How a used Christmas tree makes a fine gift for a goat

Many people across P.E.I. will be looking for a way to get rid of their Christmas trees after the holidays. One Island goat farm is offering up a solution.

P.E.I. farm owner expects to get more than 150 trees dropped off this year

Goats are happy to munch on discarded Christmas trees. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Many people across P.E.I. will be looking for a way to get rid of their Christmas trees after the holidays and one Island goat farm is offering up a solution.

Island Hill Farm in Hampshire, P.E.I., is inviting Islanders to visit the farm this weekend and asking them to bring their Christmas trees with them.

It is the fifth year for the Christmas tree drop-off at the farm.

Flory Sanderson, the farm's owner, said she's seeing more and more come through her barn each year. She said when she started she received no more than 10 trees, but last year there were 140.

"People are always looking for a place to put their Christmas trees and it's great nutrition for my goats," Sanderson said.

She said she now also receives trees that didn't sell from growers across the Island. Some come from businesses, hotels and venues like the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown once the season is over. 

"It's a great alternative. Then the animals get to be fed and you feel good afterwards, right, because you did something with it. You helped a cause." 

Nutrition for the animals

Sanderson said the trees are used to feed goats, alpacas, sheep and pigs at her farm and provide the animals with extra nutrition over the winter months. She said munching on the trees helps the animals with their digestion.

"It's their natural habitat," said Sanderson. "That's what they would eat anyway, so this is a nice little treat for them.

"It get's a little stale. It gets a little boring through the winter. So we'll drag the trees in and it's just great. They flock to it."

In recent years, Sanderson said she's been given enough trees to use them as insulation in the barn during winter months, lining them along animal pens to block the wind and keep animals warm. 

'It's just more useful this way' 

Sanderson said she sees more and more new faces come to the farm to drop off their trees each season, including people who travel from New Brunswick to donate their tree and to see the animals.

This year, Natalie Clarkin was one of those new faces. She said her family usually leaves the Christmas tree at the end of their driveway to be collected, but this year she heard about the drop-off program and thought it was a much better alternative.

"It's just more useful this way," Clarkin said. "It's something for the animals to eat and it just seems like a good way to recycle it."

Coming to the farm and getting to see the animals enjoy the trees is also a bonus, she added.

Sanderson asks anyone planning to bring a tree to make sure all the ornaments are removed and that it hasn't been treated with any dyes or chemicals.

Island Hill Farm will be open for drop-offs, and to give people a chance to see the animals, Sunday between 1-3 p.m. But Sanderson said the farm will accept trees year-round.

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Brittany Spencer is a multi-platform journalist with CBC P.E.I. Email: