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Fedge ~ Living Paddock fencing ?  RSS feed

 
Jack Shawburn
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I have a cunning plan...err idea.
How about laying out your paddocks for your chickens
and planting a Living Fence "Fedge" with Willow ?
I think its pretty PC.
Will it be able to grow close enough to contain chickens?
A test strip should show if it's viable.
It would only be viable if you have enough moisture in the soil to sustain it...

The willow can be pruned (Pollarded) at the height required
in the second and subsequent years to allow it to send out sideshoots
which are woven through the Fedge, but open spaces need not be filled with living material.

What I find really cool about this is that it need not be in a straight line
It can be curvy to allow you to include whatever trees you need in it
and thus not requiring support until it's established.
A lot of mulch and cuttings for extension  can be generated from prunings
and it would create habitat too...

some websites showing what I have in mind
http://www.westwaleswillows.co.uk/fedgeplanting.html
found an older one here http://www.flickr.com/photos/86014911@N00/4572243668
 
                              
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Very interesting!  I wonder if you could do this for stock too (there's a whole thing here in NZ about willows, rivers and stock, where willows are a pest, but stock shitting in the water aren't). Would take a while though.
 
osker brown
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Another thing to consider is Mulberry.  I've read that cuttings can be easily rooted (I'll know for sure in the spring), and it makes a great feed plant as the berries and leaves are edible and nutritious for chickens (as well as other small foraging animals). 

So what about some mulberry branches in amongst the willow? 
 
Ken Peavey
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I've got bamboo at my house in town.  It grows quickly, reaching a height of about 20 feet in a couple of years.  It grows densely-I can't see through it where the stand is 10 feet wide.  While not useful as a fuel it comes in handy as a stake.

 
Paul Cereghino
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Here's a link to a thread on the topic that links to another thread on the topic. 
For chickens I think you'll need a shade tolerant understory to 'seal up the bottom' against curious chickens.  Small trees like willow will tend to kill off lower branches over time due to lack of light, so a polyculture may be more effective.  Hedge pruning might also be necessary?  I like the idea, and you'd likely need to work with cuttings to keep costs low.  The chickens will be attracted to these edges due ot mulch and shade, and so they'd have to be pretty tight.  I'm thinking salal and nootka rose might be nice part of the mix for my climate.

http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=7237.0
 
Hugh Hawk
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Underplanting seems like a good idea.  On one of those flickr photos you can see that grass has invaded under the willow and it would be hard to trim in there.  Comfrey could be a good candidate?
 
John Polk
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Even once it is mature, some small predators could still get through...
Some may even find it to be a good home, knowing that meals are close at hand.
 
                                  
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    It looks good, buit it wouldn't work for stock, every animal we have - pigs, horses, goats, sheep and cattle eat willow and would destroy that type of fence in hours.  And with Bambo, being a grass every thing from our ducks and geese to the above have grazed our bambo almost to death.


Martyn
 
Burra Maluca
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I think if you grow them pretty close together you can 'weave' them into a lattice, making them pretty inpenetrable to most livestock. 

When I tried to plant a circle of them in Wales to make a 'round pen' for training the young horses, the problem we had was that the next door farmer's sheep would continously break through his crappy fence and make a bee-line for them, and they didn't really cope with being grazed very well, at least, not while they were tiny. 
 
Hugh Hawk
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Yeah, I reckon it would get pretty strong after 2-3 years of being looked after and protected from grazing.  Might not be enough to keep pigs in though.
 
Tyler Ludens
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hijacker wrote:
    It looks good, buit it wouldn't work for stock, every animal we have - pigs, horses, goats, sheep and cattle eat willow and would destroy that type of fence in hours.  And with Bambo, being a grass every thing from our ducks and geese to the above have grazed our bambo almost to death.


I have had the same experience - my chickens and sheep will eat or destroy pretty much any kind of plant.  Turkeys are not as destructive, in my experience.

