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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - June 28, 2012

From: Palmdale, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Goat damage to Arizona Cypress from Palmdale CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My goats stripped the bottom branches of my Arizona Cypress. Will they come back and how can I prevent future damage?

ANSWER:

Cupressus arizonica (Arizona cypress)  is native to Fresno and San Diego Counties, but not Los Angeles County, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map. However, we feel sure it will do well in your area. We don't know if an eaten area of trunk will regrow foliage, but doubt it would be this year, perhaps in the Spring. Follow the plant link to our webpage on the tree to learn about its water and light needs, as well as growing conditions. From that webpage: "Conditions Comments: Arizona cypress is drought-tolerant, fast-growing and relatively short-lived (30-50 years)." If the area that is affected is not too large, it probably wouldn't affect this tree.

However, if the goat is snacking on the bark, that is another matter. From the website Homesteading Today, we found this question and answer:

"Why are my goats eating the bark off my trees?

I have only had the goats/sheep (2 goats, 2 sheep, 3 wethers, and one ewe) for about 6 months and they have been living off the 2+ with about a pound of gain per day. My question is are they not getting enough food? Or is this what goats do? They are eating the bark off some 40 year old Fir trees and I'm concerned. Will they Kill the 3 trees?"
Answer: "That is part of their normal diet. Yes, they can kill the trees.
I sure hope you have hay out full time / free choice for them.
Goats who aren't being milked don't need the grain, but they do need good quality hay."
From goatworld.com an article Plants that Goats Won't Eat
As for your last question about preventing future damage? We know very little about the Cupressus arizonica (Arizona cypress) and absolutly nothing about goats, but after reading the articles we would say future damage will be prevented by fencing in the tree or fencing out the goat, which actually is the same thing.

 

 

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