Sheep grazing in vineyards

If you use sheep to pluck leaves from plants in your vineyard, MPI recommends precautions for avoiding risks associated with residues.

Using sheep to pluck leaves

Sheep have been used for vineyard leaf-plucking for some years now. However, an increase in the practice could increase residue risks and threaten trade. MPI asks graziers, farmers, and vineyard owners and operators to take a cautious and responsible approach by following our recommendations.

Why is this important?

International trade

Trading partners could close their markets. Many trading partners have 'no detectable residues' as their testing limit. If any trace was found and a market closed, this could impose significant costs on New Zealand exporters.

Chemical sprays and residues

MPI believes there is not enough information about sprays and chemicals typically used in vineyards for graziers to fully manage the potential risks. MPI also believes grape vine leaves pose different risks. Chemicals registered recently may have grazing statements on them advising withholding periods or slaughter intervals, but these usually relate to the grazing of pasture. Other claims made on labels typically relate to pasture, not grape vine leaves.

Who's legally responsible?

Graziers and farmers remain legally responsible for sheep used for leaf-plucking with regard to animal health, animal welfare, and residues.


  1. Identify all sheep used for leaf-plucking.
  2. Withhold from slaughter or sale all sheep used for leaf-plucking for at least six months from either the time of the last known spray or from when the animals were removed from the vines, whichever is earlier.
  3. Vineyard owners keep spray diaries to assist graziers and to provide a means for tracing (to confirm or otherwise) should a marketplace residue issue arise.
  4. Do not use lambs for leaf-plucking.
  5. Graziers and vineyard owners and operators should work together to implement the above.
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