It's already the middle of January, and many of us still have our holiday decorations up... oops. Whether that means you haven't taken down those outdoor light displays — or if you're procrastinating the disposal of your tree — it's something none of us really look forward to post-holiday season.
But because we're always looking for eco-friendly ways to get rid of our trees, we're wondering: can goats eat Christmas trees?
Even though a fir or White Scotch tree may not necessarily sound like a night out at Dirt Candy, your local farm or farmed animal sanctuary may currently be seeking out tree donations, to keep their beloved billies satiated.
Of course, we don't condone what happens within the animal agriculture industry. However, this could be your new zero-waste way of sustainably getting rid of your tree, while making some adorable animals happy as can be.
Can goats eat Christmas trees?
Again, a Christmas tree might not quite be up your alley for a midday snack or late night supper, but for a goat, it's considered a healthy and tasty treat.
A local farm near my Catskills home, called Sweet Rama's in Earlton, N.Y., was eager to accept our tree. After putting our ornaments and garlands into storage, my partner brought it directly to the farm, and was able to watch the billies, kids, and nannys feast on the pines and branches through a gate lined with wire.
According to Timber Creek Farmer, pine needles contain antioxidants, minerals, and a wide range of nutrients for goats as a supplement to their normal diet of grains and feed. It helps fend off worms, and contains vitamin C and sometimes vitamin A. And because it's a novelty, it will make the goats happy — similar to how we love a tasty treat every once in a while.
It's important to note trees should be free of plastic netting, tinsel, glitter, or anything else that might make them sick.
"The No. 1 factor for us is free goat chow," Joanne Rose of Sweet Rama's tells me. "Last summer's drought caused a hay shortage, and the year before was too wet. Christmas trees are a great, healthy way to stretch out our hay supply. [The goats] usually eat the needles, and then strip off the bark."
"We stack up the trees when by the goats are finished with them, and in the springtime my husband runs them through a chipper to make bedding for the goats or chickens... we take leftover pumpkins and gourds after autumn, too!"
However, this only applies to fresh cut trees, organic trees, and Christmas trees bought from small, local businesses. Christmas trees purchased from large sale lots such as Costco or Walmart may be sprayed with nasty chemicals such as colorants or fire retardants. Therefore, it's imperative to inquire at the retailer, before eventually feeding them to a goat.
Once it's confirmed a safe goat specialty, though, this is a great zero-waste way to divert trees from landfills.
Don't live near any farms? There are other zero-waste ways to dispose of your Christmas tree.
If you live in a city, there likely aren't any Christmas tree-eating goats near you. And if that's the case, there are other eco-friendly ways to discard your tree at the end of the holiday season.
Start out by checking Earth911 listings, local papers, and online to see if local spots are recycling trees. Select Home Depot locations do so free of charge, if you call in advance, and Check Sammy will pick up your tree for free — after going through the chippper, it makes for great mulch.
Some fisheries and conservation organizations also put Christmas trees at the bottom of lakes, to rewild marine habitats. Certain parks also accept discarded trees, to break them down for hiking pathways.
There are so many eco-friendly options — and tossing them in landfill trash definitely isn't one of them. Watching the goats chow down on your tree is a pretty entertaining sight to see, anyway.