Constructing a Goat Proof Natural Hedge Fence

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2014: $1,370.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Christine Kocourek
Floppy Ear Farm, LLC

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: apples, plums
  • Animals: bovine, goats


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, grazing management, grazing - multispecies, housing
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, hedgerows
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Hedges have been used for centuries in England to contain livestock. The point of this project is to construct a natural goat-proof hedge that will act as a barrier fence as well as eventually provide a wind break and create a natural separation from the surrounding non-organic farmers’ land.

    We try to raise our goats as naturally as possible. The use of chemical fertilizers, treated seeds, and pesticides on the fields surrounding our property is a concern. We would like to erect a natural regenerating barrier that doubles as stock-proof fence and protects our fields and animals from chemical drift.

    In England, stock-proof hedges have been utilized for centuries as supplemental fodder sources during times of drought, as wind-breaks, and as havens and transportation corridors for birds and small mammals. Using the principles discussed in the book Hedges and Hedgelaying: a guide to planting, management, and conservation by Murray Maclean, we would like to construct an eighty foot test hedge on one side of one of our paddocks. Since we mix species as we graze the pastures, the hedge must be able to eventually resist the advances and browsing of goats, cattle, llamas, mules, and donkeys.

     We would like to construct a single-line hedge consisting of 90% hawthorn. The remaining 10% will consist of wild crab, wild plum, and possibly willow which are suitable species for our clay type soil.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    I intend to measure growth, height and width, of the various hedge plants on a monthly basis. When I feel the hedge is dense and high enough to test livestock on, I will begin to slowly introduce first individual species and then mixed species into the paddock with the hedge border. Photographs and width/height measurements will be taken prior to the introduction of the species to the paddock. Browsing preference will be noted. For instance, if the goats attempt to graze the wild crab down to nothing, this will be noted. If animals escape the hedge, dimensions (height/weight, etc) and species of the animal will be noted. For instance, young goat kids may find a way through the hedge while it may be able to repel the older animals.

    As I have direct access to my website,, and already keep it up to date with pertinent goat research, articles, and local news, it will be easy and quick to keep a visual and written log of my findings.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.