Rehoboth, Massachusetts residents can recycle their Christmas trees this year by turning the festive decorations into animal feed.
Tish Vadnais, co-owner of the town’s Homestead Farm, appealed on social media this week to anyone disposing of an unwanted clean tree to drop it off at their business address, where it will be used as food for their goats and sheep.
The Homestead Farm’s Facebook post on Monday read: “As long as there are no sprays, tinsel or ornaments, our animals will benefit from your unwanted tree.”
Speaking to WJAR, Vadnais said the animals that ingest the trees “have many health benefits” because they contain vitamin C and are “basically a natural worm”.
She said, “You eat it to the bark. A nice, damp tree makes better forage. You don’t usually eat a really parched tree.” And while they are on the goat and sheep menu, the trees can be used for more than one unique meal.
“We will let them flake – and it will become bedding and foundation for our animals in the paddock. So it’s all about recycling Christmas trees,” added Vadnais.
Vadnais told WJAR that the company has been feeding animals Christmas trees for several years, but it got extra exposure this week by posting the appeal on Facebook. “We’ve been doing this for a few years. This farm has been here since the early ’70s and we’ve been feeding Christmas trees for as long as I can remember,” she said.
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It’s a tradition that extends well outside of Massachusetts, with animals being given trees in farms and zoos around the world after the holiday season.
Last December, the owner of a Canada-based “goat yoga” business made local headlines after saying she would welcome Christmas tree donations to feed her animals.
“They pounce on it and will be eating it in minutes … it’s a quick process. They are food-motivated animals. So when there is food on-site, they lose their minds,” says Susan Ashley, owner of Laughing Goat Yoga Studio in Thorndale, Ontario, said CBC.
In January 2019, The Associated Press reported that a New Jersey farm owner, Tami Fulcher Millaway, had offered to collect her neighbors’ trees for the second consecutive year to feed her animals, and that her goats had about Had eaten 50 trees.
“It takes them a day or two, or sometimes hours. They eat the bark and everything.” “I had a 14-foot tree last year. They peeled it off. It took three hours,” Millaway told the AP. Some people who donated wanted to watch the feeding.
In the German city of Stuttgart, Wilhelma Zoo caught the attention of the local media in 2018 because it received up to 200 excess trees for its animals, which were used for animal feed, entertainment and park decorations.
“For the elephants, a pine tree is not much of a treat,” said a spokesman, adding that they are more likely to play with the trees. “Other animals, like big cats, find the scent exciting.”
Christmas trees are ready for sale on the Christmas tree farm of the farmer Heiko Tacke in Halver, western Germany on December 9, 2020.
INA FASSBENDER / AFP / Getty