Researchers at Cornell University have discovered that apple waste can be fed to chickens to boost their health. According to the experts, the study demonstrates the potential for apple pomace to improve gut and intestinal health.
“Apples are one of the top fruits produced in the United States and we have long been aware of their health benefits,” said study lead author Cydney Jackson.
“In our study, we were able to see how an apple – specifically, the Empire apple developed at Cornell in the 1940s – improved the intestinal health of production broilers, and we observed signs for the overall good health of the bird.”
For the investigation, the team injected juice, pulp and other waste from Empire apples into chicken eggs. After the eggs hatched, the researchers collected samples for analysis.
The results showed that the apple pomace supported the growth of potentially beneficial gut bacteria, boosted microbes in the large intestine, improved the bioavailability of iron, and increased the chick’s transport system for amino acids.
“Apples are comprised of bioactive constituents such as phytochemicals and prebiotics that could help intestinal health and the gut microbiome,” said study senior author Professor Elad Tako.
According to the U.S. Apple Association, approximately 33.4 million bushels of apples were produced in 2021-2022, including nearly 175,350 metric tons of apple pomace. This waste is typically tossed into landfills, where it is damaging to the environment.
“Pomace is treated like industrial waste now. If we can potentially use the pomace, which is rich in nutrients, we can add it to the diet of broilers,” said Professor Tako. “We can improve the nutrition in their feed and achieve productivity in a more natural way – and potentially reduce the use of added dietary chemicals.”
The study authors noted that this was an initial study to demonstrate the potential for adding apple waste to chicken feed. They said that further research, including long-term studies, are needed.
Funding for the research was provided by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The study is published in the journal Nutrients.
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