Using Chickens Guineas and Geese to Break the Life Cycle of the Curculio Beetle Through the Bird’s Consumption of Dropped Fruit

Project Overview

FNC10-836
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2010: $5,980.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
John Baumann
Baumann Farm

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Fruits: apples, apricots, berries (blueberries), cherries, peaches, pears, plums, berries (strawberries), general tree fruits
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, broccoli, garlic, greens (leafy), peas (culinary), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: poultry

Practices

  • Animal Production: free-range
  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, feasibility study, value added
  • Pest Management: weeder geese/poultry
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, social networks, sustainability measures

    Summary:

    An Overall success

    The over all outcome of the this study was a success. We learned valuable information and experience with keeping birds in an orchard. I believe that with the correct ratio of birds to the area and proper management, chickens, guineas, and geese will greatly reduce the curculio beetle as well as other pests in the orchard.

    Introduction:

    An early warm up in mid February tricked the fruit trees again this year causing an almost full bloom by March 7th. We had a few hard frosts after that and with small fruit on the trees I attempted to save what I could by watering the orchard with a mist of water just before day break. I believe I was somewhat successful because the crop was not a total loss. After the winter off vacationing at the neighbors pond and the lake ajoining our property it was time to round the geese up and get them back into the poultry fence for the spring and summer. They were used to us now and we were able to herd them around like sheep. The chickens and guineas were still in the orchard and with the addition of some fresh baby chicks and guineas we were ready for a great season. We established the fencing similar to the configuration in 2011 . The birds did well and the trees did well also. The orchard floor recovered nicely from the previous summer’s wear and tear and the fruit trees, I believe, benefit from the frequent watering from the goose pools. All of the pear seedlings that were damaged the previous summer recovered nicely.

    Project objectives:

    Our goal for this season was to rotate the geese more and to split them up into the separate areas to reduce their damage to the floor of the orchard and to the trees. In hind sight 10 geese was too many for the area we needed to keep mowed. Our objective for the year was to observe the birds to see if they ate any of the downed fruit as well as the fruit for evidence of less curculio beetle damage.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.