Is it Safe for Goats to Eat Christmas Trees

Deciding what to do with a living Christmas tree after the holidays are over is definitely something to think about. If you live on a farm and/or own goats, you might be wondering if it would be okay to feed the tree to them as a way to help get rid of it. Goats are known for being voracious eaters, but is it actually safe for them to eat Christmas trees?

It is safe for goats to eat Christmas trees, as long as they only eat a moderate amount. Too much of the bark or pine needles can prove poisonous for them. Only some types of pine trees are acceptable to give goats, as trees like the Yew pine tree are much too poisonous to give any animal.

Allowing your goats to eat your Christmas tree after you’re done with it is definitely an effective way to get more money’s worth out of your holiday decoration. In this article is more information about the benefits of letting goats eat Christmas trees, plants that are helpful or harmful for them, and other animals that can eat Christmas trees as well.

The Amount Goats Can Have

Just like most other foods goats can have, pine trees are fine (and can even be beneficial) for them to eat in small, moderate amounts. Eating it in big amounts can prove to be highly toxic.

Goats are able to eat certain parts of the pine trees, such as the bark, branch tips, and pine needles. Don’t expect them to eat clean through the tree trunk though! Goats are meant to be animals with rather steady diets, so changing it in any way can cause them to become upset. While they might be delighted at first with being able to eat a pine tree, later on their bodies might not totally agree with the sudden change – especially if they eat too much at once.

Since it’s something they’re not used to, it must be given in moderation, and in small amounts, because the change can cause bad effects in their bodies and even lead to severe sicknesses. Providing one tree for a group of 8 to 12 goats will guarantee that there won’t be enough to cause toxicity, depending on the size of the tree as well. Goats are typically very good at not getting full on something that can be toxic and will most likely choose a different food than the toxic one if there is an option.


Goats find many plants delicious, including pine trees. Giving them one after you’re done using it can provide them with a fun holiday treat to break up the monotonous winter days, and appear as a special gift since goats typically only have hay during the colder months.

Doing this will guarantee a use for your tree after you’re done using it and it only takes a couple hours to a couple days for goats to finish off a tree. Pine needles also have many nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. For goats, they are good for intestinal worm control and high vitamin C content, as long as they’re not overeaten. Source

Here are some of the kinds of pine trees that are safe for goats to eat.

  • Douglas fir
  • Scotch pine
  • Blue spruce
  • Fraser fir
  • White pine.


It is extremely important to make sure that there are no man-made materials, chemicals, or preservatives on your Christmas tree like colorant, fire retardant, or pesticides. These can prove to be extremely harmful to your animals if you give them the tree with those things on it. Talk to whoever you got your tree from if you can to find out if anything was used on it.

Another thing to be cautious of is making sure to get all the decorations off your tree once you’re done with it. If you give the tree to your goats with tinsel, ornaments, or hooks still on it, it can cause harm to the animals – both internal and external. Be sure nothing is on the tree still when you prepare to feed it to your goats.

The dangers for goats of eating the wrong type of pine tree, or too much of it, include having an extreme upset stomach, neurological damage, and many types of metabolic issues. You must take extra care when choosing to give this treat to any animal. Source

Plants That Are Okay For Goats To Eat

This list does not consist of the entire variety of plants that are acceptable for goats to eat, but it does contain some of the main ones. All of these should just be allowed in moderation if at all possible, as too much will definitely hurt your goat rather than help.

  • Acorns – in very small amounts
  • Cedar needles
  • Trees – the most common ones are Douglas fir, elm, oak (just the leaves), weeping willow, and spruce
  • Dandelions
  • Ferns
  • Clovers
  • Catnip
  • Ivy
  • Honeysuckle
  • Mint
  • Moss
  • Nettles
  • Nightshade – this one is tricky, but a little should be okay as long as it’s not in the fall
  • Sunflowers
  • Lilacs

Plants That Are Poisonous For Goats

Just like the previous list, these are just some of the more common plants and foods that aren’t good for goats to eat. If goats start to taste something they think might be poisonous, they do have the sense to leave it behind.

  • Yew pine trees – these are extremely poisonous. Make sure you know what kind of pine tree you have before you choose to feed it to your goat.
  • Oleander
  • Red maples
  • Holly trees and bushes
  • Lily-of-the-valley
  • Azalea

Other Creatures That Can Eat Pine Trees

  • Chickens: They can nibble on the branches and pine needles, and even play inside the tree as well.
  • Cattle: They should be fine to eat any part of the tree, but eating it in large amounts can cause abortion.
  • Pigs: Eating it is beneficial for them because it acts as a natural dewormer.
  • Horses: Too much of it can cause distress to even healthy and well-fed horses.
  • Exotic animals (Ex: elephants, lions, even kangaroos): They love them as both a snack and a toy! People will often send their used Christmas trees to zoos so the animals can enjoy them.
  • Humans: Yes, humans can eat pine trees too! We can have both the needles and bark; you can use the needles to make pine needle tea, which has many benefits of its own.

Recent Posts