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Home-Built Slicer Helps Fatten Angus With Apples
When Steve Gilbertson slices apples he doesn’t mess around. He pours 5 gal. of apples at a time into a chute that feeds them into 18 vertically spinning table saw blades powered by a 1 hp motor. The slices land in a bin that Gilbertson moves with his skid loader to feed fresh to 30 Angus cattle.
  “They go wild for apples,” Gilbertson says. “They fatten and marble with apples from the sugar content (and about 100 calories/apple).
  The Browerville, Minn., producer feeds 15 lbs. of apples/head/day as long as his supply holds up. In 2014, the apple diet only went through mid-December because of hail in the summer causing the apples to deteriorate faster. Most had to be fed fresh.
  Gilbertson explains that he planted more than 2,000 apple trees over the past several years planning to sell apples retail. When he realized the market was weak in his area, he began selling them wholesale to family members’ businesses located closer to the Twin Cities’ retail market. He started feeding apples that didn’t sell to cattle in 2010.
  Since cattle can choke on apples, Gilbertson realized he had to slice them up. He did it by hand at first. It didn’t take him long to mechanize. He figured out a design and approached students at a local technical college who built the slicer. It’s more of a prototype, but it works, slicing apples at the rate of 20 bushels per hour, he says.
  He has a large cooler and cold storage area. He raises several apple varieties that ripen early, mid-season and late-season, including consumer favorites such as the Honeycrisp and SweeTango.
  Gilbertson notes that currently beef prices are high on the conventional market. Should prices drop, he plans on marketing his cattle as value-added because they are grass-fed on 190 acres and apple-finished from 10 acres of apple trees following organic practices. Gilbertson also sells apple trees in the spring.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Steve Gilbertson, Gilby’s Fruit Co., 26009 422nd Street West, Browerville, Minn. 56438 (ph 218 894-2444; www.gilbysfruit.com; gilbysfruit@hotmail.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #1