Most countries have experienced continuous droughts within the past years which has led to grain shortages. Deficiency in grain feed has become a major threat to the animal industry which competes with humans for grains. Due to these grain shortages, there is less grain feed available for animals and therefore the cost of grain is very high.  Many farmers cannot afford to provide sufficient feed for goats. To meet the nutrient requirements of livestock and to sustain their productivity under these conditions seems rather difficult. For this reason, there is need for non-conventional alternate feed resources that can be utilized to bridge the gap between demand and supply of nutrients and to economize goat farming. To achieve this, some farmers have opted to use apple pomace as a supplementary feed; however, most are still sceptical as little research has been done on whether cows can eat apples and their effect to animal health and productivity.

Can Cows Eat Apples

Apple pomace consists of wastes from the apple processing industry. Apple pomace residues are normally rich in carbohydrates, and other functionally important bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols which is known to be a natural antioxidant. Cows can eat apples for nutrient enrichment which allows them to grow faster, protects them against oxidative damage and boosts in their immune system. Apples also help in the production of superior quality milk and meat. That being said, there is very little agricultural research available on apple feed therefore cows can eat apples only in limited amounts. The suggested amount of apple pomace feed is 20% to 30% of the overall dietary plan. In addition, it is essential to know that although apples are nutritious, their energy value is somewhat low compared to grain feed. It should therefore not be used to replace grain feed as this can have detrimental effects to health as well as productivity. As such, cows can apples only in controlled amounts. Some researchers have proven that too much apples can damage an animal’s rumen, hence the need to strictly follow the recommendations.

Milk production

The deficiency in grain feed is a constraint to milk production. Some dairy farmers have recorded low milk yields upon reducing grain intake in cows. The focus of dairy farmers is now, and has always been to improve milk production per cow; this is achievable through the use of apple feeds. Agricultural research available on apple utilization as feed has proven that cows can eat apples in order to improve their milk productivity. Apples have ample quantities of soluble carbohydrates that can be used in cow dietary plans, especially for lactating animals. Apples contain carbohydrates, vitamins and proteins necessary for improved health which in turn translates to increased milk yields. Cows fed apple pomace produce improved milk yields of approximately 20% to 30% more that those with an apple free diet. In addition, the milk produced contains more nutrients including proteins thereby proving to be of superior quality. With the current global craze on healthier food options, such milk demands a higher market price thus being very profitable to dairy farmers. Therefore, cows can eat apples in a bid to produce a yield of better quality. It is important to note that over feeing does not increase production, instead, it might be detrimental to health and productivity especially as investigations on the maximum applicable dosages are still underway. Farmers are advised to strictly adhere to the recommended amount.

Meat production

Apples contain about 1000 calories which are essential in providing cows with adequate energy supply, particularly in times of grain shortages. Apple pomace has 4.72% crude protein, 20.50% crude fibre, 3.22% ether extract, 2.60% ash and 68.96% soluble carbohydrates. It has been proven that its rich nutrient supply enhances the quality of the meat. Therefore, cows can eat apples so as to acquire the necessary nutrients for superior meat production. Apples contain less fat than most corn silages thus can be used to control the amount of fat consumed by cows. Too much fat can lead to health and productivity issues. Fatty meat commands a lesser market price thus affects the profitability of the agricultural venture. In addition, apple pomace leads to greater utilisation of grass silage. It can be used to ensure improved utilisation of less palatable feeds thereby providing a balanced diet to the livestock. Apples improve digestion of nutrients by animals thus leads to improved nutritional value of the diet. This in turn translates to improved growth performance. Exogenous enzymes such as cellulase, xylanase, and polygalacturonas found in apples are are necessary for enhancing the growth performance and digestibility of feed by cows.

Health

Apple pomace has a rich calorie composition along with other essential nutrients that are important in maintaining the health of cattle. The antioxidant capacity of apple supplements plays a critical role in improving metabolism thus allowing cows to be more tolerant to some diseases. Apples are a good source of vitamins that aid in boosting the immune system. For this reason, cows can eat apples so as to gain some form of resistance to various diseases. In addition, apples are popular for their ability to lower cholesterol levels. Fortunately this super power is easily transferable to livestock leading to the production of healthier meat options. Trace nutrients found in various fruits, apples included, are necessary for health development. Deficiencies result in reduced reproductive performance or impaired health.

Antioxidant agent

Cows can eat apples to protect themselves from damage caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a metabolic disturbance that affects the health and produce of the livestock. Under proper nutritional diets, it can be effectively controlled. Apples contain polyphenols among other nutrients and elements that act as an antioxidant agent protecting the meat from oxidative damage. Antioxidant supplementation does not only have a preventive effect on the health of cows, but can also enhance the milk and meat quality. Antioxidant supplementation comprises of less milk waste in the form of free radicals and reduces the number of somatic cells in milk.  Apple supplements have been proven useful to reduce the occurrence of udder infections, hence are known to improve animal health. As such, cows can eat apples to improve their metabolism which is of the essence in milk and meat production.