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How to Feed Pine Needles to Goats

By Carol Sarao | Updated September 26, 2017

goat. pygmy goat image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com

Items you will need

  • Hacksaw or pruning shears

  • Pine branches or pine needles

  • Heavy gloves (optional)

Goats can make lively, fascinating pets. Although some people think of goats as "lawnmowers with legs" that keep a lawn clipped short, in reality goats are better at clearing land of small trees and brush. As natural "browsers," goats' feeding habits are closer to those of wild deer than of cattle and sheep, which are "grazers." Pine needles are a healthy treat for goats and, in fact, may be beneficial snacks for them.

Use a hacksaw or pruning shears to remove shoots and branches from pine trees, cutting them off smoothly at the point where they join a larger branch or tree trunk. Not only does this protect the goats from sharp edges, it is healthier for the pine trees as well. Never break branches off by hand; this can cause wounds to the pine tree that allow disease and insects to enter. You can feed branches from most types of pine tree to your goats, including white pine and Ponderosa pine. However, never feed your goats yew branches; the yew plant is toxic to goats.

Scatter the branches generously around the goats' grazing area. The goats will enjoy finding them and snacking on them, and may benefit from the added exercise.

Strip pine needles from the branches and offer them by hand to smaller goats or to goats you think may get pushed aside in a snacking free-for-all. Most goats love pine needles and will climb over each other to get them. You may want to wear gloves to avoid getting pine sap on your hands.

Photo Credits

Author

Carol Sarao is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic City Weekly, The Women's Newspaper of Princeton, and New Millennium Writings. She has interviewed and reviewed many national recording acts, among them Everclear, Live, and Alice Cooper, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Warren Wilson College.