Electrostimulation - Shockingly Better Meat

What do we mean by "Electrostimulation"?

Electrostimulation is a process that involves connecting cables from a special electrical current-generating device to a freshly killed deer or antelope carcass and applying a surge of electricity to the carcass for about one minute. The electrical current is alternately switched on and off during the stimulation process. During this process the muscles of the carcass contract as a result of the electrical stimulation and relax each time the electrical current is switched off.

What does this stimulation do to the meat? 

Meat (muscle) must not be cut away from the bone while the carcass is in "rigor mortis," the stiffening of the carcass after death. Muscles cut away from the bone during rigor mortis will contract and compact the meat fibers tightly together, resulting in toughening of the meat. Electrostimulation causes electro-chemical reactions which avoid this stiffening. There are three beneficial effects of electrostimulation - improved flavor, increased shelf life, and tenderization.

Flavor is improved by both a more complete bleed-out and a normalization of the acidity of the muscle. Shelf life is increased because meat with a low pH (more acidic) does not hold under refrigeration as well as meat with a normal pH. The exact cause of the tenderizing effect of electrostimulation is not known. It is speculated that the contraction of the muscles during stimulation causes some separation of muscle fibers which results in tenderization.

The tenderization effect of electrostimulation is dramatic. Venison meat which is electrostimulated at slaughter has a shear strength as little as half of that of unstimulated meat.

How does Broken Arrow Ranch electrostimulate free-ranging deer and antelope?

Meat scientists who observe our operations are astonished to learn that we have equipped our field vehicles with sophisticated stimulators. For stimulation to have a beneficial effect, it must be done within a minute or two after the animal is killed. When we are harvesting free-ranging deer and antelope, this means we must electrostimulate the carcass as soon as we reach it after the animal is shot. To accomplish this, we operate the only trucks in the world equipped with electrostimulators. Electrostimulation is a very important step in our harvesting process. The additional difficulty and expense of electrostimulation is only one of the extra steps we take at Broken Arrow Ranch to produce the very highest quality wild game meats.