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Hedge laying using the Midland Bullock style

Posted: Wednesday 15th February 2017 by trustadmin

Hedges are important conservation habitats. Traditional hedge laying is an ancient art that provides a window into the past.

Hedge laying is a rural past time that combines agriculture, heritage and nature conservation. By using traditional skills and methods passed down through generations, hedge laying can create valuable habitats for wildlife whilst providing land and livestock boundaries.

At Banovallum House Nature Reserve we’ve been laying a hedge on the edge of our meadow. Please see the video below to watch a quick time lapse showing our team at work.

According to the Lincolnshire Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) : “Many of our Lincolnshire hedges are no longer managed in the traditional manner as the labour intensive practices of hedge laying and coppicing have been replaced by mechanical trimming. Unless sympathetically performed, this can lead to gaps and a decline in overall wildlife habitat quality”.

By laying a hedge in the traditional manner shown in the main photograph the hedge becomes thicker due to fresh growth, creating more cover for species and more light into the surrounding grassy hedge bottoms, which can encourage wildflowers and provide valuable insect habitat.

Key hedge facts:

  • Hedges may support up to 80% of our woodland birds, 50% of our mammals and 30% of our butterflies.
  • Two thirds of England has been continuously hedged for over a thousand years, so many of our older hedgerows are a window into the past.
  • Over 130 BAP species can be found in our hedgerows.

Threatened UK mammals such as hazel dormouse, bank vole, harvest mouse and hedgehog nest and feed in hedgerows, and bats, such as the greater horseshoe and Natterer’s bats, use them as green ‘commuter routes’ for foraging and roosting. Woodland and farmland birds such as blue tit, great tit, blackbird, yellowhammer and whitethroat can be found singing, feeding and nesting along our native hedgerows; providing a connecting thread of life across Lincolnshire.

Additional hedgerows can also prevent soil erosion, capture pollutants such as fertilisers and pesticides running off fields, store carbon to help combat climate change, and provide homes for predators of many pest species. They also provide vital links across the countryside for wildlife, helping it to move about freely and keeping populations healthy

The Midland Bullock

Hedge laying is an ancient rural craft that varies across Britain. In the midlands the 'Midland' or 'Bullock' style became prominent. The midlands region was famed for beef cattle and hedges needed to be robust to keep big heavy bullocks in their field.

Key aspects of the Midland Bullock style involve stakes driven into the ground and facing the road or plough land, while brush is on the animal side to stop them from eating new growth. The hedge slopes towards the animals, as stakes are driven in behind the line of the roots. Strong binding is woven along the top providing additional strength so that bullocks cannot twist it off with their horns.

In the video below we used the Midland Bullock style at Banovallum, which you can see from the stakes and willow binding that runs along the top of the hedge. Many thanks to Matt Davey from Lincolnshire County Council for helping us with this.
 

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