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Cows and Apples

 
Peter Fishlock
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Hi, I was watching t PDC done by Bill Mollison, and he was talking about planting a apple tree amongst blackberries or brambles then letting the cows in to eat the apples they trample to un wanted thorny bushes to death. He also went on to say that cows love apples.

That got me thinking about the possibilty of planting apples in a cow field so they get some extra food.

I then read that eating apples can cause bloat in Cows and kill them.

Does anyone have experience here, because I have blind faith in Bill, but I dont want dead cows in the future.

 
Jay Green
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My cow ate her weight in apples without repercussions and I see many cows in my area with well-worked apple trees in their pasture. Any sudden change in diet can cause bloat to ruminants but as apples drop slowly, the cows usually introduce them to their diet slowly, as they would in a natural setting. Now..would I dump a load of apples in a field of cattle that hadn't been eating them all along? Probably not as this would definitely cause some bloating issues in some of the cows.
 
Andrew Ray
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I put our cows under a tree with a lot of fallen, half-fermented apples and they didn't have any ill effects. The effect of the cows having constant access (i.e. eating the apples as they fall) would be even less. It is a good source of Potassium for them. Certainly having a variety of fruit trees in the field as both a source of shade and supplements-- vitamins, minerals, etc. which the grass doesn't provide.

But it seems like goats might be an easier option than planting an apple for the cows-- if you use an electric net fencing around the brambles they'll happily eat them down. I just had my goats around some blackberries for a week or two in the snow which they ate exclusively. The indication they were finished was when they jumped out from the fence and followed me back home. About 95% of the blackberries were eaten and the goats had fresh winter feed!
 
Cj Sloane
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Peter Fishlock wrote:That got me thinking about the possibilty of planting apples in a cow field so they get some extra food.

You've got that backwards, mate. You want to let cows into an orchard (at the appropriate time). In fact, this seems to have been SOP in GB way back when, but they were standard sized apple trees.

My plan is to plant a few apple trees (and chestnut, mulberry, honey locust) just outside my paddocks so the apples can fall in for the cows/pigs/sheep to eat but the trees can grow undisturbed.
 
Mick Cressman
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Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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Not necessarily backwards. There is a lot of research that shows that a moderate amount of shade covering pasture can increase production significantly. I haven't seen any studies with apples, just honey locust and black walnut.

Here's a few to get started.
http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-05192004-122234/unrestricted/buergler.pdf
http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/3703/1/IND43739662.pdf

The black walnut largely outperformed the honey locust, however honey locust also provides mast and fodder itself. My guess as to why the walnut allowed more productive pasture below was root competition and possibly a latter leaf-out time?
 
Cj Sloane
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Peter Fishlock wrote:Hi, I was watching t PDC done by Bill Mollison, and he was talking about planting a apple tree amongst blackberries or brambles then letting the cows in to eat the apples they trample to un wanted thorny bushes to death.


I've mentioned this in other threads, but my cows demolished the blackberries without being bribed with apples. It's got to be a breed that likes to forage. Mine are Belted Galloways.
 
Casey Homecroft
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Location: Ohio, Zone 6a
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I think apple trees in a pasture is a great idea, but the main hurdle would be the cows destroying the young trees. They would probably need to be standard trees, to grow out of the cows' reach. You would have to protect the trees until they're big enough to hold their own against some abuse. Cows love to rub up against anything they can to scratch their backs & butts, and they'll eat young saplings too. I learned this the hard way after I planted a bunch of white pine seedlings along one of my pasture fence rows. The heifers decided to eat every single one of them, and then proceeded to eat the orange marking flags! Live and learn, ha!

I'm thinking of planting some apple trees on one of the pasture hillsides to help against erosion and provide a bit of a wind break (plus some tasty cider for me too!). Letting cows eat up any fallen apples will help reduce some apple diseases & pests too. I think my plan is going to be to set up a perimeter of portable electric fence with a solar charger around the young trees until they're established.

I've heard of people making a ring out of a cattle panel to put around a tree, but I would think the cows would end up knocking that around too if it wasn't electrified (especially if you have a bull... they seem to like to play soccer with anything they can). Or, you could plant them in the corners of your pasture, and protect them with a temporary fence across the corner until they're big enough. Although, that wouldn't let you plant a lot a trees.

On a side note: cherry trees aren't so good for pastures, because the leaves can be toxic to cattle (especially after a frost).
 
Peter Fishlock
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So guys I decided to design a rotation system for people wanting to keep cows or other animals like sheep, goats whatever.

I started by doing the same size circles in a circle surrounding a circle, then I made the inner circle smaller as its role was purely to move the animals from one paddock to another. then when I started to connect the circles something really funny happened, the pattern resembled a flower!!! this was not my intention to start with.

