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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Orange Peels Clean Cows from the Inside Out! - Text only

Orange Peels Clean Cows from the Inside Out!

Oranges are sweet and juicy. When you peel the orange, you can see brightly colored slices inside. Now, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Texas think they have found a good way to use those leftover orange peels.

Cows, like people, naturally have both good and bad "bugs" in their guts. These "bugs" are bacteria and other tiny organisms that you can see with a microscope.

Todd R. Callaway, a microbiologist with ARS in College Station, Texas, is showing how feeding orange peels to cows helps clean away the bad bugs inside them.

He knew that oranges provide cows with good fiber and vitamins. But then he read that special or "essential" oils inside the peels also provide a natural bacteria-killer effect, called "antibiotic." When you have been sick, your parent may have given you an antibiotic to help you get rid of bad bacteria that were making you sick.

Callaway showed that orange pulp helped get rid of the bad bacteria in cows after the cows ate the pulp. Then he showed that the cows liked the orange pulp and peel—and they're easy to feed to the cows when the oranges are grown nearby.

But Callaway also knew that citrus peels can be heavy and expensive to ship long distances. So he used orange peels that had been ground down and made into pellets. When he fed the orange-peel pellets to the test animals for eight days, he found they had far fewer bad bacteria in their guts.

— By Rosalie Marion Bliss, Agricultural Research Service, Information Staff.

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Last Modified: 11/7/2012
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