As growing numbers of wineries around the world consider the merits of organic and biodynamic principles, many are deploying vineyard animals to help fight weeds and pests without the use of chemicals...
Sheep are used by many vineyards to help with weeding the vines. Last month (21st January), English sparkling wine producer Nyetimber brought 400 sheep to their West Sussex vineyards, and a further 200 to their Hampshire site. They’ll be helping in the vineyards until the end of February, when they return to their farms for lambing season.
Peter Yealand, of Yealands Wines in New Zealand, has been experimenting with different animals for a while. As well as babydoll sheep (next), he uses Kunekune pigs for weeding, which eat vegetation without excessively digging up the ground, like other breeds.
Yealands babydoll Sheep
Both Kunekune pigs and babydoll sheep are able to graze in the Yealands vineyards all year round, because these breeds are too small to reach the grapes!
Previously, Yealands tried using giant guinea pigs in their vineyards, but sadly they were hunted by local hawks.
Where there are sheep, there are often sheep dogs. At Navarro Vineyards, there are dogs to help herd the sheep do their weeding, such as Border Collies, and ones to protect the sheep from predators, such as Great Pyrenees.
Geese are found in vineyards in a range of locations, from the UK to California to Chile. They are also used for weed control in the vineyards.
Chickens are used in a number of vineyards to combat weeds, cutworms and other insect pests that would harm the vines.
At Quivira Wine, amongst others, the chicken manure is also used in the compost soil, as part of their organic farming.
Credit: Wine Institue, Calfornia
Falcons and hawks
Gallo Family Vineyards and Cakebread are amongst the wineries using falcons or hawks to ward off starling birds, which were eating their grapes – whilst at the same time, not disturbing the local area or nature.
Credit: Wine Institute, California
Bobcats, similarly to the hawks, are used at Navarro Vineyards to keep away pests that may eat the grapes or damage the vines, such as jackrabbits and gophers.
Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦
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