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Boston and Beyond

November 9, 2013

Tipsy turkeys: NH birds fed beer for flavor, size

(Continued)

Kathi Brock, national director of Humane Heartland, which oversees the treatment of farm animals, said that standards from the American Humane Association don’t prohibit serving beer to animals.

“I consulted with an avian veterinarian who said that while giving beer to turkeys is not a standard protocol, hops could be beneficial for the intestinal tract,” Brock said in an email.

Morette’s turkeys are not the first animals to consume alcohol. Japanese farmers have been said to feed cattle beer to stimulate their appetites. And a winemaker and farmer in the south of France have experimented with feeding cows the remainders of pressed grapes to produce meat they’ve dubbed “Vinbovin.”

During one recent feeding, Morette’s birds dipped their beaks repeatedly into the foamy liquid in a watering trough. A few minutes later, at least one appeared rather dazed, with eyes narrowed to slits and beer dribbling out of its beak. But the rest seemed alert and no worse for the wear.

“Turkeys don’t seem to be the brightest, so they could stumble and you wouldn’t know if they drank too much or not,” Morette said.

Majewski said the additional calories and carbohydrates probably do make the birds a bit bigger, and like anything the birds eat, beer likely has some effect on flavor. Juiciness is another matter, he said.

“I think it has as much to do with how you cook it rather than what it’s been eating,” he said. “You can take a really well-fed bird and make it not very juicy.”

Majewski, who brews beer at home, also raises chickens. But he has no plans to embrace Morette’s methods.

“Any beer that we have is too good for them, and I’m going to drink it instead,” he said.

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