Organic Vineyard/Orchard Weed and Grass Management Using Miniature Sheep

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2004: $7,472.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Deborah Walton
Canvas Ranch


  • Fruits: grapes
  • Animals: sheep


  • Animal Production: general animal production
  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, community-supported agriculture, budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, value added
  • Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting, physical control
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Soil Management: composting
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    As vineyards and orchards are converted to sustainable, organic production, finding cost-efficient methods for managing weeds and grasses between rows becomes critical. This SARE-funded project will use a breed of miniature sheep called Olde English Babydoll Southdowns to graze in organic vineyards and orchards. Grower Deborah Walton will assess the sheep’s effectiveness compared with more labor-intensive organic weed and grass management methods like flaming and cultivating. Olde English Babydoll Southdowns are an ancient breed of miniature sheep that stand only 24 inches high at the shoulder, so they can graze grasses and weeds without being able to reach appropriately trellised grapevines or orchard fruit. The sheep, in turn, will add value through manure, wool and agri-tourism.

    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.