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Foot Injuries in Chickens -Methods That Help Heal

foot injuries in chickens

Properly treating foot injuries in chickens is very important. Cleaning wounds and a bumble foot treatment plan should be started promptly. The chicken may not eat or drink enough if it has a foot injury. This will weaken the bird and could lead to infection and death

A good habit to get into is looking at each one of your animals every day. Learning on the homestead never stops. Every day there is a new issue to resolve or roadblock to scale. Knowing all of your animals, and what is normal behavior for each one, is important and can make a difference in their health or even survival. Keeping a good first aid kit helps you start a bumble foot treatment or clean an injury promptly.

foot injuries in chickens
Chickens are always on the move and need healthy, pain free feet to take them places.

Weird things can happen on a farm, especially when you throw animals into the mix. You may think your fences are pig tight, horse high, and bull strong, you may think that you have built the most secure pen or made the enclosed area extremely safe, but there is always that animal who manages to thwart your best efforts at keeping them safe and secure.

foot injuries in chickens

Most of the animal keepers I know just seem to have a sense of when things just aren’t right. For me, without even consciously thinking about it, I take a head count so to speak. I know my animals habits, behaviors, who hangs out with who, that sort of thing. And here is another example of why this is an important habit to get into.

Finding Foot Injuries in Chickens 

foot injuries in chickens

One evening, I noticed that Mr.Tweet was not walking normally. I went to pick him up and instead of trying to run away he just waited for me to lift him up. Animals know when they need help. This is what I found.

foot injuries in chickens

At first glance I was not sure if it was a wire or thread, but it turned out to be a long shredded piece of plastic from one of the shade covers over the run. It had probably only been on Mr.Tweet’s feet for that day. He had been acting normally the night before and had no signs of being picked on by the flock. But, in that short time, he had managed to wrap the thread of plastic very tightly around his feet and individual toes. This was going to take a few minutes to untangle.

Mr. Tweet and I left the coop area to get some help and to find some scissors.

Not As Bad As Expected

We soon had Mr. Tweet’s feet free from the tangled mess. The plastic had tightened so much in some areas that it was hard to get the scissors in to make a cut.

There was some mild swelling on some parts of his feet but nothing serious. I sprayed his feet with Vetrycin Wound Spray just to be safe. Having a good general purpose antiseptic spray on hand is the first step in treating foot injuries in chickens, or any wound for that matter. I am keeping a closer eye on his feet for now to make sure an abscess is not forming from the tight bands of plastic. I had a feeling he was a little hungry and thirsty since he was not able to run around freely as usual. So I gave him some time with just a few of the hens and some fresh food and water to enjoy without any of the alpha personalities being present.

Soon, he was enjoying the freedom of movement and was acting normally. He seemed ready to head in for the night so we put everyone to bed. In the morning, there were no further issues from the foot entanglement. We are keeping a close eye on his feet to make sure any small cut we may have missed, does not become infected.

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Other Foot Injuries in Chickens 

Bumble foot

Bumble foot is a staph infection of the foot. One of the first signs of this will be the chicken not willing to put it’s foot down or put pressure on the foot while walking. It may walk around a lot less or be hopping around on one leg. Mine often become depressed and just sit in one spot, in the cases I have had to treat. Bumble foot treatment is a specialized treatment plan and requires a good antiseptic wash, and antibiotic cream and lots of gauze and vet wrap to keep it clean.

Educate First

I suggest you find a few videos or articles on Bumble foot treatment before starting treatment. I have described our treatment plan in this article. Everyone has a slightly different method of removing the infection. The end result should be a removal of the abscess causing the pain, and a well healed chicken foot.

bumble foot treatment
a picture of a bumble foot abscess that is doing well healing.

(it’s hard to get a good picture of a bumble foot treatment when you are also holding the chicken!)

Splay Leg in Chicks

Splay leg or spraddle leg in chicks can often be repaired. There are a lot of videos on the internet with directions to make splints, and bandages to secure the legs while the hip joints grow. I liked this out of the box idea from The 104 Homestead using a drinking glass.

Another hatching issue causing foot injuries in chickens is crooked or bent toes at hatching. Forming a small support from a pipe cleaner and securing it to the chick’s foot is often suggested. Both Splay Leg and crooked toes can often be fixed and the chick will grow normally.

