Reading time 3 minutes

The Christmas tree in the living room is still beautifully decorated, but soon the needles will begin to fall quietly. Soon, everyone will be relieved when it is finally taken down. But do you have to put it in the bin? Can’t you also feed it to your horse? It is well known that horses enjoy nibbling on wood and don’t disdain conifers. The resins they contain make them the ‘eucalyptus candy’ for horses.

If you bought your Christmas tree from the local forest or directly from a woodsman, perhaps even cutting it yourself, you can easily place it in the horse turnout after Christmas—without tinsel, of course. This provides days of fun, games, and entertainment for the group: the tree is given a good shake to startle the mates, then it is dragged around and nibbled on repeatedly.

Nibbling can be a particular problem if the tree comes from a ‘Christmas tree sale. As a buyer, you don’t know where the tree comes from or what has been done to it before your purchase. Spraying agents against diseases, especially insecticides and fungicides, is frequently employed in Christmas tree plantations, as the trees are particularly susceptible to plant diseases, primarily due to monoculture production.

In some cases, portions of the tree that appear yellowish are sprayed with green paint before being sold to ensure they look aesthetically pleasing and uniform. It is, therefore, advisable to dispose of trees purchased in stores in the compost bin, as it is challenging to determine whether the tree may still harbor harmful spray residues for the horse.

Instead, you can gather a few fir or spruce branches during your next walk in the woods and place them in the turnout. With winter in full swing, there’s often plenty of logging activity in the forest, resulting in numerous branches scattered around.

When feeding such wood, it is always important to remove nibbled wood in good time. The branches of Christmas trees, in particular, are sometimes nibbled down completely. They then present a significant risk of accidents if these ‘tree skeletons’ are left lying around in the turnout.

When playing, or if a horse is frightened or being chased by another horse, it may jump into these sharp, protruding branches and injure itself severely. Nibbled Christmas trees should be promptly disposed of, preferably in the compost bin. It is better to add a few fresh branches, obtained, for example, when the fruit trees or willows in the neighborhood are pruned.