Gypsy Day

Today is Gypsy Day. This is an important day for dairy farmers. It is a day when farms and cows are bought and sold. It is also the day when herds of cows are moved from one farm to another. Usually, the herd of cows belongs to a sharemilker who is taking his cows to a new farm. If the new farm is nearby and on a rural road, the farmer may walk his cows to the new farm. If the new farm is too far away, or if the herd is bigger than 500 cows, the animals travel by truck.

A sharemilker is a farmer who owns the cows and signs a contract with a farm owner to use the land and the milking machines. There are different arrangements, but often it is a 50 – 50 agreement. The sharemilker keeps 50% of the profits from selling the milk and the farm owner gets the other 50%. Sharemilking is very common in New Zealand. Usually the sharemilker is young and energetic. It is a good way for a young farmer to save money to buy a farm in the future. For an older farm owner, it is also a good arrangement. He, or she, has an income from the farm without long hours of work.

If the sharemilker has a family, the whole family moves on Gypsy Day. The car and tractor are loaded with furniture and all the family’s possessions. Perhaps they look like gypsies. The following day, the children go to a new school.

Note: Often sharemilkers are a couple, for example a husband and wife.

Click here to see cows on the move.


• gypsy – a person who lives in a caravan or wagon and travels from place to place
• herd of cows – a group of cows (compare: flock of sheep)
• rural road – not a main highway

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