updated 12/22/2004 8:57:30 AM ET 2004-12-22T13:57:30

Cattlemen are hoping to raise a better bovine with beer. About a dozen eastern Iowa farmers have been spiking their cattle feed with beer. So far, the herds are lapping it up, said cattlemen Robert Miller.

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They like it so much that they hesitate to eat when their feed isn't mixed with beer, Miller said.

It began about a year ago when an official at Fleck Sales, a Cedar Rapids beer distributor, contacted Fisher's Feed and Fertilizer in Norway, a small town southeast of Cedar Rapids.

The company asked if the feed business would like to get free beer which had outlived its shelf life, not for its workers but to mix in with its feed, said Jack Fisher, the feed company's owner.

Fisher said research shows that beer has vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates and proteins, which all benefit cattle's diet.

Beer is commonly used in cattle feed in Japan and Canada. The animals' complex digestive system breaks down the alcohol in beer, turning it into food energy, animal nutritionists said.

Fisher took Fleck Sales up on its offer and now the beer is emptied into 5-gallon buckets which are taken to feedlots where the beer is given away. He laughed when asked if he and his friends ever test the free shipments.

"We have to make sure it's safe for the cattle," he said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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