 
Roger Merry
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Ok - I'm going to play an ace card in oneupmanship here - I apologise in advance 

I used to work at a zoo and most of the old enclosures where chain link with shrubs and hedging along the sides not used for viewing areas for the public. Over the years the hedge grew through the chain link and was cut back occasionally as and when necessary - looks better than plain wire. We had 4 paddock areas for Bengal Tigers about 1/2 acre each - when we re developed the area we found that all the wire fence had rotted out years ago and the only thing keeping the tigers in was the hedge !!

I guess if a fedge will keep tigers in it should work with chickens !!

The serious response is that without the protection of wire mesh a line of just rooted willow won't keep much in, but given the initial protection it'll work fine 
 
Erik Lee
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Wow, Tigers!  Did you ever see them testing the hedge, or did they just accept it as impenetrable and forget about it?

As to the question on living fences, I'm going to try to contain my flerd of sheep, goats, donkey, and cattle using a mix of osage orange, black locust, and mulberry for the structure, with other fruiting and nut-bearing things added in to provide tasty snacks.  This project is just in its infancy though, so I have nothing useful to report other than I've read that osage orange and black locust are really good for this kind of thing.  For the record, I'm protecting the seedling hedge with electric fencing and I'm going to give tree shelters a shot next spring for the next phase of planting (goats and sheep are hard on my poor seedlings otherwise).
 
Tyler Ludens
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The hedges of Europe were impenetrable to most tanks.  But tanks don't usually eat plants.... 
 
John Polk
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Those hedges you speak of were also hundreds of years old.

If you can run electric sheep netting down the inside perimeter, you should be able to get it established to the point it will hold the livestock.  It will get better with each season.
 
Jason Matthew
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I have been enchanted with this idea for most of a year. I have a dozen hybrid willows in the ground surrounding one of my garden areas. You really need to wait until spring and buy dozens if not hundreds of whips to make a proper fence. I will take cuttings from my dozen and weave new growth in over the years to produce my fence.

You need about a three year head start to get an area prepared; to have the fence strong and ready for livestock.
 
Mike Guillory
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I live near a botanical garden.  There is a variety of bambo called fernleaf bamboo that would be useful for this.  It would offer protection from overhead predators and provide a good structure for the chickens to hide in.  I have been looking for some of this bamboo, to give it a try.
 
Paula Edwards
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bamboo is actually used for that, and maybe some other plants. I never heared of willow. All animals will get out eventually and electric sheep netting does not work when the wool gets thicker. The thought is interesting because there must have been a way to keep chickens in before the era of chicken wire. And they are hard to keep in! Willow is the preferred food of sheep.
 
                                  
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We have relatives in Germany whom have one of those old European Fram Houses with the barn attached.  Their chickens live in the barn at night and don't have a fenced run, they just run lose.   

We have chickens that live in our pig house, they roost above the pigs and free range during the day, we haven't lost a chicken - which surprises me.  My grnadparents kept their chickens in teh wood shed at night, they lived in Western NSW, had plenty of foxes - again no chicken run - but like the Germans they were around the house nearly all teh time.


Martyn
 
Paula Edwards
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they probably fenced their vegetable garden then and you can see this in older farms that the vegetable garden is fenced (and your neighbours must be fenced too).
 
                                  
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I think your right, from memory they have a stone wall around their veg patch.  We have ours fenced as well - our nieghbours are over 2km away so I don't think our chooks range that far
 
Jason Matthew
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The structure in the first video took many thousands of withies (cuttings) to establish and many years to graft them together. It is a nice goal to work toward.

 
Brenda Groth
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you could add jerusalem artichokes to any food hedge either inside or outside of the other plants and they would add a lot of protection as well as a food you could dig if so needed, for humans or livestock
 
Sam White
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Hedges and hedge laying used to be prevalent in some parts of the UK and I think, because some of the hedges have been around for hundreds of years, they can offer an insight into how hedges can naturally develop as an ecosystem while fulfilling the role of livestock containment as well. Often you'll see a number of different species of tree (Hazel, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, etc) forming the main barrier combined with an 'understorey' of various low-growing plants.

