Live trees a treat for farm animals
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Jan 11, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Live trees a treat for farm animals

Ottawa East News

Not sure what to do with that Christmas tree still hanging around the living room? Why not turn it into a snack for farm animals.

The Constance Creek Wildlife Refuge and the Elk Ranch are both accepting donations of live conifer trees such as spruce, pine or fir as forage for elk and goats.

“It’s a bit like keeping the scurvy off,” said Thom van Eeghen, who owns the Elk Ranch with his wife Fay Armitage. “There’s a high vitamin C level in conifers.”

Donating live trees could be an even greener alternative to throwing them in the green bin once the holiday season is over.

“The trees provide a welcome change of diet for the goats, who mostly eat hay,” said Lynne Rowe, founder of the wildlife sanctuary in Dunrobin. “They also …  act as a natural dewormer.”

The Constance Creek Wildlife Refuge has 23 goats on site that love snacking on donated trees.

“They will strip a tree bare (of) needles and bark in less than a day,” said Rowe. “The tree skeletons will be used for a bonfire, hopefully to accompany a CCWR volunteer and supporter skating party later this winter if we can clear off part of the creek.”

In recent days. the Elk Ranch in Carp was given a large donation of around 70 unsold trees by Holy Redeemer Church for its 80 free-range elk.

“We’d still love for people to drop them off,” said van Eeghen. “We’ll find somewhere to put them.”

Last year, the ranch had close to 100 trees donated for the animals.

“It pretty much ran us right through the winter,” said van Eeghen.

It’s important trees aren’t dried out so they retain their nutritional value, said van Eeghen, adding the elk won’t eat chemically-treated trees.

“The elk can sense that or taste it and those trees don’t get consumed,” he said.

All tinsel must be removed since the elk and goats can’t digest the decorations and it can be harmful to their systems.

People can drop their live trees off at the Constance Creek Wildlife Refuge at 2494 Dunrobin Rd. beside the driveway, or at the Elk Ranch, located at 1271 Old Carp Rd., in front of the barn.

Both van Eeghen and Rowe said people are invited to visit the animals when they drop off live trees. To arrange for a tour of the wildlife refuge, send an email to For a list of operating hours for the Elk Ranch, visit

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