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The Wooded Meadow

Tree leaves have been used for fodder since the Stone Age, the time when people in Sweden started keeping animals.

When a tree is harvested for its leaves, most or all of its branches are cut off or ‘lopped’. After a few years when its branches have grown back, a tree can be lopped again.

In the mid-1900s, lopping had stopped almost completely.

An axe and a leaf knife are used in tree lopping. The leaf knife has a wide blade with a bent tip to help the user pull down branches to cut them. The leaves are bundled then hung to dry. In winter, the bundles are fed to animals. Chewed bundles are used for fuel.

Various hardwood trees can be lopped. Historically, trees were lopped not only in meadows but also along fields, in allées or other places on farms or village communal areas.

Leaves are nutritious fodder. Sheep and goats especially like leaves. Cattle and horses prefer grass but do eat leaves.

Interest in tree lopping today is increasing. Lopped trees provide a more biologically diverse habitat than those that are not lopped. Lopped trees attract more birds, beetles, butterflies, mosses, lichens and other plants and animals.

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