and baby formula. Goat’s milk is a good replacement for babies who are allergic to cow’s milk.

Soft cashmere comes from the wool of certain types of goats called cashmere goats. Other types of goats, such as Angora goats, also produce wool, but it is a different texture than cashmere. All wools can be used to make clothing such as sweaters, socks and scarves.



Typically, horses are thought of as fun animals to ride, or to help farmers herd animals. However, there are other uses for horses that vary around the world. In the country of Kazakhstan, milk from horses is consumed and is often fermented into a drink called Kumis. Meat from horses is also consumed in many countries around the world.  Horse meat is popular in the region of Central Asia.



You may be surprised to learn that rabbits provide fur and meat. Angora rabbits are a type of rabbit that have long fur. People obtain their fur by combing them. This fur can be turned into yarn, socks and other clothing. Rabbits can also be raised for meat and rabbit stew, made with cuts from rabbit meat, is well consumed in Nigeria


Fish and seafood

The oceans, lakes, rivers and streams of the world provide us with different types of nutritious foods. Nigeria has a wide variety of frozen (imported) and fresh fish in different localities that we consume generously. Fish is usually considered a cheaper alternative to beef in Nigeria, even though some fish are actually more expensive to purchase. Nevertheless, fish is a rich and even healthier source of protein than beef.

Fish serve as a source of protein. Fish eggs, called caviar, are also used as food, and are considered a delicacy. Fish oils are a by-product of fish and are said to improve mental health, decrease the risk of cancer, and increase heart health. Seafood can also include products such as shrimp, squid, mussels, clams, and crab.



Bees play a vital role in the food you eat even if you may not realize it. Honey bees help crops grow by pollinating plants. In the United State Agriculture, the value of honey bee pollination is more than 14 billion dollars annually. In Nigeria, honey production from bees is a viable source of income for a lot of people. Bees also make honey from the nectar of plants which is collected by bee keepers. Honey can be used as a healthy alternative and all-natural sweetener (instead of table sugars), for our teas, coffees, pap and custard.

It can also be used as a sweetener in hand lotions, soaps, natural cough suppressant, and also as a natural form of energy. Honey is also a source of the carbohydrates that provide energy to your muscles. Bees also produce beeswax which is used to make candles, lipstick, lotions, shoe polish, crayons, chewing gum and floor wax.


It is quite obvious from this list that apart from consuming food animals, when we use their by-products resourcefully, we can reduce waste and be more environmentally friendly. We can  take some of the items that would otherwise be thrown away, and develop it into major sources of income, while turning them into something that benefits our health, environment and society.


Adapted from Animal Smart



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