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Tipsy turkeys: NH birds fed beer for flavor, size

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkeys are seen drinking beer from a trough at Joe Morette's farm in Henniker, N.H. Morette is raising about 50 turkeys and gives them beer every day and says it makes the birds fatter and more flavorful. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkeys are seen drinking beer from a trough at Joe Morette's farm in Henniker, N.H. Morette is raising about 50 turkeys and gives them beer every day and says it makes the birds fatter and more flavorful. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 Joe Morette watches as his flock of turkeys drink beer from the trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette says that birds are just like humans and get beer bellies and insists it makes them fatter, more flavorful, and juicer. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 Joe Morette watches as his flock of turkeys drink beer from the trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette says that birds are just like humans and get beer bellies and insists it makes them fatter, more flavorful, and juicer. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • in this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkeys get ready to belly up to the trough as farmer Joe Morette fills it with beer in Henniker, N.H.  Morette has been adding beer to the daily diet for his birds saying it makes them fatter, more flavorful and juicer.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    in this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkeys get ready to belly up to the trough as farmer Joe Morette fills it with beer in Henniker, N.H. Morette has been adding beer to the daily diet for his birds saying it makes them fatter, more flavorful and juicer.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 one of Joe Morette's beer drinking turkeys is seen after a stop at the beer trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette has been feeding his birds beer since 1993 when a turkey knocked over a can of beer left near its fence and started drinking it. He believes it makes the birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 one of Joe Morette's beer drinking turkeys is seen after a stop at the beer trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette has been feeding his birds beer since 1993 when a turkey knocked over a can of beer left near its fence and started drinking it. He believes it makes the birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkey farmer Joe Morette watches his flock of turkeys drink beer from the trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette believes beer bellies aren't just a human phenomenon, but his birds will get fatter also. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkey farmer Joe Morette watches his flock of turkeys drink beer from the trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette believes beer bellies aren't just a human phenomenon, but his birds will get fatter also. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 one of Joe Morette's beer drinking turkeys is seen after a stop at the beer trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette has been feeding his birds beer since 1993 when a turkey knocked over a can of beer left near its fence and started drinking it. He believes it makes the birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 one of Joe Morette's beer drinking turkeys is seen after a stop at the beer trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette has been feeding his birds beer since 1993 when a turkey knocked over a can of beer left near its fence and started drinking it. He believes it makes the birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkeys are seen drinking beer from a trough at Joe Morette's farm in Henniker, N.H. Morette is raising about 50 turkeys and gives them beer every day and says it makes the birds fatter and more flavorful. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 Joe Morette watches as his flock of turkeys drink beer from the trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette says that birds are just like humans and get beer bellies and insists it makes them fatter, more flavorful, and juicer. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • in this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkeys get ready to belly up to the trough as farmer Joe Morette fills it with beer in Henniker, N.H.  Morette has been adding beer to the daily diet for his birds saying it makes them fatter, more flavorful and juicer.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 one of Joe Morette's beer drinking turkeys is seen after a stop at the beer trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette has been feeding his birds beer since 1993 when a turkey knocked over a can of beer left near its fence and started drinking it. He believes it makes the birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 turkey farmer Joe Morette watches his flock of turkeys drink beer from the trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette believes beer bellies aren't just a human phenomenon, but his birds will get fatter also. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 one of Joe Morette's beer drinking turkeys is seen after a stop at the beer trough in Henniker, N.H. Morette has been feeding his birds beer since 1993 when a turkey knocked over a can of beer left near its fence and started drinking it. He believes it makes the birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Tipsy turkeys: NH birds fed beer for flavor, size

HENNIKER, N.H. — You’ve probably heard of beer-battered fish and beer-can chicken. But how about beer-fed turkey?

Joe Morette of Henniker, N.H., is raising about 50 Thanksgiving turkeys this year. He’s been feeding his birds beer since 1993, when a turkey knocked over a can left near its fence and started drinking.

The way Morette sees it, beer bellies aren’t just a human phenomenon, and he insists the beer makes birds fatter, more flavorful and juicier. He prefers to feed them lagers over light beer, but takes what he can get.

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?” Carl Majewski with UNH Cooperative Extension says the beer doesn’t hurt the birds, and probably does affect their size and flavor to some degree. But juiciness is more a matter of how you cook the birds, not what they drink.

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