Scaly Leg Mites

The tiny mite, Cnemidocoptes Mutans, is the cause behind scaly leg mite. You will first notice that the scales on your birds feet look raised. This escalates until the foot and leg are covered in raised scales and white dusty patches. The mite harbors in the damp chicken litter or bedding and burrows into the wood of the roost bars, waiting for a nice soft chicken foot to happen by.

scaly leg mite

Treatment involves soaking the feet and legs, loosening the scales with a soft brush, and coating the legs and feet in coconut oil or olive oil a few times a week for four weeks. Dust bathes with added wood ash help eliminate scaley leg mites too. You can read more about treating scaly leg mites in this post.

Overgrown Spurs

Now, you might wonder how I could possibly miss this issue. Aren’t spurs fairly visible? Most times the answer is yes, the intimidating spurs are very apparent. However, some of our Brahma and Cochin roosters have had heavily feathered bodies and legs. The spurs have grown undetected until they are interfering with natural walking for the bird.

When spurs need to be trimmed, grab some garden pruners or hoof trimmer shears. Work slowly taking off small increments of the spur at a time. The closer you get to the leg, the closer you also are to the quick. If you cut the quick, bleeding will occur. It is always good to have a blood stop powder ready. See more on that in the next section.

With light colored chicken legs, the “live” portion of the spur is easier to see. I take small portions off at time, so that the spur no longer hampers walking. If additional trims are needed, repeat in a few days.

Broken Toes and Toenail Injuries

Broken toes may need to be splinted. A pipe cleaner, vet wrap and electric tape may be all you need in this case. Watch for pieces of exposed chicken wire where your chicken may get it’s toe trapped and need to struggle to be free. Also, if your chickens are very friendly and used to being underfoot while you feed and clean, you could accidentally step on a foot and break a bone.

healthy chicken foot and leg
healthy chicken foot and leg

Cuts and other open wounds can potentially lead to serious infections. Clean the wound with sterile saline, apply a wound dressing and antibiotic ointment. Keep a close eye on it. If it is getting worse instead of better, then a Veterinarian may need to be called for a stronger antibiotic. Keeping the wound clean and dry will go a long way towards not having to call the vet.

Broken toenails and spurs also can lead to limping and further infection. And bleeding can invite pecking at the wound from the flock, since chickens are attracted to the red blood. We use cornstarch to stop bleeding but there are commercial products such as Wonderdust available also. Once the bleeding has stopped, treat the wound as mentioned above. You may need to isolate the injured bird if the injury is more severe and the bleeding recurs.

foot injuries in chickens

Steps You Can Take When Discovering Foot Injuries in Chickens

  • Prepare the materials and first aid products before you catch the chicken. Removing the chicken from the flock causes stress. Reduce the amount of time you will be working on the bird by being prepared.
  • Have a first aid kit ready!
  • Know your individual flock members. You don’t have to pick up each chicken every day to observe for odd behavior that may be the result of a foot injuries in chickens scenario.
  • Stay calm. Your stress and panic will transfer to your chicken. If others around you are not able to stay calm and quiet, move to a more secluded location.
  • Isolate any cases of foot injuries in chickens if the bird is being bullied, picked on or not able to get to food and water.
  • Clean dressings and wounds daily. Wear disposable gloves to protect yourself as some infections are transmissible to humans.
  • Keep products on hand that help with your bumble foot treatment plan

For more information on preparing a first aid kit for your farm check out this post.




How to Build a Garden Box and What to Grow in it.

How to Build a Garden Box

Are you ready to build a garden box and add a new dimension to your food growing plan. Often, a raised garden bed is just what is needed to change your not so great garden harvest into a bountiful return.

Raised bed gardens are beneficial on many levels. Not only are they compact and convenient, they look nice too. It’s easier on your back since you don’t have to bend over as far. You can even build a garden box up higher to accommodate any physical requirements you may have. Keep in mind that the higher you raise the garden, the more lumber you will need. Some folks build a garden bed at table height on sturdy legs. The bed is a deep tray filled with soil for the plants. Or, you can build a simple 12 inch deep box like we did.

Why Build a Garden Box?

  • You can build a garden box that fits your needs and size requirement.
  • Garden boxes have less problems with weeds.
  • Slugs and grub damage is less in a raised garden bed.
  • If you build a garden box, the drainage will be better than an in ground garden.
  • Nutrients don’t wash away as readily when you build a garden box.
  • The warmer soil in a raised garden means you can plant earlier.
  • Raised gardens are easier to physically manage as you age or develop any special physical requirements.
  • Depending on height, a raised garden bed might offer the plants some protection from dogs.
  • A raised garden bed can be an aesthetically beautiful part of your landscape.

