Manitoba

The goats of Christmas past: Ravenous ruminants make short work of old trees

Aurora Farm says their goats enjoy the holiday treat, which is nutrient-rich and a natural de-wormer.

Manitoba's Aurora Farm says trees make a great snack for goats, and act as a natural de-wormer

Aurora Farm, in Winnipeg's south end, is accepting used Christmas trees as food for their goats. Goats are natural foragers, which means trees provide a nutritious, and interesting, snack for them. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

Not sure what to do with your Christmas tree now the holidays are over?

The 21 goats at Winnipeg's Aurora Farm are happy to eat it for you.

The trees are both a treat, and a natural de-wormer, according to Sophia Partyka, who works at the farm on Waverley Street, at the very south end of the city.

"Goats will eat absolutely anything," and "are actually foragers by nature. They're not grassland animals," she said.

"So by bringing the trees in, it actually brings them back to their natural instincts. It's a Christmas boost for them with nutrients … and they really like it."

Sophia Partyka says goats are foragers, so Christmas trees are a natural food for them to eat. She says visitors get a thrill out of watching them devour their trees. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

Visitors can drop their trees off every Saturday and Sunday, when the farm — which makes and sells goat-milk products— is open to the public.

As an added bonus, you're welcome to stick around and watch the goats chow down on your holiday rejects.

Carla Williams, Darrin Thiessen and their seven-year-old son, Jacob Thiessen, have been bringing their trees to the farm for years.

"The goats love it too much. It's apparently really good for their digestive system. And the byproduct is fertilizer," said Darrin.

Visitors who bring their Christmas trees to the farm can watch the goats chow down. Darrin Thiessen, Carla Williams, and their son, Jacob Thiessen, have been bringing their old trees to Aurora Farm for several years now. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

Most people enjoy the opportunity to watch their old tree get turned into goat food instead of garbage.

"I think a lot of people appreciate bringing them in and seeing the goats get excited about that little snack," Partyka​ said.

"It's something nicer than just throwing [your tree] out and seeing them end up in the landfill."

Aurora Farm in Winnipeg's south end is accepting used Christmas trees as food for their goats. Goats are natural foragers, which means trees provide a nutritious, and interesting, snack for them. (Lyza Sale/CBC)

And if you're concerned about the tough, sharp tree needles doing any harm to the goats, you can put your mind at ease, says Partyka — the animals are designed to eat them.

"People think the pine needles would hurt their gums or the teeth," she said. "But then they see the goats running over and take a bite."

Other animals like sheep, chickens and alpacas will also eat Christmas trees, Partyka said.

"This morning we threw one in for the alpacas, but they were not so into it. The goats are the most enthusiastic."

Hungry goats at Aurora Farm devour Christmas trees. 2:10

About the Author

Marina von Stackelberg is a CBC journalist based in Winnipeg. She previously worked for CBC in Halifax and Sudbury. Connect with her @CBCMarina or marina.von.stackelberg@cbc.ca

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