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spa for cows (Read 17636 times)
05/31/07 at 23:01:05
nom   Ex Member

 
Hi there,

I continute with the cows for a while...

I heard of a trend to play classical music to cows and give them a massage - In Kobe, Japan, massage with sake, in the UK, with beer.

My questions:

- Does massage with alcohol really affects the quality of the meat? I would assume it only affects the softmess of the skin, for a short while. Is it different than a simple massage without alcohol? And is there a difference in the meat of massaged vs. not massaged cows in terms of tenderness and taste?

- Some also give the cows alcohol  to drink, to increase their appetite. Is alcohol known for a fact to increase appetites?

- What about the classical music? I understand it's for relaxing the cows, and this is supposed to lead them into giving more milk and to more tender meat. I understand a pre-mortem muscle should be unworked in order to be tender (so all lactic acid is created post-mortem and then helps tenderize meat, as opposed to some of it being produced in the active muscle and thus less tenderizing is in effect post-mortem, right?); isn't there an opposite effect, of being too tender?

Thanks,
Nom
 
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Reply #1 - 06/03/07 at 23:28:34
Luc_H   Ex Member

 
Hi Nom,

The answer you seek is not as simplistic as to use alcohol or not, to play music or not, etc..
I know enough to attempt an explanation to your questions.

Many factors contribute to meat tenderness and the more factors are covered the more tender the meat can be.  Before  I start enumerating, it is important to understand that not all muscles in a carcass can be tender due to their function.  Seldom strongly contracted muscles, like in the loin and deep lower back area, are tender because they are never maintained contracted.  Also muscles are not composed with the same muscle fibers.  Depending on function, muscles are composed of slow yet strongly contracting cells or quick acting cells or a combination.  It is possible, to a certain extent, to <train> muscles to be more of the jerking type or the marathon type.   That would be the difference between a sprinter and marathoner.  Although both are humans and built basically with the same muscles they cannot switch to the others sport without alot of (muscle) training.


That being said, many factors affect the tenderness of meat:
genetics (a big factor)
animal age (younger=tender)
feed
health
fat content (corn fed cows are fatter)
meat aging (supermarket meat is aged around 15 to 20 days, premium restaurant meat is aged 21 to 28+ days)
general well being of the animal (stressed animals have their bodies flooded with stress hormones)

If you can control these factors (I am sure the Japanese do because they are perfectionists) then massages, alcohol and music won't hurt and may add a little touch more to tenderness.  Regardless of the technique, I doubt that the shoulder cut will be that much tender is those cows considering those muscles are always strained to maintain the animal balance.

2 more things: Meat raising in America is an industrial process meaning the goal is high yields and output not quality.  The animal's wellfare is irrelevant.

Second, cows are herbivores not rodents so they are not meant to eat grains.  Almost all cows raised for meat in America are fed corn which they cannot digest without adding digestive enzymes in their feed.  The animals are constantly sick because they are eating food they are not meant to eat making them obese and require daily antibiotics because their immune system is weak.  They are cramped, cannot roam and stand knee deep in manure all day until they are slaughtered.  We eat under-exercised teenage obese stressed out depressed antibiotic laced meat.  Then we wonder why our society is out of shape obese stressed depressed and antibiotic resistance is getting out of control.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, unworked and unstressed muscles retain more glycogen which in the absence of air (post-mortem) will create lactic acid within the muscle fibers (in situ) that is also a factor to tenderize meat.

The lactic acid in muscle is always limited so I doubt any muscle can be too tender but I would guess that aging meat too long would do that.... but that would be considered decomposition. 

(sorry I got carried away)

Luc H
 
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Reply #2 - 06/05/07 at 05:20:11
nom   Ex Member

 
Thanks, Luc, for another wonderful answer!
Smiley
 
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Reply #3 - 06/09/07 at 00:03:00
nom   Ex Member

 
Hi Luc,

I re-read your answer with more attention now, and what you say about the feeding of cows is scary. I knew about the antibiotics, but never thought about the feed. If I remember correctly, they are also fed with minced bones of dead cows, for the calcium, and this is what caused the dead-cow disease to spread.