Before You Build a Garden Box

Our plan is simple. We constructed four boxes that were 12 inches deep. Two were 8 foot long by 4 foot wide. The smaller boxes were 4 foot long by 2 foot wide. I will get to the specific instructions in just a bit. First, I want to tell you that our raised bed gardens gave us the best harvest that we have had in years. This point alone leads me to recommend that you build a garden box this year.

We started with clearing the area of sticks and debris. Leaves were left as additional organic matter. After the boxes were put in place we added new soil. Our original garden dirt was not very rich. To increase the possibility of success, I decided to go with all new growing soil.

Watch the Video

Video in collaboration with Homesteaders of America “Grow Your Own Food” Series.

The Soil for the Raised Bed Garden

The recommendation I went with was 60 % topsoil, 30 % organic matter/compost and 10 % peat moss. We did use our own compost from the farm along with a purchased leaf compost.

Soil in a garden box won’t compact as much as the in ground garden so you will need to tamp it down a little bit and add more until the level is at least 10 inches of dirt. You do want the soil to be loosely compacted for optimal drainage.

Should You Add Rocks or Garden Fabric Before the Dirt?

I have seen the suggestion to line the box with garden fabric to prevent weeds. I did not do this because one of the great reasons for using a raised bed garden is that it reduces the weeds in your garden. The rocks in the bottom of the box are suggested for drainage but again, our soil mixture was loose and well draining. These are good trouble shooting suggestions should you have problems with weeds or drainage when you build a garden box.

Sheets of cardboard placed in the bottom of the box can help slow weeds from entering your raised bed, too.

How to Build a Garden Box for Your Yard

Large Garden Box

  • 6 boards 2″ x 6″ – 8′ (cut 2 boards in half for the 4 end pieces.)
  • 4 scraps of 2 x 4 x 12″ lumber for the corner braces.
  • 2 scraps of 2 x 4 18″ lumber or the side braces outside the frame.
  • 3″ wood screws and drill driver.

Small Garden Box

  • 6 boards 2″x 6″ – 4 ft (cut two of the boards in half for the end pieces)
  • 4 scraps for corner braces as described above.
  • 2 scraps for outside braces as described above.

*Note- our lumber is rough cut size. It may appear different than a 2×6 that you purchase from a home improvement store.

Build a garden box
These are two of the small size garden boxes.

Assemble the Garden Box.

For the first layer, stand one 8 ft board on edge. Stand one of the 4 ft boards perpendicular and place a corner brace piece in the corner. Screw the boards into the corner brace. Repeat for the other three corners.

Repeat the above for the second layer, making the box 12 inches deep.

Place the garden box on the selected spot. Before adding the soil, insert the two outside braces into the ground on the long sides. This will help the long sides from bowing out from the pressure of the soil.

raised bed garden

Factors To Consider When Using a Raised Bed Garden

  • Look at the shade cover from trees. Most vegetables need full to part sun.
  • Be careful not to overcrowd the plants. Leave plenty of room for growth. Use a garden rotation instead of overcrowding the garden.
  • Raised garden beds work well with vertical gardening systems and trellises.
  • Raised garden beds often have a higher soil temperature.

What to Consider When You Build a Garden Box

When you build a garden box for your vegetable growing, remember that the higher soil temperature means that your garden may need more water. Although weeds will appear at a lower rate, they will still find their way. Keep on top of the weed removal so the soil nutrients are available for your plants.

raised bed garden

What Can You Plant in a Raised Garden Bed?

After you build a garden box, the fun begins. Choosing seeds and garden starts to plant takes some planning. The first topic to consider is what does your family like to eat. There is no point in taking up valuable garden space with food you won’t enjoy.

Carrots, radishes, lettuce and other greens, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are the first choices for me and my garden boxes. We also love squash and watermelon but they require a large space or you can train them to trail outside of the garden box. A trellis, arch or other vertical aid can help you grow more veggies in a limited space. Green beans are easy to grow up a garden trellis.

Tomatoes growing in a garden box

Grow in the off Season when You Build a Garden Box

When we really started to garden exclusively in raised garden beds, we were able to extend our growing season. After the heat of the summer, our beds are turned over to growing garlic, greens and radishes for the fall and winter. A simple row cover or cold frame can be added to your box when the winter weather gets too cold.

Build a raised bed garden

Enjoy your raised gardens. I hope you have as much fun and success with them as I have experienced.




