Imagine it’s your first day at your new job. You are now working at the beautiful Vergenoegd Low Wine Estate in South Africa. Just outside of Cape Town, you walk onto the property and see the strangest commute you’ve ever seen. A massive group of ducks are parading towards the vineyard. This isn’t some freak migration event. In fact, these 2,000 ducks are your co-workers.
How can ducks be employees at a vineyard? Simple, they serve as pest control. Every morning, these 2,0000 ducks march from their duck residences to the estate through a gate and fenced path. “The ducks […] love eating snails and mosquito larvae, and when they defecate on the field, their dung helps our vines grow” says Gavin Moyes, tasting room manager at the estate. It’s all part of Vergenoegd’s desire to achieve 100% pesticide and fertilizer-free product. Since 1983, the company has been refining their methods to work towards better sustainability and ecological pest control.
Look closely at the mass of ducks and you will notice some geese among them. That’s no accident. The geese serve as bodyguards for the ducks. “The ducks have absolutely no defense mechanism and are spooked easily. But the geese take on the role of their protectors, and go completely crazy when a mongoose or an owl approached and scares them away” says Moyes. The ducks work hard and adhere to a daily routine. They wake up at around 7 a.m., then march to work at 10:30. After gobbling pests up and pooping as they please, they return home at 4 p.m. All of the ducks live in clusters around the estate’s lake and have dedicated full-time caretakers. The only time they are not allowed in the vineyard is during harvest time. During this time, they still go on parade but instead to a large grassy patch with treats.
These ducks get a pretty sweet retirement package as well. When they get old, they retire onto the lake’s island. Every duck gets to die peacefully of old age after their years of hard work. There are some pretty lucky employees who get to call these friendly fowl their co-workers.