Hedge laying itself is a way of managing a hedge so that it remains stock proof. Basically you cut most of the way through the stem of the tree with a billhook or ax, lay the stem along the ground to form a barrier and subsequent stems above the lowers ones, and form a barrier that will prevent most livestock passing through. The trees will regrow from the cut (assuming it's a species that will respond well to coppicing) and add more height to the hedge until you get to a point where you need to lay the hedge again to fill in gaps at the bottom.

Once we get round to replacing our fences, I'd like to create hedges that provide more than just barriers... I'll probably experiment with using fruit trees (as standards) connected with nut or fruit producing species that will also respond well the laying and with a shade/partial shade variety of low growing plants. Possibly some climbers as well.

I attached a picture of some Hazel that my dad and I laid the other weekend and it should give you some indication of what I was trying to describe. It's definitely not the best laying in the world as we were using overstood/poorly maintained Hazel stools and we had to chop a lot of it out (not to mention the masses of barbed wire/wire mesh nailed to various dead or dying stems...). A Google search would yield better pics.
DSCF1147.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSCF1147.JPG]
 
garrett lacey
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Sam White
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Great picture!
 
Cj Sloane
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permacaper McCoy wrote:As to the question on living fences, I'm going to try to contain my flerd of sheep, goats, donkey, and cattle using a mix of osage orange, black locust...


Black locust bark & I think leaves are toxic to cattle and horses.
 
Cj Sloane
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Jack Shawburn wrote:I have a cunning plan...err idea.
How about laying out your paddocks for your chickens
and planting a Living Fence "Fedge" with Willow ?


Why willow when there are so many better choices? Honey Locust, Natal Plum, Hawthorn, or Black Locust (if no cattle or horses around). These fence in the chickens, if properly spaced, and they also have thorns (built in barbed wire) and would feed the chickens as well!
 
garrett lacey
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The advantage I see with willow is it's fast growing and layers easily.
 
Leron Bouma
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I don't think that black locust is toxic to anything (except fungus). Here is a youtube video of Ben Falk, Permaculture Designer from the NE, cutting black locust branches to feed his sheep and goats. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miTEmKk3gkw&list=FLFSnBqo2-kQe4gMTlT4QOFw&index=1&feature=plpp_video
The cuttings also feed chickens.
 
Leron Bouma
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I just did a google search on "black locust toxicity" and find stories of "black locust toxic to everything" and "black locust toxic to horses and cattle" as was reported in this thread. Since I am a sceptic by nature I wonder how thoroughly these reports have been researched. Since I just saw a video of sheep and goats feeding on black locust branches I know that the "black locust toxic to everything" story is nonsense. But additional information could be helpful if there was real scientific information that could be translated into meaningful actions, that is something that could be very useful. Such as, "Limit your animals access to black locust to x number of days per month." Alas, practical information is so rarely found.
 
garrett lacey
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The above image is similar to one found in 'The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency' by John Seymour. Its a pretty good, comprehensive homesteading book. Lots of old technologies explained, not specifically permaculture but quite useful/interesting.
 
Cj Sloane
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Leron Bouma wrote: Since I just saw a video of sheep and goats feeding on black locust branches I know that the "black locust toxic to everything" story is nonsense.


Actually, your logic is rather flawed. How do you know the animals didn't die after the video was made!

And you still don't know if black locust is toxic to cattle & horses, do you? And that is was I wrote.
I have researched this but if you find a video of someone feeding black locust to cattle and horses let us know. Of course, we still wouldn't know if it was safe. The animals could have died after that video was made!

I'm not trying to be rude but I doesn't seem like a great idea to play fast and loose with other people's livestock.
 
