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Old 07/15/08, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Missouri
Posts: 114
Allow goats to eat pine needles, boughs, etc?

I'm very new at raising goats. I got them to clean up weeds, and have a host of weeds growing in my windbreak - but the limbs of the white pine and other pine (evergreen) trees hang so low, that they eat those needles - is this a practice to allow? I have not turned them in there yet, but plan to put up an electric fence to keep them under the trees - great place to eat and be in shade at the same time. Please advise; I know goats eat anything, but how much pine needles can they handle? What they've reached from where they are, the tree is bare.

thanks !
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Old 07/15/08, 08:13 PM
AnnaS's Avatar  
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Verndale MN
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Some pine needles/sticks/bark won't hurt them at all. My goats relish all pines. Pine does contain phenol and some other slightly toxic components, so obviously you wouldn't want to make pine their entire roughage ration.

Goats will also peel off pine bark and kill the tree. I have a mix of dead, debarked jackpines and chicken-wire-wrapped live white pines in my windbreak.
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Old 07/15/08, 08:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Thankfully, goats DO eat pine and Cedar trees. They grow like weeds here. SOMETHING needs to kill them.....

I have photos of mine resting IN the trees about 2 feet off the ground. They have "cleaned up" several of the cedars I have in the barn yard.
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Old 07/15/08, 08:40 PM
QoTL's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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My goats love pine needles. Kinda like candy lol! We only have 2 evergreens on our property, so they don't get to touch them, but my dad is always clearing brush at his place, so I haul those back with me.
Silence is not Agreement
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Old 07/15/08, 09:04 PM
Alice In TX/MO's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2002
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Goats can be picky sometimes, too.

Allow only a moderate amount of anything new. For example, don't change them 100% from hay to pine needles all at once. Making a change gradually can prevent digestive distress.
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"No great thing is created suddenly." ~Epictitus
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Old 07/15/08, 10:56 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 146
Fresh pine needles have vitamin C which is great but the ingestion of them in goats that are pregnant has been linked to miscarriage. So around here, they are given a fresh treat but not for any of the does carrying.
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Old 07/16/08, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Missouri
Posts: 114
I have so many weeds in the windbreak, so they'll deffinitely have plenty of variety - but they will get their usual ration of hay in the morning like I always give them - if I don't one little one (these are all my young goats from this past winter)will remind me "something is missing" - she is a real cutie! So thanks everyone for your input - I greatly appreciate this as I sure don't want to lose them because of my ignorance - rest assured, I treat them like they were my kids - each has a name and each gets prime time petting each feeding.... only one does not like to be petted, but he will be a market goat anyway - I want my young nannys to be tame.
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Old 07/16/08, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: mississippi
Posts: 36
there are trees in the south called chinaberries (a junk tree)which have small white berries goats love. however, the berries cause constipation in goats. my goats have learned that eating the berries cause pain so they don't eat them any more. smart goats! tanya
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Old 07/16/08, 06:01 PM
BlueHeronFarm's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Texas
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Yew - which is an evergeen - is very toxic to goats. I would try to ID what you have before feeding.

Our goats love when we give them a trimmed branch off of our big cedar tree. Just cut some today...lucky girls.
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Old 07/17/08, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: northcentral MN
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My goats love nasty old pitchy jackpines but only in the fall and winter. They'll eat the other pines and some cedar but prefer the jacks. They turn their noses up at all of them now in summer.
"Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?" Hobbs
"I'm not sure that man needs the help." Calvin
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Old 07/17/08, 09:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Troy, Vermont
Posts: 1,695
Make sure you don't have Hemlock among your evergreens. One advantage to pine needles is when they burp in your face, their breath will smell good!! I have heard that some evergreen during pregnancy is safe, but not too much. I don't know if this is right or not so hopefully someone like Vicki will chime in and correct me if I am wrong.
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Old 07/17/08, 01:12 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Missouri
Posts: 114
I mainly have the white pine and a short needled pine that has a lot of cones... mostly horseweed as they call it here, and no hemlock - thankfully. So, they could be happy campers out there... lots of bark for them to chew on since we had ice storms last winter, there is a lot of downed limbs... know they love them -
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Old 07/18/08, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Missouri
Posts: 1,350
Actually ceder or pines is good for the goats becuz it is naturally dewomer.
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Old 07/19/08, 07:36 AM
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Location: In the middle of Nowhere southeast Kansas
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If you raise goats for meat, the meat will taste like turpentine if they eat pine.
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Old 03/18/11, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by barelahh View Post
If you raise goats for meat, the meat will taste like turpentine if they eat pine.
Do you have personal experience with that happening? I know folks who feed pine/fir/evergreen to their goats and NO complaints about funky food flavor in the final products.
Je ne suis pas Alice
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Old 03/18/11, 06:23 PM
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Location: East of Bryan, Texas
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Pine and cedar browse also will lower parasite loads. Not so much that you should quit worming or anything, but they do have a positive effect on worm loads.

"First, Show me in the Bible where it says you can save someone's soul by annoying the hell out of them." -- Chuck
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Old 03/18/11, 06:53 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Frozen in Michigan
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if I could keep my goats OUT of my large pine trees they would be allowed to free range. Hubby wasn't happy when goats in the past ate the bark off his trees and devoured a lot of his limbs
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Old 06/28/13, 10:51 PM
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Louisa, VA
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: VA
Posts: 960
Pine and Preruminant Stomachs...?

I know this is an old thread, but my goat kids (3.5 months old) have all been having a horrible time with throwing cud (short version of story) lately - it lasts for a day, goes away, then comes back and goes away again. My vet, as well as some folks online, mentioned the possibility of pine needles causing it. Someone mentioned something about milk and pine needles not mixing well in a preruminant stomach. Can anyone point me to more info? We now have the kids out in the yard on grass, and are moving all goats out of the area containing pine trees tomorrow. I just want to read more about this for future reference. Thanks!
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