Yes, very much so. Cattle that are mistreated physically or emotionally secrete adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine, and lactic acid. All of these are stress hormones. These chemicals, secreted naturally during times of stress, do affect the final product. If present at the time of processing, the result is DFD syndrome: Dark, Firm, and Dry meat.
Stress can come from physical or emotional mistreatment such as occurs by mass commercial-type production. In a free-range situation such as you’ve seen along highways or in open wildland, the cattle are also subjected to predators such as coyotes, mountain lions, etc. It is very stressful to be threatened or chased by any of these, as is the case if it were to happen to yourself. Our cattle are treated with kindness and protected from dangers, while still having full freedom to graze and move about freely in large green pastures.
The Journal of Animal Science and researchers at the University of Milan’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine recently confirmed that fear experienced during slaughter significantly elevates meat’s levels of stress hormones—adrenaline, cortisol, and other steroids. Published Aug 25, 2011