Fencing Livestock - Hedgerows and fence types

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I'm educating myself about fences for my one (and only) 2&1/2 acre field. Can someone explain what "field fencing" is? Around here (central Massachusetts) folks talk about "sheep fencing" or "woven wire". Are these all the same thing?

Also, does anyone have any experience in creating hedgerows to fence fields? I love the look and functionality (as well as the collateral benefits of habitat and crops such as blackberry) of the hedgerows in England, but one rarely sees them in the US.

-- DavidL from Mass. (owlhouse2@cs.com), September 06, 2001


I am interested in this myself. If you are talking about hedgerows, I believe the europeans do not use them for animals (but am not sure). If you did, the animals might eat them and the berries. I'll be interested if someone says something helpful. My other thought is that you'd have to keep up with the spreading of hedges.

-- Ann Markson (tngreenacres@hotmail.com), September 06, 2001.

Hi David. Hedges are very common in this country (NZ) and most have the characteristic of not being very palatable! Gorse, boxthorn, macrocarpa for example. Blackberry is considered a weed here. I don't thing hedges are as popular as they once were and I dont recall seeing a newly planted one in recent times.

Hedges provide shelter as well as fencing the stock in. Hedges require maintenance as they must be quite severly trimmed to maintain the density. Trimming is usually done by machine, often home made, a sort of rotary flail mounted on a tractor.

You would need to consider the time that your hedge would take to become established. If you field is to be frequently cultivated then I think that is enough to keep the hedge from spreading otherwise gorse and blackberry will try to take over the neighbourhood.

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), September 06, 2001.

David, I don't think anyone answered your question regarding Feild Fencing. Fencing comes in a wide varity of forms. Depending on what you will be putting inside your fence, determines the need. Most fences in the South, least ways where I am, use Wire Fence or Net Fence, which I do not recall the exact name of it. It is fencing of a linked nature, which has small squares at the bottom and graduates to larger squares at top, about 4 inches square. There is usually a strand of bobbed wire placed around the top to keep ambious critters from going over it. If you will be keeping hogs, or other small animals in, you might put a strand of bobbed wire at the bottom also to keep them from going under. I have seen, and also put up, plain bobbed wire. Three or four strand seperated by a foot or so. I personally do not like this type, as it required several passed over the same area three or four times, and can get rather painful. (from all the cuts and scratches) There are several types of other wire, which is welded together, and has a smaller hole space, but mostly that is used for chickens, small animals, etc. I'm definitely not an expert, as I Bearly Know what I am doing most of the time, but hope this helps.

-- Bear (BarelyKnow@aol.com), September 06, 2001.

I recently purchased a book named "Country Living", published by DK Publishing, which had information on hedging. In a nutshell, after planting and waiting five years, you cut the base of the tree to make a 'hinge', allowing the plant to fall over without killing it. You cut the plants in a line, than drive posts in between them. Weave the limbs of the plants back and forth through the posts. You then furthur reinforce the posts with more limbs, weaving them to make the posts more fixed in position.

Seems labor intensive to me, but you get a whole lot of other benefits other than fencing. The hedgerows also provide shade for your animals, a windbreak for your property, and provide much needed wildlife habitat on your property. No other fence barrier provides so many other side benefits. I suppose if the hedgerow plant bore berries, you can also utilize it as a source of food (Need to beat the birds to them too). Cool idea, hedgerows.

The book was recently published, costs about $20.00 (Hastings), and is very well illustrated; a coffee table book with a lot of good information from the English countryside. Bet ebay can beat the price if you are interested.

-- j.r. guerra (jrguerra@boultinghousesimpson.com), September 07, 2001.

Oops, forgot to mention Bear. I think the reason that the small squares are on the bottom of that fencing are to prevent small animals like rabbits from coming through. At least, from what I heard.

-- j.r. guerra (jrguerra@boultinghousesimpson.com), September 07, 2001.

We get our field fencing at home depo. You may want to check there. They have it in different heights. To put it up you will need a fence puller to pull it tight.

You may also want to check into hot wire also depending on what animals you want to contain. I crunched figures and hot wire was about the same cost BUT a whole lot easier to put up.

I am planning on putting in a hedgerow next spring of rugosa roses. They are a species rose so very hardy. I don't think they'd stop goats but should stop my horses. I have heard of people around here using osage orange as a hedgerow. I think there was a discussion on here about it, check the archives.

-- Stacia n OK (OneClassyCowgirl@aol.com), September 07, 2001.

David, The homesteaders planted Osage Orange trees(hedge trees) around the perimeter of the farm because that was one of the reqirements of improving and laying claim to your farm. In Kansas, Osage Orange trees were one of the few trees hardy enough to withstand the severe weather changes. In recent times these hedge rows were cut down to make room for more crops, again there were weird government regulations about how much wheat you could plant. I like the knarley things and have some very old ones in my back pasture, that I won't let my sons or their friends cut down. they make great fence posts that last as long as any steel post and great firewood too. The woven wire or field fence is what I use to fence in my goats and sheep. Barb wire is what the ranchers use to fence in their cattle, usually 5 or 6 strands of it. Hope thsi helps

-- Karen in Kansas (kansasgoats@iwon.com), September 07, 2001.

Thank you for all your thoughtful reponses. This is the first time I've used a bulletin board like this and I'm now hooked! Looks like I need to research plant materials - growing up in NZ I know what gorse is like - and it'd stop a bull! I just need to find a New England equivalent.

-- DavidL from Mass. (owlhouse2@cs.com), September 12, 2001.

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