Poisons on Christmas Trees

By Terry Golson


I used to recommend giving animals Christmas trees. The goats loved to use them as head scratchers and they nibbled on the bark. My rabbit used hers as a hideaway and chewed patterns into it. The chickens appreciated the windbreak.

But last year I heard from a friend. Elizabeth had taken my backyard chicken keeping workshop at my home, had fallen in love with my goats, and got some of her own. (I have a website about hens and goats. If you like my writing, I’ve got ten years worth of blogs here.) After New Years, Elizabeth put her ornaments away and put her Christmas tree in their pen.

The goats almost died.

It was a natural tree. No tags or warnings on it. However, with much sleuthing, Elizabeth discovered that the growers had painted it with numerous toxic chemicals.

I don’t know what this means for the communities who collect trees and compost them, or the oceanfront towns who use them to shore up their dunes. I do know that unless you grow your own, don’t give your animals used Christmas trees.

Elizabeth is getting the word out. She was on the local news. Please share this.

(In the video, note how polite her goats are. Elizabeth consulted with me on goat training!)


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6 thoughts on “Poisons on Christmas Trees

  • Jan

    So relieved the Goats are okay, it is so easy to give your pets something you think should be safe but they seem to use chemicals on anything these days. I only have you and my daughter on facebook as I do not like it, but I will tell all my family and friends and get them to get the message out. 🙂

  • Sandra Poppema

    Thank you for sharing! This is important information.

    I always learned that you need to be very careful with “evergreen” (wintergreen) trees and shrubs. They tend to be poisonous. I don’t feed Christmas trees anymore because of choking hazard of the needles (a friend/vet told me). And what you say as well: you don’t know if the trees are sprayed with pesticides or to make them “fire proof”

    • Terry Golson Post author

      We have white pine around here, and it’s a nice bit of enrichment for the goats – but I have to be very careful not to let it get mixed up with other things. Did you know that the wilted (not dried) leaves of stone fruit trees are poisonous to goats? My peach tree could be lethal, as too the wild sour cherries. One goat almost died from eating a few rhododendron leaves! But letting them browse on brush and thorny things is very good for them. The world is dangerous enough not to add toxic chemicals to trees. Sigh…