Who would have thought goats could come to the rescue by recycling Christmas trees when we’re all done with them and don’t want them anymore?
Well, most trees get tossed into a landfill or some other place where they dry out and can create a fire hazard, especially in dry areas like Reno, Nevada. Vince Thomas, a 26-year volunteer firefighter who has a family-owned goat herding business, does not want to see that happen, according to the Reno-Gazette Journal.
Thomas had the idea of collecting unwanted Christmas trees and letting his goats graze away on the trees. While other animals cannot graze on Christmas tree pine needles for health reasons, goats can safely digest them and even benefit from eating them.
“I did a lot of research on that, and it’s OK for the goats,” Thomas said. “With cattle and some of the other animals, it can cause miscarriages. But for goats, it’s a natural dewormer, and pine is very high in vitamin C, so it’s healthy for them.”
Thomas explained how the goats begin and end the process of recycling the trees.
“They’ll eat the pine needles and leave the skeleton of the tree. It basically looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas with a scrawny tree that has nothing but the branches.”
According to Thomas, people mistakenly believe their unwanted Christmas trees will decompose out in the wilderness where they dump them. But in the areas around Reno, the desert just dries the trees out. The trees then become a giant fire hazard, according to the Associated Press.
Once the needles from the trees are gone, the rest can be recycled into mulch. J. Merriman works for a group which has been recycling trees into mulch for 24 years, and understands how quickly dried-out trees can create a disaster in the desert.
“A lot of people dump it out on the desert and that’s really a problem because people think it’s a natural thing and it will decompose. But because we’re out in the desert, they don’t decompose, it will just get drier and drier and it really becomes a serious fire hazard.”
Thankfully, the Thomas family “Goat Grazers” can tackle the job and reduce the likelihood of such fires. The 40 goats will quickly work to munch on the pine needles and not even realize they are working while chomping away, according to Thomas.
“And the goats are great employees, they love their job and they don’t complain,” Thomas said.
Goats recycling Christmas trees may not be as fun as watching goat screaming videos, but it is definitely something to consider the next time you think about getting rid of your Christmas tree.