Leisurely trip with cows allows rubbish pick-up

Daniela Matthews (left), Max Proffit and Liz Hodson move stock near Berwick during Gypsy Day...
Daniela Matthews (left), Max Proffit and Liz Hodson move stock near Berwick during Gypsy Day yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Dairy farmers across the country braved the cold yesterday to embark on a yearly stock pilgrimage.

In some areas, they were concerned about the travel and mixing of stock that came with Gypsy Day in the era of Mycoplasma bovis.

Taieri dairy farmer Philip Wilson was not too worried about the  threat of the infection yesterday as he moved a small herd just 3km down the road.

Gypsy Day is when dairy farmers, mostly share-milkers, move cows to other farms for winter grazing.

Mr Wilson, along with family and helpers, herded 15 cows to a runoff on his property from his son’s farm near Berwick. It was an easy job for the team, who moved 120 on Wednesday.

During the slow journey, they filled bags with rubbish they found on the sides of the road.

The frigid conditions were "just a normal start to winter", he said.

On the Taieri most dairy farms were small, so many herds were just moved to runoffs for the winter, he said.

"It’s more economical than to winter them on the dairy farms if your farm is small."

He was grateful to the public for being patient while farmers filled the roads with cows. Last month, the Otago Regional Council re-established "Gypsy Day" as its name for the annual occurrence, pushed by Cr Michael Laws, who thought removing the name had been an act of political correctness.

It was changed from Gypsy Day to Mooving Day last year by then regional council chief executive Peter Bodeker, due to the perceived offence to Romany people.

Mr Wilson said people on the Taieri never called it Gypsy Day.

"We just call it the start of winter."

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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