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...
Vineyard animals – Unlikely helpers
Sheep are used by many vineyards to help with weeding the vines. Last week (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.