Is it the same with chicken? They also get a lot of antibiotics. Are they also fed unnatural for them food?

I buy organic chicken whenever I can for this reason. I haven't found yet organic beef.

Nom
 
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Reply #4 - 06/09/07 at 10:27:31
Luc_H   Ex Member

 
Hi Nom,

Your instincts are good Nom because chickens should also not eat grains but grass and larvae (bugs).

A great book that explains this concept and how are food choices affect the environment and the economy is The omnivore's Dilemma by Micheal Pollan.  Very enlightening.

Mad cow was mostly transmitted by feeding actual dead cow meat to cows.  A similar brain wasting disease had been identified in sheep 100 years ago called scrappy.  That problem was solved by stopping to feed dead sheep to sheep but never applied to cows.  (there is a theory that says scrappy sheep were maybe fed to cows).

Organic is quite overrated.  In the case of beef it should be grass fed only.  (most of the beef raised in Argentina are free range pasture fed cattle not in the US anymore).

You will have a different opinion of organic chickens once you read Michael Pollan's book.

Luc
 
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Reply #5 - 12/24/09 at 02:29:14
blastocyst   Ex Member

 
Quote:
- Does massage with alcohol really affects the quality of the meat? I would assume it only affects the softmess of the skin, for a short while. Is it different than a simple massage without alcohol? And is there a difference in the meat of massaged vs. not massaged cows in terms of tenderness and taste?

I'm virtually certain that the alcohol will have no effect.  Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin (nicotine patches, for example) but why would sake happen to be effective?  If sake was effective, why would beer also work?  If the important ingredient is alcohol, wouldn't the farmers just rub in alcohol?
I suspect this is more about creating a mystique than about measurable quality of meat.  It just sounds luxurious, doesn't it?

Quote:
- Some also give the cows alcohol  to drink, to increase their appetite. Is alcohol known for a fact to increase appetites?

I have seen some evidence that alcohol decreases appetite, although it was not particularly conclusive.  I'm by no means an expert in this field, but I could try to look up the references if anyone is interested.  Either way, I would hardly advocate giving booze to cows from both an ethical standpoint and a practical one: I lived on a farm when I was a kid and cows can be belligerent enough without plying them with drink.

Quote:
- What about the classical music? I understand it's for relaxing the cows, and this is supposed to lead them into giving more milk and to more tender meat.


Oh, I think I've come across a word limit...
 
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Reply #6 - 12/25/09 at 13:54:33
Johnkj   Ex Member

 
Happy Holidays

From John
 
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Reply #7 - 12/27/09 at 04:53:10
blastocyst   Ex Member

 
Quote:
Happy Holidays

From John


You too.  I'm English: none of my holidays are happy, almost by definition.
 
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Reply #8 - 12/27/09 at 21:53:38
hera williams   Ex Member

 
yum! yum! with all the food conversation thing it kinda makes me feel hungry..
 
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Reply #9 - 12/30/09 at 22:02:24
yamada   Ex Member

 
Hi, Luc
Your answer is perfect, very helpful for me. Roll Eyes
Thanks!
 
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Reply #10 - 09/21/10 at 11:32:47
jamesbrooke   Ex Member

 
Very Nice!
 
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Reply #11 - 09/29/10 at 06:19:28

nigrilaforever90   Offline
Full Member
Welcome to Cooking!

Posts: 104
***
 
Spa for COWS!!!  Tongue you guys just blow my mind.
 
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Reply #12 - 11/24/10 at 23:36:04
casey   Ex Member

 
Thanks, Luc, for another wonderful answer!
 
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Reply #13 - 11/25/10 at 19:03:52
bayawak   Ex Member

 
you are wonderful answer!
 
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Reply #14 - 11/26/10 at 01:34:40
sontog   Ex Member

 
mmm very nice Grin
 
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