I was happy with this as Bill says things work better if it represents a pattern that occurs naturally somewhere or other.

So to talk you through.

My goal is to field as many animal as I can on the given land, my modal is based on a 4 acre plot but you can expand or make it smaller to fit.

there are 6 paddocks each with there own shelter probably much like sepps modal. In each paddock there is a raised chicken arc so the chickens can be safe at night, this is so the chickens can scratch through the animal poo, removing parasites such as intestinal worms, lungworm and other stuff. So each paddock will have its own ground bird population. each paddock is surrounded by a live barrier, ash trees can be grown coppiced and when the coppice grows, they can be layed to create a live barrier/ fodder, so the barrier is the food also, other plants other than ash can be used as to make sure the animals have a varied diet.

Each paddock is to be planted with over 20 different species of grass, this is so the animals can stay outside All year round without chewing up the ground. see fordhall farm part of video a farm for the future.
put simply most farms now use 4 different types of grass, whereas if you have alot more species the grass grows at different rates and has different root strengths and depths, and grows better, this mixed with clover and other wild plants that suits your animals dietry needs.

Additionally to this each paddock twins up as an orchard, the orchard should have as many different type of fruit tree as possible or any you know that would suit the animal, apples, maybe pear nuts etc. these trees will flourish from the poos of the cattle and chickens. The animals will eat the windfall and you ca eat the harvest, windfall from paddocks that doesnt currently have animals in can be made into cider or fed to the animals.

as you see the outside of the flower pattern there is a circle which on the drawing I have put as willow coppice as have design this to go as part of an eco comminity that has fuel needs, but these too could be forage or fodder for the animals, the whole idea of this is to be able to complete feed these animals all year round.there are triangle shaped inbetween the paddock and the outside which could be used as rotational pig area or just areas to grow stuff.

I havent put it in the diagram but I would also introduce a 2 swale /dam system that goes through 3 paddocks then another 3 paddock below. the dams would be outside of the design but they back flow into the swales at the desired height of the designer, the top swale dam would then over flow into the lower swale, dame system providing water all year for the animals harvested purely from the land and then push it out hyper fertilized to other growing systems.

Using this principle I would start small regarding animal population and build up!! you can then monitor and decide if your size system can handle more animals. I would imagine that each paddock size and how many naimals in each paddock would determine how long you live them in there for. At most I would have 3 paddocks with animals in at anyone time then rotate given 3 at rest aswell. because the barrier if food and the windfall is food, it will mean they wont eat the grass quite as fast or even half as fast.

I have not put this to practice but will do one day.

All opinions and criticisms welcome
 
Peter Fishlock
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here it is
animal orchard.jpg
[Thumbnail for animal orchard.jpg]
 
kent smith
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Location: Pennsylvania
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Last summer when all the apple trees were overloading us with fruit I would take a wheel barrel of apples out to the cows. They loved them and never had a problem. Now when I move their paddock next to the peach tree they stripped off every peach they could reach. The wife was not happy about that, but they eat them stones and all.
kent
 
Cj Sloane
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I wouldn't get too attached to the flower plan - you really need to know the lay of the land first. I believe Mollison (in Intro to Permaculture) has a similar setup for pigs but the inner circle is housing and there is a different exit for each paddock.
.
 
Peter Fishlock
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Yeah I designed it for shits and giggles, was funny how it turned out a flower, it started with just circles, you could wrap that around most pieces of land even on a hill , it isnt meant for flat pieces of land, because you really want to harvest the water to keep the swales with a small amount of water for the animals to drink, plus on a hill apparently the flies have a hard time flying around and botheirng the cows, especially at the top. you just would have to measure well, it isnt even absolutely essential for all the paddocks to be symetrical, just roughly the same size in metre square so you can get the timing between moving them right, there are plenty of variables you could do from that.

I havent read the Introduction to permaculture by bill yet, I just watched most of the PDC, the problem I have, is my brain is a manic one, and I have to take information in really fast or I lose it and my concentration with it, when Bill does a lesson quite oftenly he will go off on a tangent and tell a story, and ALL of the stories are normally really educational and funny, but for some reason it disrupts my train of thought and some times sends me to sleep because He has a really warm voice and its like being read a bed time story, and because I watch the pdc last thing at night eek. On Geoff Lawtons lesson I bing awake because the info comes in just right. Saying that I wouldnt have them stories moved because they are just gold and I know once I have done a PDC that I will look through that to old bill just for the stories.

back to cows and apples, essentially you could still use the principles and the feeding in any field, planting ash and other things they eat for the barrier, fruit and nuts in the field and Lots and Lots of different grasses and ground plants they like. I wonder if the beef would taste better?

