Goats help to recycle Christmas trees and keep them out of landfills

December 30, 2014 0 By Tami Hood
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New recycling program in Nevada helps manage Christmas tree waste.

It is the time of year when those who celebrated Christmas and decorated real Christmas trees will soon be disposing of them and, in some parts of the U.S., different programs have been established to help recycle these trees to prevent them from being tossed into landfills, such as Vince Thomas’ recycling program in Nevada, which uses goats to help manage the waste.

Trees dumped in the desert can be a serious fire hazard.

Vince Thomas is a volunteer firefighter with Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, located in Washoe County. According to USA Today, Thomas said that he’s seen Christmas trees littered everywhere and that it was amazing to him to see the number of trees people dispose of in the desert.

The communications manager for Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, J Merriman, said that “A lot of people dump [Christmas trees] out on the desert and that’s really a problem because people think it’s a natural thing and it will decompose.” She added that the problem is that because it’s the desert, the trees do not decompose, they “just get drier and drier and it really becomes a serious fire hazard.”

Approximately 40 goats will be used to recycle trees.

Recycle - Christmas TreeGoat Grazers, Thomas’ family-owned goat herding business, has partnered with Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District to bring the recycling program to life. The way it will work is the leftover trees will be taken to the Truckee Meadows fire station where about 40 goats will dine on the pine needles, leaving only the trees’ wood carcasses behind.

Even though it is not typical for goats to eat pine needles, Thomas said that he conducted plenty of research and discovered that pine needles do not harm the animals. Unlike other livestock, such as cattle, where pine needles can lead to miscarriages, for goats, this source of green food is high in vitamin C and is a natural dewormer. “It’s healthy for them,” he said.

The remaining wood from the recycled trees can be used for firewood, chipping, and creating mulch. The goat-friendly Christmas tree recycling program began last Friday.