Why Keep the Rooster with Your Flock?

Why would you keep the rooster? The general feeling from most chicken keepers seems to be just the opposite. Rightly so in the case of neighborhood rules, or possibly having small children around. But in many cases, if you keep the rooster, your flock will benefit from a good leader.

When you picked up your chicks this year, the little fluffy balls of fun were so cute! No doubt one was your favorite. Now that the chicks are reaching 10 to 12 weeks of age, you have begun to notice something a little different about your favorite chick. It may be slightly bigger, stand a little taller, have bigger feet and it may be growing a slightly more noticeable comb or wattles. You may have a rooster! But will you keep the rooster?

Sexing Chicks is Rarely 100% Correct

Before you get upset and jump to possibilities and options, lets explore some reasons why you might want to keep the rooster. If you can legally keep the rooster in your neighborhood or town, there are some good reasons to have one around. You may have heard that a rooster is mean, ornery, and dangerous. These reasons can be true but they are not always the case. (Read more about Cranky Roosters in this post.)  I am not advocating keeping an overly aggressive rooster.

I find the roosters are a great addition to our flock. We currently have fourteen roosters. Before you make a move to have my sanity checked, let me tell you that we generally do keep quite a few roosters. They work hard every day, keeping the hens safe. Let me explain a few reasons that I am glad we keep the rooster.

The Rooster as a Peacekeeper

Peacekeeper – The rooster in a flock is in charge. He will assume this role and do what he has to do to maintain his position. Other roosters may be able to be part of the flock, too, as long as they don’t challenge him. In addition, the rooster will keep the hens from squabbling among themselves. In the absence of a rooster, a hen will often take the role of flock leader.

keep the rooster

Keep the Rooster for Flock Protection

Protection – Roosters are on alert most of the day, watching for predators, alerting the hens, and making sure they take cover. While the hens are dust bathing or eating, the rooster will stand guard and stay alert to possible danger. When a hawk or some other predator is spotted, the rooster will sound the alarm. He is calling the hens back to safety. If they free range, this might be a bush to hide under, or the nearby coop. In our case, with multiple roosters, the alarm is picked up and the other roosters begin to gather their hens too. It’s quite amazing to witness.

The Rooster will Provide

Providing – The rooster will search out tasty food bits and call the hens over to enjoy the snack. He makes sure that his hens get started eating first in the morning and then he begins to eat too. In addition, roosters provide the necessary actions for having fertile eggs, in case you want to hatch out eggs in an incubator or let a broody hen set on a clutch of eggs.

Keep the Rooster

The Crowing?

Crowing–  Now I am sure you are wondering how I can put a positive light on this noisy ear splitting wake up call. First, roosters don’t necessarily start crowing before  dawn. Ours will often stay quiet until they hear me in the feed shed, dishing up breakfast. Roosters crow to warn other roosters to stay away. They also crow to celebrate, such as when breakfast arrives, after mating, or to show pecking order. In addition, they will crow to let the hens know the location of the flock, when it’s time to head back to the coop at night and various other reasons. But the best reason, for flock security, would be the crowing to warn of an approaching visitor.

keep the rooster

While you may decide to re -home your cockerel and just keep the pullets, I am very glad I kept one particular oops rooster. Even though I ordered all pullets, we received a rooster in the bunch. He is a white rock cockerel who we named King. For years, King was the star of our poultry area. He may have jumped at me once or twice in his younger, impulsive days. I quickly put a stop to that and he grew into a wonderful protector.

I see benefits and uses when you keep the rooster. Let me know how your surprise roosters turn out.




How to Avoid a Chicken Coop Fire

We are heading into the prime season for a chicken coop fire. Cool weather leading into actual cold weather begins and soft hearted chicken keepers try to keep the coop warm. There are methods to keeping the coop comfortable for chickens and still avoid causing a chicken coop fire. The same prevention strategies will also help avoid barn fires.

Understanding the Chicken and Cold Weather

We might be tempted to view chickens as fragile, helpless birds that need us to dress them and supply a heater in the coop. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are some less cold hardy breeds of chickens that may need special care, the majority of chicken breeds can withstand even subzero temperatures in fine shape. Here’s a great article written by a chicken keeper in a very cold area of the country.

What You Can Do

There are things you can do to lesson the risk of a chicken coop fire.

light bulb and cord covered in heavy layer of dust. This is a chicken coop fire hazard.

