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Author Topic: Sheep friendly wind break bushes  (Read 10324 times)


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« on: January 29, 2016, 10:02:48 am »
We have some rhododendron bushes just outside the fence line on one of our fields. They make a great wind break, and the sheep like to huddle in that corner when it's breezy.

However this morning I found loads of blown-off leaves strewn across the field, and made myself late for work picking them up. Since rhododendrons are poisonous to sheep, I've decided to get rid of them.

My question is, what should I plant to replace them?  I want something that will be:

  • Non-toxic to livestock
  • A good wind-break all year round
  • fast-ish growing
  • Non-prickly if possible

It would also be a nice bonus if they were edible in some way (either by me or the birds).

Any ideas?  :thumbsup:
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett


  • Joined Feb 2010
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2016, 10:17:50 am »
Gorse!  :thumbsup:


  • Joined Mar 2013
  • Highlands, Scotland
  • Home is were my animals are.
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2016, 10:45:17 am »
We planted Rosaragosa ( dont know if thats how you spell it)
Sheep and ponies love it and the rose hips, you can use them too.
Flowering currant too, the goats would go mad for it.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2016, 12:18:52 pm »
The best we have found is, I'm afraid, prickly.  A mixed hedge which includes a high proportion of hawthorn, planted close, is good.  Animals love it, birds can nest and roost in it, and eat the berries, it grows fairly fast and shelters slower growing species as they grow.  Best to also have other plants such as hornbeam or beech, as these hold their leaves in winter.  Please please don't plant Lawson Cypress  :roflanim:.  So many murders and court cases seem to be sparked by that stuff, it grows too big, and doesn't provide anything that anything can eat.  It does supply wind protection though (until it blows over) and somewhere for birds to shelter and nest. Oh and a hunting ground for insectivorous birds such as tits and goldcrests.
While you're at it, you might go the whole hog and plant a wildlife hedge, with a wide variety of different species, to provide nectar, fresh green leaves, berries.  You will need to fence off the hedge from sheep as it grows, otherwise they will graze on it as high as they can reach.  Cattle love pulling up newly planted hedge too.
If it's windy where you are, and you're feeling rich, you could put up a stretch of windbreak netting to protect the young plants as they grow, and to provide the windbreak effect for your flock until the hedge is big enough. It makes a big difference to how quickly the plants will grow. Protect from voles too - voracious wee devils  :hungry: :tree:
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 12:25:00 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2016, 12:20:33 pm »
Beech / hornbeam?
I think most evergreens are poisonous, i know you said non-prickly but holly is a favourite with birds round here, seems slow to start but when it get going it's fast.
You could always tack some windbreak on the fence for a year or 2?
If there's space how about some fire trees? Plant close together and as they grow you can use them as Christmas trees. Keep nipped back and they will stay smallish for years


  • Joined Jul 2008
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2016, 03:29:01 pm »
Hazel - native, non-prickly, holds leaves late into the year, excellent sheep fodder, good for bees and birds, useful wood, easy to lay to produce a thick hedge or coppiced if you prefer :thumbsup: .


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2016, 03:47:10 pm »

If you want them to be able to get in among the bushes, then not too prickly - so no gorse, hawthorn or blackthorn.  They love to get in there and scratch, losing/damaging fleece, and even getting tangled and caught up, especially if there's any brambles around. 

But if you can protect the hedge with a fence, hawthorn has edible shoots, which they love - and the birds love the berries/haws.  :thumbsup:

As the hedge grows, you can decide whether to keep it fenced, and lay it to keep it bushy, or whether to let it develop 'legs' so the sheep can get under it safely
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing


  • Joined Mar 2012
  • South Wales
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2016, 04:02:20 pm »
A tight hazel hedge, that is laid regularly, would be my preference. :)


  • Joined Dec 2007
    • Spered Breizh Ouessants
    • Facebook
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2016, 05:32:28 pm »
Inherited a lonicera hedge which is a great windbreak not spikey and is loved by birds for nesting. it does require a trim once or twice in a year to keep it from outgrowing itself but its dense and evergreen.
Ravelry Group: - Ouessants & Company


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Sheep friendly wind break bushes
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2016, 04:49:11 pm »
I was thinking of evergreens because they would give a better windbreak over winter,
but have you thought of willows, and bending them and weaving into a 'fedge'?

just realised not edible by you, but sheep would love trimmings :-)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2016, 04:56:53 pm by penninehillbilly »


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