The increasing cost of animal feed places a strain on financial resources; most farmers struggle to provide an adequate supply of grain feed. For this reason, the agricultural community is focused on discovering new affordable feed alternatives that can satisfy animal nutritional requirements. Efforts have been made to investigate whether goats can eat apples as supplement to their feed. A number of farmers are already using apple supplements for goat feed and the results recorded are positive.

Can Goats Eat Apples?

Processing of apples results in the production of large quantities of pomace. Generally, the apple processing industry generates 25% to 30% apple pomace and 5% to 10% sludge. Apple pomace residues are normally rich in carbohydrates, and some functionally important bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols among other natural antioxidants. For this reason, goats can eats apples to supplement their nutrient intake thereby improving productivity. In addition, apples contain exogenous enzymes such as cellulase, xylanase, and polygalacturonas that are of the essence in enhancing growth performance and digestibility of feed. They are also a rich source of trace minerals including calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and manganese. Deficiencies of trace elements usually limit production. Agricultural research indicates that whereas goats can eat apples, they lack digestible proteins thus can only be used in limited quantities. Apples cannot be used as a feed replacement, instead they are used as supplement by mixing with a core feed for example hay or grass.  When used appropriately, apples have a significant impact on productivity.

Apple supplements for milk production

Lactating goats require a well-balanced meal, and so apple supplements can be used to provide them with necessary nutrients. Apples are a rich source of fibre.  In a lactating goat, one of the by-products of the fibre digestion, acetic acid, promotes the production of milk fat. Fibre should make up at least 30% of the goat dietary plan during lactation. Apples also contain a relatively high amount of calcium which is needed for milk production. Goats hardly suffer from calcium deficiencies due to their rich pasture. None the less, deficiencies are often experienced in high milk producing goats during early lactation as they may develop acute hypocalcaemia or milk tetany. A deficiency in calcium leads to reduced milk yields. Also, goats can eat apples so as to improve milk quality.  This is because apples have a rich supply of nutrients that play an important role in the prevention of milk fat depression. Goats that lack sodium may lick dirt and show reduced growth and feed intake as well as reduced milk production. Note that apples are regarded as a sodium-free fruit therefore have to be paired up with a feed that is complementary. Failure to do so can significantly limit milk production. Some forages, particularly in tropical areas, do not normally contain sufficient quantities of sodium to meet the requirements of grazing goats throughout the year. Take care not to use such forages in apple supplements. Ideally, salt should be added to the feed mixture so as to improve sodium levels in apples.

Apple supplements for physical development

Goats can eat apples for effective physiological development. Apples are a rich supply of fibre, carbohydrates and vitamins. They also contain potassium, manganese and copper. Apple skins have a high concentration of polyphenols which are crucial in growth enhancement. For efficient development of livestock, an energy giving feed has to be provided hence the need for apple supplements. It has been proven that goats with a well-balanced feed perform better compared to those that are solely reliant on grazing for feed. Accordingly, goats with apple induced diets will grow larger and reproduce well thereby enabling a successful agricultural venture. Goats can feed on apples so as to absorb essential proteins for growth, building up body fat, and other bodily functions. Apples also provide them with trace elements including calcium, phosphorus and magnesium that improve livestock health thereby making it possible for goats to develop well. In fact, these are the key constituents of bone development. A deficiency in these minerals leads to poor appetite, a dull coat, poor growth, bone breakages and reduced fertility. Farmers can easily identify if their livestock are suffering from a deficiency as they begin to lick and even eat various objects they would not normally consume. It is of the utmost importance for farmers to realise that deficiency signs are only noticeable after a prolonged period of time. Ideally, goats can eat apples to ensure that they do not run out of necessary minerals. It is also true that an excess use of minerals can be harmful to the development process.

Apple supplements for health maintenance

Apple supplements are a rich source of nutrients that are crucial for health maintenance. They contain a significant amount of vitamins that play an important role in boosting the immune system. Therefore, goats can eat apples so that they become hardy and more tolerant to some diseases.  Apples are highly famed for their ability to lower cholesterol levels. As such, the meat produced is a healthier option with a high market value. Oxidation is a common problem in animal husbandry.  None the less, goats that feed on apples are well protected. This is due to polyphenols that are present in apples; they act as antioxidants thereby controlling oxidation. Furthermore, goats can eat apples as a means to improve their metabolism. The results are healthy goats that are highly productive. It is important for farmers to understand that this is only possibly if a suitable complimentary feed is provided. The feed rations should also be well balanced because over application of apple supplements can potentially harm the animals.

Conclusion

Goats can eat apples, provided they are ensiled with a nutritious meal. Prior to using any form of supplements, it is recommended to acquire an in-depth understanding of the nutritional value required by livestock in their specific quantities.  This makes it easy for farmers to identify feeds that are complementary thereby avoiding mistakes that can be detrimental to either livestock or consumers. It is also highly advisable for farmers to follow the stated recommendations. Overfeeding has an adverse effect on the health of goats which directly translates to low productivity.