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Hedge as stock fence?

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Has anyone here planted hedge (hawthorn, blackthorn, etc.) as stock fence? Could you give a quick assessment of its benefits and drawbacks?
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Many European farms use hedgerows to divide their lands / pastures. Basically, it is made by cutting a small (less than 10' I imagine) tree down but allowing the tree to continue living - it is simply down on its side. Other trees are similarly cut, connecting / intertwining branches to form a barrier which livestock cannot cross. The result is a living fence which provides shade, a wind break and a fence at the same time. They require periodic maintenance, but many are centuries old :eek: . A major side benefit is to wild life, as these hedgerows provide escape cover, nesting sites and food to them.

Here is a web page for some references - I hope this helps.
benefits: great for wildlife; looks better than wire-mesh fencing; relatively low cost & maintenance; you can grow food in it :)

drawbacks: not great for small stock (eg. lambs); requires skill to 'lay' a hedge; needs to be inspected for holes/gaps regularly; takes time (i.e. YEARS) to get established before it can be used.
I'm no fan of hawthorn, maybe depends on your farming practices, permanent pastures can be seeded by the 'mother' trees. I average one flat tire on the tractor each year from thorns.
I read about 'rosa rugosa' or was it 'rosa multiflora' (never can keep them straight) being promoted as hedgerow plants 50-60 years ago in Ohio, durned things took over and became weeds.'s your place, and one of the nice things about farming is freedom.

It's a great day to be alive, especially when you consider the alternative. grin.
farmy said:
Has anyone here planted hedge (hawthorn, blackthorn, etc.) as stock fence? Could you give a quick assessment of its benefits and drawbacks?
About 10 years ago we moved some forsythia(sp?) maybe 50 plants that had some wild rose mixed with it and let it grow.It has become a very tight, thick hedge. I don't use it as a stock fence it's not where the cows go but it seems like it would hold them. Not sure if the plants would be a problem for the cows either. Have to look into this for myself. Tom
the rose in question was Rosa rugosa. (maybe R. multiflora too but ive not heard of that one being used). anyway i have no experience with it whatsoever but it was said to be stock-tight, it is beautiful to look at and fragrant too i think, and it will get away from u unless u r vigilant. also hedges do consume a lot of space--hundreds of feet of fenceline, say 8-10 feet thick. good wildlife habitat tho. i'm considering some type of hedge for fencerow myself but i have other priorities first. like a house.
In 1950, our ag teacher in high school was also teaching ww2 vets ag classes which they got paid to attend. Multiflora roses were touted to be wonderful natural fences. He had the high school boys (me) out on the vets farms setting out the roses.. They make a fence that would turn anything from rabbits to mountain goats.. Except for the bare spots where some plants didn't grow. None of the roses we set ever eventialy were used to hold stock.. Birds spread the seeds. They will come up everywhere the ground is left untilled or not sprayed. It is now illeagle to propagate them here. Many boughten roses are grafted to multiflora roots.
You'd be better off with kudzu. At least it can be eaten.
There were several osage orange fence rows around when I was a kid. They take a long time to get big enough for a fence. Stock trims up the low limbs. Then you'd have to put something in spots that aren't filled completly in. You will then have a 40 foot strip of ground that won't grow pasture or crops.
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I plan on using a hedge instead of a normal fence for my large stock when I get my land. My plan is to use willow/aspen brush and saplings laid down in the traditional way to grow sideways- willow will root anywhere it touches the ground and encourages other plants to root also-, also cut brush from land clearing in addition to some large root balls/stumps from downed conifers in the area. I also intend to plant young spruces very close together behind this, and in a few years it should be sufficient for stock. I can afford to wait that long because it's going to take several years to build the house, barn, etc. anyway. The spruces won't be big enough to matter for a decade or two, but till then the rest should do ok.
From what I've seen of people who use electric fence or barbed wire, hedge would be so much less of a headache. As long as its managed to be dense and impenetrable, it only gets better.
Also it's cheap or free, most of the materials are already there, just requires work (much more pleasant work than putting up fence posts and stringing wire), and it looks SO much better than wire fences. Totally sustainable, biodegradable, no wires to hurt animals or trees in future years, no fence posts that constantly need attention.
Also most of the scumbags who think nothing of cutting wire to get into a field won't go to the effort of getting through a really good hedge. A fence that keeps what should be in, in, and what should be out, out.
I like the fact that it shelters wildlife, too, although much of that wildlife will be vermin that will prey upon my crops and chickens. But all things considered, I think hedges are the way to go.
They've been used for so long in Europe and obviously they work sufficiently well for the stock over there, so they should work here just as well.
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Forgot to mention, don't plant multiflora rose if you value your sanity and the other vegetation on your land. Voice of experience here. It cannot be managed with anything short of a bulldozer and a controlled burn. It is HORRIBLE. It won't go away. It constantly puts out suckers that grow inches a day, invading in all directions. The tiny thorns don't just stick to the branches, they get on the ground and everywhere, and are extremely painful. Imagine what this could mean for a milk cow.
I'd rather fight kudzu and knapweed and burdock and Godzilla than multiflora rose.
I wonder if you could use mesquite as hedge fencing? Seems like it grows thick enough!

I LOVE the way hedges look- but I expect we'll settle for stock fencing and climbing roses.

Another thing: hedges, unlike any other kind of fence, influence the microclimate of the pasture. Tall hedges block or slow wind, which not only makes for a more pleasant area but also keeps the soil intact and moister. Some people say hedges with tall trees in them draw increased precipitation over a field...can't explain that one.
A hedge made up of dense brush and deep rooted large trees will really control erosion, too. This is very important considering the rate of topsoil loss on even a gentle slope. To some extent they will slow loss of water/nutrients in the soil as well.
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