Can cows eat apples? It’s a question I first asked as a child riding in the back seat of the family car on road trips to California. My parents were both popular professors at the local university, and I remember seeing orchards along the highway outside of town. Asking, “Can cows eat apples?” didn’t get much of a serious answer from my parents; maybe because cows weren’t actually grazing in those orchards.
Yes, cows can eat apples safely in moderation. Apples are good for your cows because they have low-fat, high fiber content and are rich in several vitamins and nutrients. However, if you give your cows too many apples, the excess sugar in them can cause bloating.
Cows can eat apples, but you must feed them sparingly. They are healthy snacks for cows, as long as they contain no pesticides. Apples contain a good amount of vitamins and nutrients such as B1, B2, iron, calcium, magnesium, and dietary fiber and impart anti-oxidant properties to the cows’ blood. Apples have high moisture content and thus provide relief from dehydration. They help in neutralizing stomach acid and facilitate digestion in cows.
In this article, we will learn all about feeding apples to cows. Stay with us till the end.
Are apples healthy for cows?
All of you must have heard of the famous proverb “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” which is popular for a good reason. Apples are indeed healthy, all-season fruits that should be added to our daily diet.
However, because cows have different nutritional needs than we do, can apples be healthy for them? That’s what we are going to talk about in this section.
Before we move on to talk about the advantages of eating apples for cows, let’s first take a look at the table below that depicts the nutritional breakdown of apples:
|Vitamin A||54 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.017 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.026 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.091 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.041 mg|
|Vitamin C||4.6 g|
|Vitamin E||0.18 g|
|Sodium, Na||1 mg|
|Potassium, K||107 mg|
|Calcium, Ca||6 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.12 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||5 mg|
|Phosphorous, P||11 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.04 mg|
|Dietary fibers||2.40 g|
|Total fat||0.2 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
As you can see in the table above, apples are rich in Vitamin A, a vitamin that is essential for your cows, for the following reasons:
- It maintains their skin health and keeps the lining of their respiratory, reproductive, and digestive tracts intact.
- It aids them in the proper growth and development of their bones, teeth, and nervous tissues.
- It plays a key role in the production of Rhodopsin, a type of protein present in their eyes that act as a light-sensitive receptor for them.
Apples also contain Vitamins C and E, both of which add important antioxidants to your pet’s body. These antioxidants fight with the free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to their cells. In addition to it, these vitamins can also boost their immune response.
Calcium is one of the most important minerals for your pet ruminants, as it strengthens their skeletal tissues and enhances their muscles and nerve functioning. It is also essential for their gastrointestinal motility. Cows that are pregnant or lactating need an even higher amount of Calcium than the others.
Potassium is another essential mineral in your cow’s diet that can help them in:
- Maintaining the acid-base balance of their body
- Metabolism of the carbs and protein they intake
- Regulating their heartbeats
- Activating their enzymes
- Maintaining the fluid balance in their body
In addition to all these benefits, apples are low-fat fruits, which means that eating them will not unnecessarily fat your pets. Apples also contain fibers that are essential in the smooth functioning of their digestive tracts. Lastly, apples are rich in carbs, which are the building blocks of energy in their body.
To sum it all up, apples are quite healthy for your cows and can certainly be fed to them as an occasional snack.
The myth about apples killing cows: true or false?
The myth of apples killing cows is not as widespread as the myth of rice killing birds. However, if you’re a pet parent to a cow, you might have heard of it at some point. It says that cows shouldn’t be fed apples because when they eat apples, it causes bloating in their body that can lead to their death.
Apples are really not harmful to cows, as suggested in the myth. In fact, if your cows are eating small amounts of apples, it will have no ill effects on them.
The problem arises when you feed them a large number of apples at once. This can cause bloating in their stomach, although not severe enough to cause death. But why does this happen? It is not an individual problem of cows but all the ruminants; any sudden change in their diet leads to bloating. This is why I always recommend you to introduce new foods to them gradually, not all at once.
Is it a good idea to feed fermented apples to cows?
Does the grazing land of your pet cows have apple trees in its vicinity? If that’s the case, your cows are bound to be drawn towards the apples that fall from these trees, as they’re quite fond of sweet treats.