Leron Bouma
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CJin VT wrote:
I'm not trying to be rude but I doesn't seem like a great idea to play fast and loose with other people's livestock.


CJ,
I am sorry, I was not trying to give offense or to urge a lack of cautiousness in the care of your animals. As always one should error on the side of caution.
Since you say you have researched the toxicity of black locust in the particular instances of horses and cattle, I will defer to your judgement in that matter. And I will also defer to the judgement of Ben Falk when he feeds black locust foliage to sheep and goats. If he was promoting poisoning sheep and goats, he would lose credibility as a permaculture designer very quickly.
Again I realize that you were speaking specifically about horses and cattle and I applaud that, there is far too much overly generalized information (opinion?) being given out as fact.
 
Ivan Weiss
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Thanks a lot for this thread. I have been contemplating doing this on my five acres, and I have several thoughts I''d like to throw out there, based on my own situation (Western WA, Zone 8, plenty of rain, Maritime and Mediterranean climate).

1. Willow would be an integral part of any such hedgerow. My cattle love it. The leaves are 16 percent protein to begin with, and it is easily coppiced and laid into a hedge barrier.

2. The hedgerow should be a polyculture. Plants I am considering are:

a. Sea Buckthorn (thorny barrier, nitrogen fixer, edible fruit for humans and livestock)
b. Osage Orange (time-honored thorny barrier, easily propagated, outstanding firewood plant -- think rocket mass heater feedstock)
c. Hawthorn (thorny barrier, traditional hedgerow plant, leaves and flowers medicinal, berries super high in Vitamin C)
d. Rosa Rugosa (thorny barrier, easily propagated, rose hips super high in Vitamin C)
e. Siberian Pea Shrub (nitrogen fixer, peas are edible for livestock)
f. Mulberry (easily coppiced or pollarded, "Tree Crops" raves about the berries being chicken and hog fatteners)
g. Hazel (traditional hedgerow plant, edible nuts)
h. Elderberry (easily coppiced, edible berries, all parts of the plant medicinal)

I am sure there are others, and I welcome all suggestions that might be adaptable for my situation. Food plants such as comfrey, sunflowers, and Jerusalem artichoke could add to the fence without being part of the actual woven hedge.

Could chickens get through this? Maybe, but if you put it all atop a 4-foot-high hugelkultur berm, as sepp holzer recommends in his book, it could be one hell of a lot more effective. Bury some willow in the berm and likely it would sprout like crazy.



 
Cj Sloane
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Leron Bouma wrote:And I will also defer to the judgement of Ben Falk when he feeds black locust foliage to sheep and goats. If he was promoting poisoning sheep and goats, he would lose credibility as a permaculture designer very quickly.


Ben certainly is not promoting poisoning sheep & goats but I did attend a workshop at his place where he did promote using black locust as a living fence. He is likely unaware of the toxicity issue with horse and cattle (he does not have them on his site). I was quite gung ho to use black locust as my land is similar to his. Luckily, I did more research, and decided against it.

My point is, in choosing any species there are pros & cons and they are not always obvious. For example, it's perfectly fine to feed cattle foliage from cherry trees unless the leaves are wilted, in which case you might give them cyanide poisoning and kill them.
 
Cj Sloane
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ivan. wrote:... I have several thoughts I''d like to throw out there, based on my own situation (Western WA, Zone 8, plenty of rain, Maritime and Mediterranean climate).



I think you need to flesh out your situation. Is this fence to keep animals in or out? What kind of animals?

Search osage orange. Some here have bad things to say about it.

I plant on trying Hawthorn for chickens and part of my sheep paddock which is south of my house. I think it's the least likely to block the sun which heats my house.
 
Ivan Weiss
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GJin VT wrote:

think you need to flesh out your situation. Is this fence to keep animals in or out? What kind of animals?


I rotate beef cattle, chickens, and hogs. Usually the chickens and the cattle occupy the same pasture.
 
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