Winemakers Use Ducks As Pest Control


John Faure, whose family has owned the Vergenoegd winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa, since 1820, has a unique form of pest control — one that’s entertaining as well as functional. The winery is winning praise from environmentalists for using Indian runner ducks instead of chemicals to eliminate snails and bugs from its vineyards. The duck parade is a colorful affair that attracts tourists. Every morning, all 1,071 ducks huddle at the gate that separates them from the vineyards, and when the duck handlers whistle and wave their flags, the ducks are off to dine on snails and any other pests they may find in the vineyards. The care of the ducks costs about $19,000 a year, and while traditional pest control methods would cost a fraction of that, using the ducks is more sustainable. The ducks not only rid the vineyards of pests, they also fertilize the vineyards while they’re at it. In the end, duck handler Denzil Matthys says $19,000 a year for care of the ducks is a small price to pay to protect the vineyards.