Did you know that the way you slaughter your animals contributes to how tough or tender the meat would end up? Did you also know that if you slaughter your animals the proper way, you end up with meat with good quality that lasts longer. Well, now you know.
There are other factors that contribute to the quality and toughness of meat – some of which are, the age of the animal before slaughter, how the carcass is handled after slaughter and the part of the animal the meat is cut from. Some parts have more specialized muscle because they were used very much more than others. I will talk about these in other posts.
I am emphasizing on this slaughtering because, as consumers, it may be the only thing we could control; that is even if we buy the live animals to slaughter ourselves.
So, let’s explain what causes toughness of meat?
In this post, I am going to be showing to you, how the slaughtering method you adopt can affect the quality of your meat. I will try to put up an article on the proper methods of slaughtering that we should adopt very soon.
Firstly, stress before slaughter in particular causes meat to be tough. The best meat cuts on an animal can be made tough by stress, and an older animal can have relatively tender meat if it is docile, handled and slaughtered without it becoming stressed. If we could reduce the stress we subject the animals to during transportation yarding, handling and slaughtering, we will end up getting a meat that is not only tender, but also has a longer shelf life.
If we still remember our high school biology very well, we would recall that the energy required for muscle activity in live animal (including humans) is sourced from stored sugars (glycogen) in the muscle. In any healthy and animal that is not stressed, the glycogen content of the muscle is high because it was not used up. Animal that is stressed will require sugar for movement activities, using a lot of stored glycogen.
After the animal has been slaughtered, the glycogen in the muscle is converted into lactic acid, and the muscle and carcass becomes firm (rigor mortis). This lactic acid is necessary to produce meat, which is tasteful and tender, of good keeping quality and good colour. If the animal is stressed before and during slaughter, the glycogen is used up, and the lactic acid level that develops in the meat after slaughter is reduced. This meat is of inferior quality because it has less pronounced meat taste and dark in appearance.
This kind of meat is less acceptable to consumers and has a shorter shelf life due to the abnormally high pH-value of the meat (6.4-6.8).
To conclude, when next you want to slaughter any animal for whatever purpose (festivals, parties, etc.), make sure you rest the animal well enough and give it water to drink before you slaughter.