Research from the University of Georgia concludes that a calm cow will produce more tender meat. And so a researcher, Jerry Baker, has developed a scoring system that allows cattle owners to assess the temperaments of cattle so they can breed calmer calves.

I guess I had just never thought that the hamburger I was eating could have come from a cow that was really ticked off about something. Of course I don't recall ever eating a tough hamburger. I've had some steaks on occasion, though, that I thought might have come from one of those Texas longhorns that was an extra in a John Wayne movie as opposed to an Angus or Herford having a bad hair day.

When I was growing up, my dad would really get onto our britches if he caught us boys trying to ride the steers in the feedlot. But I don't think it was so much about keeping the steers calm as it was about one of us kids getting chunked through the fence and not being able to hoe peanuts the next day.

And of course it was important to keep the milk cows from getting all riled up because that could churn their milk into butter before it was ever extracted.

Now I never thought of our cows as having bad tempers. However, I pretty well had our sows cataloged along those lines.

I recall one old sow that hated me with a passion. She would chase me like a guard dog. My dad said her having that disposition was why she raised such good pigs. He could handle her like a kitten, but Attilla the Hun couldn't have thrown me in that pen when she was delivering pigs. As an option, I would have whooped that hairy Mongol like a borrowed mule.

And having a cow with a great disposition doesn't mean that it can't hurt you even without intent. We had a Hereford bull that I could walk up to out in the pasture and rub him between the eyes with my knuckles, and he would follow me to the barn like a puppy.

But one day we went to load him on a trailer and he balked. Three of us were pushing and coaxing him to no avail. Then he leaned over against me, pinning me to the barn wall. I doubt he even knew I was there. He was squeezing the daylights out of me while the other two fellows were trying to get him off me. I was turning blue and things were not looking good at all. In fact, everything began looking quite fuzzy. Somehow I was able to slip down under the bull and crawl out underneath him. All the while, the bull was totally calm. Stubborn, but calm.

Apparently cattle associations are taking a close look at these findings about calmer cattle.

So now do we expect to hear restaurants say that not only do their steaks and hamburgers come from pure Angus beef, but also that these animals did not get excited the day they were slaughtered? Somehow I don't think that will go over as well as getting better milk from "contented cows."

And what to do with those ill-tempered cows? Will we now hear of beef psychologists? How do you tell a steer that it should remain calm when there's a refrigerated Hardees truck parked outside the corral?

Oh certainly I'm being a little facetious here. That's what columnists do. But occasionally we do hit upon those things that are just too easy. For instance, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin says he has come up with a better way to slice cheese. He uses a cold laser process that actually blasts away the molecular bond of the cheese. In essence, he can cut it thinner than with a knife.

So not only did I not know that we had problems with cranky cattle, I never thought that cutting the cheese eventually would become a science. Heck, I thought anyone could do it.

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. E-mail:

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