Whenever there is a conifer to be trimmed, I make sure that those boughs make their way to the sheep. They love to eat them, and they are a great source of Vitamin C. Another benefit is that the tannins in pine, spruce, etc. have anthelmintic properties, meaning that they have some ability to help keep worms in check. From what little research I could find on the topic, it is similar in potency to garlic, which means it’s primarily good as a preventative measure, not a treatment once infestation sets in. But a little extra prevention is good by me! My research also found no indication of any potential harm to the sheep. So in the end what I have is a tasty treat that they enjoy, and that has the added benefit of a bit of vitamin C and some tannins for a little worm prevention. Hard to go wrong with that!
1. Ecological Agriculture Projects, McGill University. “CONTROL OF INTERNAL PARASITES IN RUMINANTS.” Oct 28, 2002, 9:57am. http://goatconnection.com/articles/publish/article_55.shtml
2. Short RE, James LF, Panter KE, Staigmiller RB, Bellows RA, Malcolm J, Ford SP. “Effects of feeding ponderosa pine needles during pregnancy: comparative studies with bison, cattle, goats, and sheep.” J Anim Sci. 1992 Nov;70(11):3498-504.