With each bite they took, bovines participated in the energy economy of mid-twentieth century China. Humans extracted milk, meat, leather, and labor from cattle, water buffaloes, and yaks. Yet the animals were not only sources of resources and muscle power for humans. They were also consumers. From farmers to local cadres to supreme leaders, the human counterparts of bovines tried to shape and satisfy the dietary needs and preferences of the animals. To produce more and stronger cattle, humans dramatically modified the nation’s landscapes and experimented with a variety of feeding systems. These efforts initially helped to increase the bovine population, especially in especially in hinterlands of the northwest and southwest that had not previously been used for intensive cattle grazing. They also reshaped the bacterial ecology of bovine digestive tracts, creating an "internal Anthropocene." Yet while cattle benefitted from an expanding food supply, they also suffered and died when officials mismanaged their feeding and diverted food energy to other groups of consumers during the rapid collectivization and industrial development of the 1950s.