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Old 10-20-2016, 09:20 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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Default Cows and apple trees and maples

looking for advice from the forum on keeping cows, specifically I am starting to plan out where I am going to run the fence to pasture some beef cows or steers next year. I plan to run 3 lines (maybe 4) of high tensile 18 guage barbed wire and a line of electric wire. i plan to clear the brush in the way over winter so i can set posts and run the lines as soon as the ground is thawed in spring.

the southern 3rd of my lot is scrub with few valuable trees, and i plan to brush hog the majority of it when i can, but in the meantime i am going to fence the property line (over the old fence). this will be combined with the middle 3rd which was logged off this summer and seeded with oats and clover, there is an additional 3 acres of the northern 3rd that was logged and i plan to enclose too. the remaining area is where my cabin and buildings are, the area i plan to garden, the white pine stand, and the orchard. if i buy a little more wire i could enclose all but the cabin/buildings and the garden. this will let the cows have free run of almost the entire property and should help keep brush down (just the brush they like). my concern is that they might damage the apple trees or the maples if i let them in there, some of that ground is soft and muddy (red maple stand is swamp soil) and root damage is my main concern, plus i don't know if they will try to eat the apple trees (they can have the fallen and low apples).

does anyone have experience with cows in orchards and maple stands, will they be fine in there or should i exclude it from the fenced area.

i plan to sub divide the enclosure later on but for next year my concern is controlling brush and improving soil while the stumps rot. i will sub divide the areas the spring of 2019 (the cows will be butchered in fall 2018, no cows to overwinter, then get more in the spring after the areas are divided).
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Old 10-20-2016, 07:26 PM
doc doc is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: The Driftless Area, WI
Posts: 1,531

I let my neighbor run about 20 cow-calf pairs on my 25 acres of pasture. Scattered about it are several mature (30 ft +) red maples, several tall hickories and a few dozen old "wild" apple trees.

These apple trees resulted from the cattle many yrs ago being fed apples and scattering the seeds. These trees grow with several stems arising in a clump and have never been pruned. They all do well and are not molested by the cattle-- but then, they don't grow with a single trunk like in a planned orchard, liable to be used as scratching posts (?).
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Old 10-20-2016, 10:15 PM
goldengate goldengate is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: in a mountain valley
Posts: 150

Au contraire.... I have had a cow walk up to an apple tree and tear off a limb for a snack. What a nightmare.
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Old 10-21-2016, 10:14 AM
Setanta Male Setanta is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 863

My apple trees were wild grown, the area was a pasture about 40 years earlier and the apple trees probably came the same way, lots of hawthorn in there as well. half of the northern 3rd was planted with scott pine, the red maple grew naturally and out competed them, they are just getting big enough to tap (half are 8-10 inches in diameter). the older ones were cut 40 years ago and are now multi stem from stump sprouts. the rest of the area was full of poplar/aspen that were full mature and dying off. the types of trees and sizes tell me the history of the lot. most of the apples are small, good for some products (cider, juice, sauce, Jelly, free livestock feed) a few have very large apples over 3 inches across (better for canning as pie filling, dry apple rings, spiced rings). the hawthorn can be canned as whole fruit, pickled, made into jelly, etc.

I thinned the area over winter to benefit the better trees and did the most critical pruning taking off dead branches and distributing weight as needed. thanks to the deer most apples and branches and leaves are well over 6 feet off the ground and I need to use a picker or ladder to get them. and a lot of the trees are multi stem, since it was thinned I gave the trees a summer to grow a bit and build up vigor, I will make some lite pruning this winter and better pruning next winter to slowly train them up.
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