Christmas trees have a lot of uses once all the festivities are ended. Personally, I used to feed them to my sheep but now I just burn mine in a big New Year’s Eve bonfire. Whatever you decide to do just be sure to remember RULE NUMBER ONE – Make sure the tree is free from all tinsel, ornaments, fake snow and other artificial decorations.
- Fish Habitat: Toss the tree into your pond or lake. Bass and many small fresh-water fish love to hide in the limbs for protection and nesting. Plus, you’ll know where to cast your line once spring rolls around.
- Animal Habitat: Homesteaders and rabbits are mortal enemies, so this sounds counter-intuitive. Yet, if you have a soft spot for the mangy little pests, set the tree in a safe spot in the ravine to serve as shelter for rabbits or other woodland creatures.
- Sheep or Goat Food: Years ago I would collect five or six leftover trees from my local garden store to feed to my sheep. It was a nice treat and gave them some entertainment. If you do this, again be sure that all tinsel and artificial decorations are removed. Also, know that the trees are mildly toxic, so overfeeding can cause some health-problems. A single tree per 3-4 animals is a safe bet. Also note that Christmas trees are more toxic for cows.
- Chicken Playtime: An old tree can break the winter boredom for chickens. Plus, it can be used as protection for my baby chicks in the spring. They enjoy hopping around the branches, and it gives them a sense of safety. This is especially true if you let the chicks into an outdoor run. Chicks can also practice perching.
- Bean Sprouts: I have never tried this but a friend said that he used it for training bean stalks one year. Go for it if you like, but I bet it would be kind of painful to pick beans through sharp, brittle tree limbs.
- Mulch: Break off the limbs and use them as bedding around trees, bushes or other perennials. The trunk can be used as firewood. Note that some experts that softwoods like Pine create more creosote build-up in chimneys.
Please feel free to share other ways of using your old Christmas tree.
Ben North lives and writes from a homestead in Iowa.
Regarding feeding your Christmas tree to livestock-only do this with a tree that you cut yourself or know was taken from the wild. Most commercial trees are treated with chemical fire retardants. I used to deliver and install live trees, one year after a few days after handing trees without gloves (duhhh) I had chemical burns