Percy French moosic helps bring home the tender beef

Stressed cattle tense muscles and produce tough meat, but music seems to relax them

A quest to produce the most tender meat has led one firm to play Percy French songs to cattle before they are slaughtered.

A quest to produce the most tender meat has led one firm to play Percy French songs to cattle before they are slaughtered.

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 01:00

A quest to produce the most tender meat has led one firm to play Percy French songs to cattle before they are slaughtered.

Gilligan Meats in Co Roscommon has been experimenting with feed and the environment to try and get the most tender meat.

Alan Gilligan said the secret to tender meat was in rearing animals in a stress-free environment because tense muscles lead to tough meat. “My grandmother always kept a dairy cow on the farm and she used to sing to her to help her relax. The theory was that if the animal was relaxed, she would yield more milk.


Speakers in the shed
“So my father had the brainwave to try it with the beef cattle. My brother is a sound engineer and he set up the amplifier and speakers in the shed.”

They picked vocal music so the cattle would begin to recognise a voice and be calmed by the repetition. “No heavy metal obviously. It has to be nice and calm,” he said.

Coming from Roscommon, they opted for Percy French songs, performed by tenor Brendan O’Dowda. “They are partial to a good old Irish classic such as Are You Right There Michael? or The Fields of Athenry ,” he said. Not surprisingly, Who Let the Dogs Out? and The Smiths’ Meat is Murder are both firmly off the playlist.

“The music plays in the background at a low volume,” he said. “But is just one aspect. It’s also down to diet, the dry straw beds and the fact that the abattoir is on-site. We’ve even employed a bovine nutritionist.”