What Do You Give a Goat for Christmas?

Two goat siblings, Will and Grace, chow down on a discarded Christmas tree at the McCoy farmstead in Randolph Center. (Herald / Dylan Kelley)

Trees Make Seasonal Snack on Area Farms

Will and Grace love eating your old Christmas trees. The sibling French Alpine dairy goats live in Hannah and Seth McCoy’s backyard in Randolph Center.

It was a friend of the McCoy’s, the owners of a goat farm, who told them a few years ago how her animals loved eating discarded coniferous trees. “We weren’t really sure if our goats would like one, but they actually did and now get really excited when they see one coming,” Hannah McCoy explained.

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McCoy posted on Facebook and Front Porch Forum on December 29, advertising anyone is welcome to drop off their tinsel-free trees at her home on North Randolph Road, which she and her husbnad will feed to their goats.

Before feeding trees to the goats, the McCoys check for hidden ornaments or chemical treatments. Two years ago, they received four trees. This year, McCoy said, twice the number of people have already contacted her promising their trees are on the way.

The goats are not the only fans of Christmas trees though. The sheep—and the McCoy’s donkey—are as well.

Luna the donkey enjoys a seasonal snack—a discarded Christmas tree—at the McCoy farmstead in Randolph Center. (Herald / Dylan Kelley)

Luna the donkey enjoys a seasonal snack—a discarded Christmas tree—at the McCoy farmstead in Randolph Center. (Herald / Dylan Kelley)

“It’s entertaining to just stand out here and watch the sheep fight over the tree,” McCoy said.

Luna, their 11 year-old donkey who shares a pen with the fluffy flock, was not too sheepish herself fighting for a spot to nibble on the tree. “It doesn’t even take them a day to completely strip a tree down,” McCoy’s husband Seth said with a laugh. “Once they start, everything’s gone in short order—even the bark,” he added.

While the tree branches serve as a tasty snack and handy scratching post for the sheep to rub their heads on, they are also nutritiously beneficial.

According to the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, evergreens are a good source of fiber and magnesium, and pine needles are good for livestock such as goats and sheep. The needles aid in intestinal worm control, have a high vitamin C content, and also provide key nutrients, antioxidants, and forage.

McCoy explained while the animals need a balance of roughage in their diets, the Christmas trees are the only green treats the goats and sheep get until spring.

“They get bored eating hay,” she said, “So this is a nice holiday treat.”

She continued, “It’s not a super exciting life being a sheep, so I guess this is a highlight for them.”

Seth said while the animals’ waste continuously contributes to the farm’s compost and fertilizer, this year the livestock unintentionally planted some pumpkins for them around their yard.

“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” he said.

A Worthy Cause

Christmas trees are also being recycled on other local farms.

Jackson Evans of East Braintree also posted on Front Porch Forum a few days after Christmas asking for people to recycle their Christmas trees by donating them to his 15 Kiko goats at Raven Hill Farm.

“Goats can be picky eaters,” Evans said, “But they sure enjoy a Christmas tree.”

This is the second year the farm has asked for donations, he said. According to Evans, they received a dozen trees last year and so far, six this year.

“When you throw a tree in, all 14 of the does just mob it,” he said, noting how his goats strip the trees completely bare. “The trees end up looking just like skeletons when the goats are done with them.”

Evans said at the end of the season, he likes to have a bonfire with the leftover tree skeletons.

“You can see how much fun the goats have, and they really do enjoy getting Christmas trees as much as we do,” Evans said.

“Plus, it’s nice for people to know their trees aren’t ending up dumped somewhere when they can go to a worthy cause.

“It’s a great way to recycle.”

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