A Christmas treat

RIVER JOHN — It’s like eating your favourite chocolate at Christmas time, a special treat as a pick me up in the gloomy winter…

Christmas not only brings treats and presents to humans, but to vegetation loving goats as well.

For the past four or five years, Cindy Morrison has been feeding her goats their favourite Christmas treat – her holiday tree.

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“I just started feeding them my own Christmas tree, then some from friends,” said Morrison. “It’s nice to give them a little treat in the middle of winter.”

Morrison’s four goats manage to clear off a few Christmas trees each year, eating just about every part of the tree including the bark and sometimes even a bit of the wood. In the wintertime, the goats live in her barn and are fed hay and a bit of dairy feed consisting of oats or molasses. Although they don’t mind the hay, fresh vegetation is their favourite
type of food. Morrison said the fresher the tree, the faster the goats mow down the remains of the Christmas tree.

“It’s nice to give them a break from just eating hay,” she said.

Goats, when it comes to eating habits, are related closely to deer in that they are browsers rather than grazers. This means that when set free in a pasture, rather than slowly eating all of the grass from where they are, goats will wander around finding whatever they think looks the best.

“They are the best things out there for clearing land,” laughed Bonnie Allan of Seafoam, another local goat owner poking fun at the fact that goats will eat just about anything you put in their pen. She also shared that she had recently learned that Christmas trees can act as a natural de wormer for goats, which is a great health benefit alongside the other benefits of being able to give them fresh vegetation in the winter.

“It’s like chocolates at Christmas for them,” Allan said.

As well as benefiting the goats, Morrison added that feeding goats Christmas trees is a great way to recycle the trees rather than throwing them to the curb to be collected for landfill. She noted that once the goats eat them, manure is collected and this goes on to help plants and crops grow.

If you are not able to find someone with goats to give your tree to, Pictou County Solid Waste encourages to those with trees to put them to the curb to be collected. Tree collection days for waste management will take place on your collection date between January 9 and 20. The guidelines they ask for in terms of tree collection are to remove trees from tree bags, remove ornaments, tinsel and tree stands and to ensure that the trees are not frozen into the ground or snow. Once trees are collected they are stockpiled and eventually chipped and added to the organics pile of compost.

Susan MacDonald, regional co-ordinator for Pictou County Solid Waste, also mentioned that
artificial Christmas trees are considered to be garbage and are accepted in pieces no longer than three and a half feet long, so they should be set out in pieces and bundled together.


This goat at Cindy Morrison’s farm in River John is happily munching its Christmas tree treat. (Brimicombe photo)

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Heather Brimicombe
Heather Brimicombe is a Pictou County native and graduate from the University of King's College in Halifax with a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree as well as a combined major in Sustainability. She has previously won a Canadian Communities Newspapers award for a multimedia feature and was part of a team nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalism data award in the investigative category. Photography, art, sports and outdoor activities are all hobbies of hers as well as crafting, and baking.