While most of the fallen apples are fresh and, therefore, safe for your cows, some of these apples might also be in the process of fermentation.
Now, there’s an old rumor among the cow owners that fermented apples should not be fed to cows as they could harm their health. However, if you look at it from a health standpoint, fermented apples have no harmful components for your pets.
On the contrary, fermented apples can actually help your pets regulate their digestive tracts’ pH levels. This can also avoid causing problems of acidity, which is quite common among cows.
Moreover, many farmers have claimed that their pets have been eating half-fermented apples for a long time without any visible ill effects. So, the next time you see your cow going after a fallen, fermenting apple, you don’t necessarily have to stop them.
However, it would be wise for you to inspect the apples your pets are about to munch on for any sign of mold. There’s a difference between fermenting and rotting apples, a difference that your pet ruminants might not be able to tell. And if they end up eating rotting, moldy apples, they’re certainly going to suffer from an upset stomach.
Apple pomace for cows: good or bad?
How many of you have heard of apple pomace before? Apple pomace is basically the remaining (wasted) parts of apples set aside after apple by-products, such as apple cider and apple juice. It is a solid waste that mostly consists of apple seeds, stems, core, and peels.
Apple pomace, just like the pomace of other fruits, can be used as fertilizers, in alcohol manufacturing, and as livestock feed. Out of all three of its uses, the last one is most common.
Many studies have claimed that apple pomace can be both nutritious and filling feed for the cows. It contains about 7-8% of crude protein, a nutrient that is essential for their overall, particularly reproductive, performance. Pregnant and lactating cows have a higher crude protein requirement.
The deficiency of crude protein in cows can lead to the following health problems:
- A reduced milk production, or lower protein content in the milk they produce
- Fertility problems
- Giving birth to smaller calves
- Vulnerability to metabolic diseases
For this and many other reasons, apple pomace can be a great addition to your pet cow’s diet. There’s one downside to using apple pomace as livestock feed: it can go bad quickly due to its moisture content. To prevent this from happening, most farmers and cow owners dry the apple pomace in the sun.
Green apples for cows: safe or not?
Just because red apples are edible for cows, most cow owners assume that green apples would be safe for them as well. And if you compare the nutritional value of these apples, you will notice that they offer more or less the same benefits. Only green apples are sourer than the red ones and, therefore, have lower sugar content.
However, there is another major difference between these apples; green apples are highly acidic, unlike red apples. And since too much acid is not healthy for your pet’s digestive tract, feeding them green apples would be unwise. Even if you want to feed them green apples, make sure you do so sparingly.
Are the leaves of apple trees safe for cows to eat?
Although cows are more of a grazer than a browser, it is not uncommon to see them munching on fallen leaves. Are the leaves of apple trees safe for your cow’s consumption?
Well, apple tree leaves contain no compound that can harm their health, so it wouldn’t be problematic for them to eat them. These leaves are also rich in antioxidants and calcium, which is a bonus for the cows. However, due to tannic acid in these leaves, they are difficult for the cows to digest.
Instead of feeding apple tree leaves to your cows, you can feed them these:
- Neem leaves
- Kachnar leaves
- Bhimal leaves
- Ardu leaves
- Tapioca leaves
- Mulberry leaves
- Pipal leaves
Frequently asked questions
Can I feed spinach to cows? Yes, spinach is one of the healthiest vegetables you can feed your cows. However, just like any other vegetable, spinach should only be fed to the cows in moderation.
Can cows eat celery? Yes, they can. Celery is an excellent source of fiber, a nutrient essential for the smooth functioning of their digestive tracts. Moreover, cows are also very fond of these veggies.
Conclusion: Can Cows Eat Apples?
Yes, cows can eat apples. But while they are safe and nutritious to an extent, this could cause a number of stomach-related problems in cows by making them gassy and bloated.
If you’ve been wondering this or are too afraid to ask, now you know. Hopefully, you enjoyed learning if cows eat apples! If this article was helpful or if you learned something new, please share it with friends on social media.
Thanks for reading!