If you reside in an area with lengthy sub zero winter temperatures, look for the full size, hardy breeds such as Orpingtons, Brahmas, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, Sussex, Delawares, and Buckeyes, to name a few. These breeds and others will feather out heavily after the fall molt. The down feathers under the flight feathers will grow in thick and fluffy. The down layer insulates by expanding, creating a layer of warm air close to the chicken’s body.

Chicken coop fire title image for pinterest

Roosting bars, positioned so that the chicken can cover it’s feet while roosting, helps prevent frosty toes and frost bite. The roost bar should be big enough for all to claim a space. You will notice on cold nights the chickens will perch closer together to share body warmth. They know instinctively what to do to survive cold weather.

Provide a coop that is well ventilated but draft free is the best coop structure.

roof line vent in chicken coop blocks good air flow of damp air. Chickens will be colder in a damp coop.

In short, providing the correct environment for your chickens will help you avoid using additional heat and prevent chicken coop fire.

Cleaning the Coop to Avoid a Chicken Coop Fire

Cleaning the coop with fire prevention in mind includes more than cleaning out the floor and nest boxes. Other areas will have formed cob webs or dust bunnies, and often these hang down from the ceiling, adding to the risk of a chicken coop fire. If the dust bunnies sit too long on a hot light bulb or heat bulb, they can cause sparks and lead to a chicken coop fire.

chicken coop fire

Barn and Chicken Coop Fire Safety

Here are some tips to help you increase your farm fire safety awareness.

  • Using power strips, or surge protector blocks can actually increase your fire risk. Drawing too much power can overload the wires and cause a fire.
  • Choose heavy duty extension cords if you have to run electricity to the coop or barn. I get it. We don’t have our barn and coops wired for electric. I know it’s a risk and we check the cords for heat, frequently. When using extension cords, choose the heavy duty outdoor rated cords. Going for the bargain cords in this scenario is adding barn and chicken coop fire risk to your homestead and your animals lives. Don’t skimp on this.
  • Clean the dust from ceilings, light fixtures, bulbs, cords, outlets. Just clean the dust, ok? Seriously though, chickens cause dust. I don’t know how but they do. We don’t even brood chicks in the house any more because of how much dust they create. Big chickens equal more dust. Those dust strands on the ceiling are a fire risk if you have light bulbs, cords, and heat lamps. Grab the broom and sweep the ceiling and walls. Dust any light bulbs. All of this goes a long way to reducing the risk of chicken coop fire.
  • Heat lamps are dangerous. I know, I hear you sighing. You’ve probably heard it all before and think that your system is safe. At best, you might lower the risk of fire. Using a heat lamp in an outdoor chicken coop is the number one cause of a chicken coop fires. Yes the alternatives cost more money. But, it’s my homestead at risk and my animal’s lives. There are safer alternatives for keeping chicks warm. Ninety Nine percent of the time, chickens in an enclosed coop do not need additional heat provided. If you’re cold, put on a sweatshirt. Your chickens are most likely fine if they are healthy and have a draft free coop to shelter in. Check these alternatives to heat for chicks.

Where do you store your animal hay?

  • Hay storage is another potential barn and chicken coop fire disaster. Any moisture left in hay, can cause spontaneous combustion as the hay sits. Wet hay causes heat to build as it ages. Store your hay away from the barn and monitor the temperature. Break open any hot bales. In addition to being a fire risk, hot hay bales can cause mold to grow. (Don’t feed moldy hay to your horses, goats, or sheep.
  • On the same topic, hay does not make a good winter bedding for your chickens. The moisture content of hay is higher than straw and can result in a damp coop. Dampness can lead to frost bite and respiratory problems.

Predators and disease aren’t the only causes of death for chickens. Unfortunately, a chicken coop fire can wipe out your flock, and possibly spread to your family home. Take the precautions now while getting ready for cold weather. Let’s have a safe winter!




Can Goats Eat Christmas Trees?

can goats eat Christmas trees

Can goats eat Christmas trees? This is a popular question during the later part of December. Many of us will have spent hard earned dollars, purchasing a fresh cut tree from a local tree lot. After the tinsel and ornaments have been removed, using the tree as a food option in the barnyard can add value to the money spent on a fresh cut tree. So can goats eat Christmas trees? What about sheep, cattle, and even the chickens? The genus Pine contains a lot of plants, some not even true pines. Yew is not in the genus of Pinus, (its actually a member of the Taxus genus). Yew is often confused with pine but can cause toxicity and illness  in most animals.

