Huffpost DC
Rachel Tepper Headshot

Obama's Pardoned Turkey Is A Specially-Trained Showbird (PHOTOS)

Posted: Updated:
TURKEY PARDON
Rachel Tepper

WASHINGTON -- The Thanksgiving turkey officially pardoned by President Obama on Wednesday morning isn't your run-of- the-mill bird. It's actually been bred specifically for the purpose.

Born on July 7, it and 34 other turkeys were plucked at five weeks old from a Minnesota commercial turkey flock. From then on, the turkeys were trained for an hour every weekday by members of FFA, a youth organization promoting agriculture education.

Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, explained the unusual process on Tuesday at the W Washington D.C. hotel, where the turkey and its alternate have been holed up.

"They were talking to them, they were playing music, they were making noise, they had some flash bulbs, bright lights. Just to help prepare them, get them ready for the ceremony that's going to happen tomorrow at the White House."

The turkey and its alternate, said Olson, are the "cream of the crop" chosen for their attractive feathering, muscling, red and blue head coloring and a healthy fanning of feathers when they strut.

Don't think this is a new practice, however. The turkeys used in presidential pardoning ceremonies have been trained in this manner for the past several years, with one group of trainers passing their techniques on to the next. Many of the methods are similar to those used at county fairs across the country, which have a long history of showing turkeys in competition.

Following the ceremony, the birds are headed to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens (although Wild Turkey Bourbon is trying to steal them away). The remaining turkeys in FFA's specially-trained flock won't be so lucky: They're headed to the slaughterhouse and their meat will be donated to the local food shelter.

Also on The Huffington Post

White House Turkey 2011
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Obama turkey pardon: Bird has 'appointment with destiny'

Wild Turkey Bourbon Wants Obama's Pardoned Thanksgiving Bird

Media Gather at the W to Talk Turkey - FishbowlDC

NYT Declares War on Thanksgiving

The Early Word: Consequences

Obama Turkey Pardons: Birds Liberty, Peace Set To Be Spared