Yes, goats can eat evergreen trees.
A user shared their experience of goats eating evergreen trees and being just fine:
Evergreen trees are plants that stay green all year round. There are hundreds of species of evergreens, including pines, spruces, cedars, and firs.
Some evergreen trees may be toxic to goats, so be sure to ask your vet before you go ahead and let your goats feed on a specific type of evergreen tree.
We can’t possibly talk about all types of evergreen trees here if they’re goat-friendly or not, so it’s best that you get in touch with your vet about this matter.
Evergreen trees are well-adapted to harsh conditions where they live because their leaves don’t fall off in winter or dry up in summer. Evergreen trees have thick waxy leaves that help them retain moisture, which is especially important in regions with cold winters or dry summers.
Evergreen trees are common in North America and eastern Asia, but they are also found elsewhere, including New Zealand.
Are evergreen trees bad for goats?
There are a few evergreen trees that may be toxic to goats, so it’s best not to let your goats eat these types of evergreen trees:
- Mountain cedar – also called eastern red cedar – is a variety of juniper found in eastern North America. The inner bark was used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, but it can be poisonous to livestock, especially horses.
It’s best that you don’t let your goats eat mountain cedar because it may lead to hypoglycemia or weight loss, depression, lack of coordination, and even death.
Spruces are evergreen trees with needle-like leaves that are found in Northern Europe and North America. Spruce needles are poisonous to livestock, including goats.
Eating just one or two spruce needles can cause serious illness in a goat so it’s best not to let your goats eat spruce trees.
Evergreen trees toxic for other types of livestock besides goats include cedars, firs, and yews.
However, there are evergreen trees that are safe for goats to eat.
Some of these safe evergreens include:
- Pines – also called pinus – are the most common type of coniferous tree in North America. They come in different varieties, such as ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine.
Pine needles contain essential oils that neutralize the toxic effects of the evergreen tree. In fact, pine oil is used as a natural insecticide and antibiotic.
Pine needles are safe for goats to eat, but it’s best that you give them only fresh pine needles. Pine needles lose their tenderness when they dry up or wilt in humid weather, so make sure to pick fresh pine needles for your goats.
- Spruce – also spelled as sproos or sprus – are evergreen coniferous trees with needle-like leaves that are found in Northern Europe and North America.
Spruce contains salicylates, which is a substance toxic to livestock but not to ruminants like goats. Salicylates cause respiratory problems in goats if they eat too much.
Spruce needles have a high nutritional value and are safe for goats to eat. Just make sure that you give your goats fresh spruce needles after pruning or cutting the branches.
Pruned branches may contain sharp thorns, which can injure small kids and pregnant does, so it’s best that you wear protective clothing when working with spruce trees.
Red pine is an evergreen coniferous tree with needle-like leaves native to North America.
Red pines are safe for goats to eat, although it’s best not to let them eat too many red pine needles because they contain salicylates that can irritate the respiratory tract.