Many of the popular varieties selected as Christmas trees can be used as a food supplement in limited quantities. The White pine, and Scotch pine are common along with the Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir and the Blue Spruce. With any edible, I never recommend over feeding. Illness can result just from the upset in the diet routine. Stick with the old adage of everything in moderation.

can goats eat christmas trees
photo credit Glen Miller

Can Goats Eat Christmas Trees and Receive Health Benefits?

Pine needles provide trace nutrients, antioxidants, minerals, and forage. Trees should not replace the normal forage, grain or other feed material. Pine is good for intestinal worm control and high vitamin C content. Some varieties contain higher amounts of Vitamin A, too. In addition, the activity of chowing down on a tasty novelty, interrupts the boring days of winter and eating only hay.
 
Not only can goats eat Christmas trees, but the chickens will enjoy either nibbling or playing with the pine needles and branches. The entire Christmas tree can provide a wind break in the chicken run, and an activity center for bored chickens. If you live in an area that doesn’t get very cold, the chickens will find insects among the tree branches too. 

What Problems Can Arise?

Pine needles can cause abortion in cattle, if eaten in varying quantities. Although cattle and sheep and goats are all ruminants, the absorption mechanisms in cattle seems to have more of a problem with pine. Problems seem to be documented with certain plants in the pine genus. Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine, and Monteray Pine have documented incidents of causing premature birth and abortions in cattle. The Yew is another member of this group that can be extremely toxic. Horses and ponies can colic from too much pine. 

can goats eat Christmas trees

What Amount of Pine is Safe?

Can goats eat Christmas trees if toxicity is a potential issue? one tree per small flock of ten to twelve animals isn’t enough to cause toxicity issues. Goats eating nothing but pine bark, branch tips, and needles, every day can lead to toxicity and abortion, along with other health risks. Cattle seem to be more susceptible to pine toxicity. What I have found concerning toxic plants is this. In truth, it’s like so many toxic plants on lists. They’d get full before they ever had any toxicity issues. Or they’d have to eat it for a long time period. If the toxic plant is the only choice, the ruminant or chicken will eat it. If there is plenty of other nutritious food available, the animal will not normally choose to eat the toxic plant. In short, a small amount of pine Christmas tree will add nutrients and not cause harm to your flock.

pine boughs
photo credit Glen Miller

 Can Goats Eat Christmas Trees from Sale Lots?

What about the toxicity of man-made products applied to Christmas trees. This is a topic that always comes up when talking about feeding fresh cut trees to livestock and poultry. Some large retailers still apply a fire retardant spray or a colorant to the trees. Ask your seller about this. This article shares that the fire retardant spray is a green color that can be seen on the trunk and some of the branches. The tree may appear to be a brighter green than you would expect. In any case, ask questions and inspect the tree carefully if you are planning to feed the tree to your farm animals.

pygora goat

 We try to avoid chemicals of most types when caring for our farm animals. I was surprised to read that this Virginia Cooperative Extension report suggests that the colorants and sprays are no more harmful than household chemicals! I sure wouldn’t feed my goats any of those household chemical cleaners either!
 
Check with your seller before assuming that a tree is all natural. If you buy your tree from a small independent lot, they should know where the trees came from and how they were prepared for sale. If you cannot be certain, don’t feed the tree to the goats, sheep and chickens.

Common Pine Varieties Used as Christmas Trees

White pine, scotch pine, Fraser fir, and other varieties commonly found on the tree lot can provide nutrients to your goat, sheep and chicken diets. Some varieties may be more desirable than others. Sheep tend to dislike the scotch pine needles due to the more prickly nature. Goats are not usually as tender in the mouth and may not discriminate as much as the sheep.  

After feeding the tree to the barnyard animals, the trunk and branches can be recycled further into wood chips. The wood chips can be added to the garden area, or the poultry run to cover muddy areas. Goats, Sheep and even the chickens, can help you recycle the Christmas tree and keep it from ending up in the landfill. There are healthy nutrients in the tree and feeding it to your barnyard animals is safe in occasional small doses. Pine needles are healthy for humans too. Try a pine needle tea for what ails you with a winter cold. For more ideas on recycling the fresh Christmas tree, look here.

For more goat care info including information on goats and Christmas trees, check with Feather and Scale Farm. If you don’t own your own goats or chickens, check with local farmers to see if they can put your Christmas tree to use on their farm. This Maine radio station even connected local residents to a goat farm!

can goats eat Christmas trees