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Hedges on sheep farms


Native Irish hedges or ditches are wonderful for biodiversity, farmers are encouraged to plant more. Where do hedges fit in on sheep farms? Especially on farms with lots of dry stone walls which themselves are fantastic for biodiversity. Find out more from Catherine Keena & Noel Claffey

Teagasc Athenry

The Teagasc Sheep Research farm in Athenry comprises 125 ha and there are 8 kms of dry stone walls and 8.2 kms of hedges. The benefits of having hedges on a sheep farm are shelter in the springtime and shade in hot summers. Once protected by sheepwire, there isn’t any problem with sheep getting tangled up in the hedges or going through them. The plan for the farm in Athenry is to plant new hedges, subdividing some of the bigger fields.

When existing hedges are being trimmed it is intended to shape them as opposed to the ‘old school’ flat top. A single thorn tree will be selected every so often and retained so it can grow up through the hedge. Having a good height, shape and a single thorn tree growing through the hedges is of benefit to our birds, our bats and our bees.  

Sheep farmers are proud to play a part in the environment and for biodiversity, as well as for the appearance of our countryside and our carbon output, as well as the major contribution to our uplands by hill sheep farmers. Overall the sheep industry is open to playing their part.