Every year, as soon as the holidays are over, people begin asking – can my goats eat Christmas trees? Farms ask for tree donations for hungry goats, and the goats love every minute of it. But, some people are now realizing not all Christmas trees are created equal, and not all trees are good for goats.
Should My Goats Eat Christmas Trees?
As with most things, the answer to this question isn’t black and white. Before you think about giving your goat a Christmas tree to eat, there’s a few things you need to think about
Where Did That Tree Come From?
Depending on where a Christmas tree is purchased, it’s very hard to pinpoint where it came from. The big box stores (Lowes, Tractor Supply etc.) usually bring trees in from several farms. Depending on what state you’re in, they may even come from several different states. Out west in the US, they’re often even flown in.
In order to survive shipping and a potentially long stay on a lot, most Christmas trees are treated with a number of chemicals. Most commercially grown trees are usually treated with at least four different classes of pesticides – fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and miticides. On top of that, many are treated with color enhancing chemicals, and flame retardant chemicals. Only about 1% of Christmas trees grown in the US are grown organically.
So, when thinking about feeding your goats a Christmas tree, you have to ask – do you really want to risk them ingesting all of those chemicals? All of those potential poisons? Especially during a time when a lot of people have does that are bred. Toxins can have a serious effect on developing fetuses.
Even though people have the best intentions, they can’t always tell you with certainty where their tree came from or what it was treated with. Unless the Christmas tree came from your property, a friend’s property, or a reputable local organic tree farm, don’t accept stray Christmas trees to feed to your goats.
Even a Good Tree Can Be a Bad Tree
There’s pine and then there’s pine. Most pine is good for goats – it’s chock full of vitamin C and tannins act as a natural wormer, especially in the winter. However, certain varieties of pine – ponderosa pine most notoriously – can cause goats to abort, or be toxic in large quantities. Feeding large quantities of pine can even cause discolored urine. Feeding your goats anything they’re not familiar with, even a new variety of pine can cause digestive issues.
The More You Know
So, while you’re goats would love a wintertime snack, think long and hard about that pine tree your goats may be eating. Getting some nice evergreen branches from your own backyard may just be a better bet. Know your tree. Know your goats. Know the risks.