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Grazing-Based Viticulture

Poultry and Fowl

Antiquum Farm’s geese, chickens, and ducks follow the sheep and pigs in our grazing rotations. The initial grazing pass by hoven animals minimizes the the birds' vulnerabilty to aerial predators and lowers the forage height, thereby exposing insects and vineyard pests for the birds to pounce on.

Each Spring we incubate and hatch around 50 to 60 goslings from our breeding geese. Over a 16- to 20-week period, these birds will convert many tons of vineyard forage into fertilizer and microbiological inoculant for the vineyard. No other farm animal is more efficient at consuming grass than a goose. In fact, geese can subsist on a 100% grass diet by the age of 2 weeks. Their droppings offer a quick release of highly soluble nutrient material for the vines, furthering the complexity and diversity of the soil microbiome.

Our army of chickens has affectionately been dubbed "the weeding and sanitation crew," and their importance to the rest of the system cannot be overemphasized. Their vigorous scratching spreads out manure deposited by all the other animals and exposes parasite eggs to the elements. Late in the season, strategic placement of scratch grain directs their work toward precise and thorough under-vine weeding. Chicken toes are capable of much greater precision and attention to detail than any machine. These tireless birds also happily catch flies, snatch up hatching pests and parasite larvae, and even catch small rodents, such as voles, that can damage grapevines. They do all of this work while also producing thousands of delicious and nutrient dense grass fed eggs.

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