 
Olanga Jay
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We live on the border with the park, where many wild apple trees. I gather there apples for my apple pie, and I bring it to my cow, too. We have never had problems, but I gather good apples. While in the woods, I often see bloated animals from apples (deer, raccoons and even bears), but it happens only after the early frosts when the massive amount of fermented apples. Then the park even cancel the hunt, because all animals are drunk or lying bloated. But I walk among these bloated beasts - they are like dead, but when I approached very close, they open their eyes and continue to voraciously eating fermented apples. I've never seen anyone actually died from this.
 
Peter Fishlock
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THERE ADDICTS!!! HE HE HE

its funny in nature i think when you come across these things.

thanks for sharing that with us, I cant imagine seeing a bear let alone a drunk bear!!

 
Olanga Jay
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All animals are fond of alcohol which is in a fermented apples after the frost. One finds a spot where a lot of these apples and they bite all the apples around! This is a label so that others do not take his apples. And then they eat as much as they can ... Often fainting from overeating ... Then, on the sunny warmth apples are keep to ferment inside their bodies and blows ...but alcohol is already beginning to act and the animal is in a state of drunken bliss ...When I come very close (to check whether he is alive), he opens his eyes and in fear that I'll take his apples, continues to eat them. Usually, in such a drunken disgrace, they are dragged along for several days. Who turned out not to have enough walk swaying in the search for a new place ... So they often walk on the roads and fall asleep on the highways.
But this happens only when the frost comes early, and still a lot of apples under the trees. Such happens about once every five years.

Wild life is a major attraction for tourists to our sites. While apples are a major attraction for wildlife. It is also important to consider when planting apple trees... Because all neighboring raccoons, deer and bears will move under your apple trees... The deer are tearing electric fence and then go into the wilderness with your cattle ... Raccoons will know that you have chickens and will collect eggs before you ... And from the bears there are a lot problems ... My advice is not to plant apple trees close to sensitive sites.
 
tel jetson
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a friend had a cow that choked on an apple. died. fell over under the tree and bloated up like a dead whale. it was the first time it happened in over 30 years of letting cattle graze in the orchard, but it does happen from time to time. now he keeps the cattle out when there are apples on the ground or in reach on the tree.

probably not a huge risk, but something to think about.
 
Peter Fishlock
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wow cheers for that tel, ill bear that in mind,

and jay thats amazing nothing like that happens in engand,

its hard to imagine, i can see why people would come to see that sort of nature. It must be very much like a wilderessthere or atleast thats what i imagine it to be
 
Olanga Jay
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I've never been in England. Now I'm in U.S. but had lived in the Austrian Alps, and there apple attracts mountain goats and wild boars (this is worse than the bears : o) Everywhere in the old farms, apple trees planted on the borders of pastures and farms. For the case of problems it would be easy to isolate this part from the farm animals.
 
Peter Fishlock
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the only thing apples attract in england are cheeky little children he he
 
Olanga Jay
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Think again. You have squirrels ... I had a house in downtown Boston, and in the front yard, I planted an apple tree ... All squirrels were living with me! They gnawed through the entire attic ... :0)
 
Peter Fishlock
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Lol i didnt think about the squirrel i spose a fox might pop by for a fermented apple to or even a Badger.

QUESTION can you eat a cow that has just died from bloat?
 
Olanga Jay
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I do not think you can ... Old German farmer told me that was great tragedy during the World War II, when there was a time of hunger and a flock of sheep have died from blowing on the clover pasture. It's something to do with ptomaine ...Ptomaine appears once in the body, if the animal is dead by itself. You can eat only killed animals, or who died from an accident. For example, the animal was hit by a car ... died from lightning or electrical shock from the fence .. fell off a cliff ... and the like.
 
Ben Walter
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I'm not sure if it's been mentioned in here, but Mark Shepard has a great book that discusses pasturing animals in savannah-type food forests.

It's called "Restoration Agriculture" and it's worth the read.
 
Anne Rambling
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Silly little bit of trivia.. many of our favorite apple varieties.. were discovered in cow pastures.
 
Andy Reed
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I'm going to second the chocking on an apple as a most likely cause of death by apple, not bloat. It happens with cows on swedes, or turnips as well. A bit of alkathene pipe rammed down the throat can clear it if you happen to be 'Johnny on the spot'. A simple check down the throat will tell if it was chocking or bloat.

I'm also going to say acidosis not drunk, with regard to animals eating too many apples. They appear drunk, and slow and uncoordinated, maybe even unable to stand. The best cure is 1/2cup baking soda dissolved in water, administered orally, for a cow. I nearly had two cows die from this when they got out and went awol. I got advice from a vet, an am glad I did.

Cows are just an animal that can eat themselves to death. They can get bloat from clover or alfalfa, or a few other plants. It's my opinion that you actually need to be very aware of what, and how much they are eating, at all times.
 
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