Gypsy Day creates opportunities on the farm

Career in agriculture

Over the next couple of months, farm workers around the country will be on the look-out for new opportunities as part of the annual “Gypsy Day” movement.

The concept of Gypsy Day is entrenched in New Zealand dairy farming – it’s all about opportunities to move up in the industry, take on new challenges and look to the future. Gypsy Day is when share milkers, dairy farm assistance workers, farm managers and 2IC workers pack up their belongings – in many cases including the dairy herd – and shift to a new location.

The tradition is an important day in the New Zealand dairy farming calendar – usually linked to 1 June, but watch out any time now for the move. It’s a chance for farm workers to climb the ranks, move on to bigger farms with greater challenges and opportunities, chase better money or just look for a change of location.

As well as the many positive opportunities that an annual day of move and change can present, it also creates plenty of disruption. There’s even talk around the industry at the moment about whether Gypsy Day itself puts a bit too much strain on families and local communities.

It’s certainly a stressful time, especially if the share milker has a herd of cows and has to organise trucking transport and paddocks to hold them to stretch their legs when travelling long distances. We all know moving is hard enough without the added strain of shifting farm equipment like tractors, quad bikes and implements. Not to mention the hardest workers of all: the loyal farm dogs and their accommodation. Then you get to the new farm and you’re faced with setting it all up again. You can only hope the previous tenant hasn’t left the farm in a huge mess with no feed for the arriving cows and a lot more work!

Getting to know the new farm also takes time, you’ve got to learn the quirks of the new water system, cow sheds, paddocks, fencing, fertilizer history and all that goes with it. Then you’ll be hoping the new boss is a good one, otherwise you’re left with the “why did we move” conversation over breakfast.

There are plenty of opportunities and a fair amount of challenges linked to our annual Gypsy Day. So, if you see a harassed looking farmer towing a trailer full of gear in the next couple of months – give them a wave and a smile and wish them well on the move!