Farmer uses beer to fatten turkeys
HENNIKER, N.H. — When it comes to pairing beer with poultry, Joe Morette isn't too fussy. His turkeys will drink just about anything.
Morette, who is raising about 50 Thanksgiving turkeys this year, has been giving his birds beer since 1993, when he and his workers popped open a few cans after work on a hot July day. A turkey knocked one over and started drinking, he said, and they've been sipping the suds ever since.
Morette, who prefers serving the turkeys lager, insists the beer makes birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier.
“Oh, yeah, it's noticeable,” he said. “It's not a strong, gamey flavor, it's a nice turkey flavor.”
Longtime customer Dan Bourque, a Manchester attorney, said he hasn't had a bad bird yet from Morette. He said the turkeys are far superior to the supermarket varieties.
“We find the gravy is much darker, and much tastier,” he said. “The bird overall has a slightly different taste that is very appealing.”
The animal rights group PETA said turkeys shouldn't be fed beer and that “farmers across the country use questionable practices to keep costs down or to alter the taste of animals' flesh because their priority is profit, not the animals' welfare.”
But a poultry expert with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension said it is unlikely the birds are suffering.
“I don't know exactly how much beer each turkey is consuming, but it would have to be a lot in order for it to kind of have the same effect as too much beer on people,” said Carl Majewski, field specialist in food and agriculture. “I imagine it's not enough to really make ‘em tipsy or anything like that. It's just enjoying a beer with their meal. Why not?”
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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Baby cut from Colo. mom-to-be didn’t live outside wombm, autopsy finds
- Excessive use of solitary found for juveniles in Baltimore jail
- Fla. debates buy-America bill for U.S. flag purchases
- Global warming is slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
- American crash victims: U.S. government contractor, daughter
- Texas Sen. Cruz kicks off presidential campaign at Christian college
- Budget blueprint adopted by GOP will pit doves and hawks
- Santorum: Obama opposition to fossil fuels ‘quasi-religious’
- Special operations troops are denied commercial intelligence analysis software for missions
- Regulators approve tougher rules for Internet providers
- Cyber warfare chief: U.S. needs to shift to offense