As the holiday season nears an end, and people begin to toss out their Christmas trees before the entire floor is littered with needles, people in the Icelandic countryside know one thing that a lot of Reykjavík-area Icelanders might not: goats and horses are very fond of old Christmas trees, both as a snack and as a toy.
RÚV paid a visit to Vilhjálmur Grímsson, a farmer who receives numerous old Christmas trees from his neighbours, which he in turn gives to his goats. He says the goats quickly devour the needles from the tree, and then gnaw off the bark. It takes them just a few days to gnaw the bark off completely from a single tree. Interestingly, he says when the goats are outside, they tend to leave living trees alone; that they might eat the needles, but avoid eating the bark.
Horses are also fond of old Christmas trees, but as horse veterinarian Helga Gunnarsdóttir tells reporters, it is important not to let the horse have at the trees unsupervised. She says trees should be taken from the horse before they get past the bark, lest the horses get splinters in their mouths or otherwise injure themselves.
Old Christmas trees are more than just snacks to horses, according to horse owner María Jespersen, who says that after the horses eat all the needles off the trees, horses then use the trees as toys. This was confirmed by another horse owner, Rósa María Stefánsdóttir, who said her horses will use old Christmas trees to play, sometimes by having a tug-of-war match with them or tossing the trees back and forth between them.
If New Years Eve, with its explosive fireworks, is stressful for these animals, they can at least take comfort in knowing they will soon have Christmas trees to eat and play with, as a treat.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!