Oregon vineyard uses goats to fight wildfires

An Oregon winery uses a wide range of farm animals to improve its wine and protect the farm from wildfires.

Antiquum Farm in Junction City, Oregon, houses sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, dogs and goats.

Owner and farmer Stephen Hagen told FOX Weather on Monday that the farm practices pasture-based viticulture, using animals to manage vegetation.

“We use sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, a whole range of animals, to manage vegetation and reduce the risk of forest fires, as well as to improve and really change the personality and the expression of our vines,” said Hagen.

Stephen Hagen, owner and farmer of Antiquum Farm, with Kune Kune grazing pigs in Junction City, Oregon. Pigs are native to New Zealand. (Image: Antiquum Farm/Stephen Hagen)

The sustainable method helps protect the 140-acre farm and benefits the wine. Antiquum offers Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and sparkling wine. Customers can also purchase eggs, honey, and livestock.

Hagen said all animals are used for different reasons. The goats are the “firefighters” of the farm.

“In the vineyard, we use the gut fauna of all animals to create a diverse microbiome in our soils that over time has improved the vines,” Hagen explained.

HOW LAND CONFIGURATION AFFECTS FOREST FIRE BEHAVIOR

Meanwhile, in the forest around the vineyard, Kuni Kuni pigs, a type of New Zealand grazing pig, feed on the vegetation. According to the Antiquum Farm website, the pigs are “funny, friendly and efficient.”

Every few weeks animals are moved around the farm to redistribute material and create microbial diversity in the soil.

Antiquum Farm in Junction City, Oregon

Antiquum Farm in Junction City, Oregon is home to Katahdin/Dorper sheep that assist in pasture-based viticulture. (Image: Antiquum Farm/Stephen Hagen)

“The idea is for everything here to be self-sufficient, not just the vines and wines, but also our animals, to only use the resources we have on the farm,” Hagen said.

He said the intention is to live with and survive the fire, not to eliminate it. Forest fires are an integral part of a forest ecosystem.

SOME IN CALIFORNIA TURN TO GOATS TO REDUCE RISK OF WILDFIRES

“Even if today we were to holistically change the way we manage western forests, and when I say that, I don’t mean chopping down all the trees,” Hagen said. “But to really go back to a vision that creates forest structures that allow wildfires to pass through them without devastating them, that’s a 150-year-old picture.”

goats.jpg

The goats are the “firefighters” of Antiquum Farm in Junction City, Oregon. (Image credit: Antiquum Farm/Stephen Hagen)

Change will take time. Hagen said it’s not a matter of if, but when a wildfire occurs.

“We want to be able to get the fire to move through our forests, not get into those fuel ladders that go up into the canopy and allow a fire to explode and get out of control,” Hagen said.

Get updates to this story at FOXWeather.com.