The snails and slugs feasting on the grapes in this South African vineyard have nothing on the winemakers’ army of ducks that run through the land twice a day, snacking on troublesome pests.
They aren’t just any ducks either, they’re Indian runner ducks that give the vineyard’s “Runner Duck” wine product its namesake. At the Vergenoegd vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa, a guide leads an arm of one thousand and counting runner ducks across the vineyard to remove pests from the vines. The duck army can clear more than 2 acres of troublesome organisms, so they vineyard can proudly claim minimal usage of chemicals on their crops.
Indian runner ducks are an extremely unique species. They stand upright like penguins and run instead of waddling like their quacking cousins. On that note, it’s only the female Indian runner ducks that actually quack, and even then the non-flying birds prefer to be snacking rather than quacking.
These long-necked animals lay eggs as they walk rather than settling down and making a nest, again highlighting a tendency for these ducks to focus most of their energy on running and eating.
For the South African vineyard, these ducks are a priceless asset that keeps their grapes growing pest and chemical-free, plus the running ducks provide great entertainment for regular guests of the vineyard. In the words of Vergenoegd winemakers, “one man’s pest is another duck’s snack.”