This time of year, the fruit trees are dropping the excess pears and apples from the trees. The immature fruit is falling from the tree as a natural thinning program in an effort to produce larger fruit. Leaving the fruit on the ground to rot not only makes a mess but it encourages rodent activity.
We pick up the fallen fruit daily. The cows are rewarded with the discarded fruit. The bounty is about five gallons a day that is split between morning and evening feedings.Since we are working with the show animals to get them ready for the fairs, they are the ones that get the treats. I figure it is a good trade off. We fuss around grooming and training, while they get sliced apples with their feed.
Even though some of the fruit is small and very green, the cows just love this special addition to their diet. Even two month old calves scoot into the head gates of the manger to get a bite or two of the fruit.
We slice the hard fruit to avoid a choking hazard for the cows and make the eating more enjoyable.
When we move the animals to the fair, the daily dose of apples will go right along also. During the long afternoons between competitions, visitors to the fair will have the opportunity to feed a slice of apple to a cow. Many times this is a first interaction with any kind of bovine and children of all ages enjoy the experience. The cows play along because they know all about the treats.
This is just the beginning of the apple and pear season. The different varieties of fruit trees ripen at different times and the season can run well into October depending upon the weather. Right now the yellow transparent and honey crisp apples are the main flavors with a few bartlet pears. Soon the gravenstein apple will also be on the menu.