EverGraze Action – Perennial grass hedges provide shelter at lambing
Grass hedges are tall pasture species sown in rows, about 10-15 m apart, which are allowed to grow rank during their reproductive phase in spring. Grass hedges are most effective for winter-early spring lambing where cold winds commonly occur. There is less benefit from using hedges for late spring or autumn lambing when temperatures are higher.
The best species for grass hedges are tall growing perennial grasses that remain upright when senescent and are not readily eaten by sheep. Tall wheatgrass is ideal but has been declared a high weed risk in Victoria. Phalaris, tall fescue and Rhodes grass can also be used. These perennials also use soil water, reduce recharge and protect the soil from erosion.
Between the hedges, a more palatable perennial grass is sown and this species is managed to provide high quality forage at lambing. Correctly established and managed hedges do not require fencing.
Grass hedges have several advantages over shrub and tree belts. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to establish and are able to provide effective shelter the year after sowing. The best protection is close to the ground where it is most effective for small lambs, whereas shrubs often tunnel wind below the canopy. If the hedges are not required in the future, they can be easily removed. For up to date information on research and recommendations on use of shelter for lamb survival, see the Hamilton EverGraze Proof Site page.