Monday, October 12, 2015

The Perils of Apples

Several people wanted to know why the apples were dangerous to the equines. A few apples a day are fine for a healthy horse or donkey, although they can be an issue for animals with insulin resistance.  I am sure that my herd are all still managing to steal at least 8-10 apples a day as is.  However, I picked up about 150 pounds of apples under that one tree.  If Tessa and the donkeys got into that many apples, it would very likely kill them and there are a couple of reasons why:

  1. First, how would YOU feel if you ate 50 pounds of apples?  Unfortunately, donkeys and horses are rather foolish about apples and they will keep eating them way beyond the point of no return.  At the least, they would end up with a severe stomach ache.  
  2. Since their stomachs are very small and not designed for a mass influx of apples, their GI processes would be highly compromised and slowed down even more than their normal very slow  progress.  The apples would ferment inside the gut, causing huge amounts of gas, which would likely cause a torsion of the bowel.  In other words - life threatening colic.
  3. The massive intake of sugar in the apples would cause laminitis.  Huge intakes of sugar and/or a severe disruption of the GI tract, triggers a complicated cascade event that ends up as swelling inside the hoof capsules.  Since the outer wall of the hoof is hard and cannot give under this pressure, the swelling literally tears the inner structures of the hoof all to hell.  It can get so bad that the bone inside the hoof detaches and actually comes out the bottom of the foot. This is excruciatingly painful, and in severe cases, the only humane option is euthanasia.  
So, that's why all those apples were keeping me up nights and giving me nightmares.  If any of you are thinking that it is a waste to feed them all to the pigs, don't worry.  I still have several trees over by my pond, out of donkey reach, that are just as loaded.  Besides, apple-fed pork is mighty tasty:)


  1. Whoops, try this again, .. I knew that lots of apples were not good for equine! Good info.

  2. I so appreciate your translation of "medicalese" into language all of us can understand.

  3. Just curious...are the apples good enough to sell? Seems like one should be able to get some profit with so many!

  4. I wish I knew some pigs, I would have given them all the apples at the old house!

  5. Right! There are only two good uses for apples: 1. pig feed 2. Apple pies! I vote for the second. :-)