Thursday, April 12, 2018

Divaracating Coprosmas Best Goat Proof Hedge?

I've spent a lot of time researching goat proof plants and have formulated the hypothesis that New Zealand divaricating Coprosma species are the best overall species for a barrier hedge to protect more vulnerable garden plants. I have only had limited practical testing of this but it has been positive so far.

The domestication of goats has resulted in extinction of many plants species and there is academic debate as to whether they or fire are more to blame for the general lack of forests in the Mediterranean. There is no debate that they prevent the healthy regeneration of native bush in New Zealand. Much like petroleum their power appears to offer the easy way but like any great power its effects are by definition difficult to control, unless used with the greatest of prudence such power actually makes life harder, even impossible. Awareness of their indiscriminate destructiveness has grown in recent years and fashion and legislation are slowly catching up. It has recently become illegal for your neighbors goats to be on your land even with your permission in Wellington (they must be confined to the owners property (assuming of course this wasn't careless wording, quite possibly they meant to say "goats must be confined to properties where they have permission to be")) but if dobbing in your neighbor to the Council is not your style I suggest resorting to the miraculous divaricating Coprosmas.

Divaricating Coprosma are desirable because they are not actually poisonous to goats like many goat resistant plants such as Rhododendron or Avocado. It is the physical structure of the plants that prevents them from eating them, not taste or toxicity. This avoids psychological damage to the owner of the goats you are trying to keep out, and possibly even legal liability from deliberately planting a poisonous hedge to kill trespassing goats (I don't know if prosecution for this has ever happened but suppose it could).

In addition they are a dense, sturdy, wide plant that may be difficult or impossible for goats to penetrate, climb over, ring-bark or trample as they might with most other plants unpalatable to goats. I have seen divaricating Coprosmas largely untouched and undamaged in sheep and cattle farms, though they are found in relatively inaccessible spots, presumably where the young plants have had a chance to grow without being trampled.

In my experience goats do not eat small young divaricating Coprosma though tethered goats are likely to trample them to death with their erosion causing hooves, as they do many other plants unpalatable or toxic to them. So they will probably need fencing when young. I have also planted mine close together to increase strength.

Divaricating Coprosmas grow in a wide variety of conditions, are fire retardant and most grow quickly to several meters tall. They are ornamental and berries of all Coprosmas are thought to be edible to humans, though not especially tasty in most cases. There is probably variation amongst the the divaricating Coprosmas in terms of efficacy against goats, I'm trying several.


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