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Can You Use A Cow-Sitter?
Milking cows is a 365 days-ayear job. Or is it?
Not if you get someone to come in and spell you off on chores once in a while, and that's exactly what some dairymen are able to do in Lancaster County, Penn. They're letting a professional "cow-sitter" take over their milking when they have to get away on an emergency, or on a vacation trip.
Dervin Hart, an experienced dairyman, hires out as a milker on farms within 25-30 miles of his home in Manheim, Penn. He goes to the farm and takes over the milking, feeding, cleanup and other chores.
Hart's base rate is $15 per milking, which covers a herd up to 35 cows within a 15 mile radius. Over 15 miles, he charges 25 cents per mile for his travel, and over 35 cows, he charges 20 cents per cow. For example, a 50-cow herd 25 miles away would cost $23 per milking ($15 plus $3 for 15 extra cows, plus $5 for 20 extra miles).
When Hart gets a new client, he likes to go over a day or two in advance to see the operation and discuss the various chore jobs with the owner. Hart milks, feeds calves, beds down young stock and anything else in the milking routine. He will treat mastitis or call a veterinarian when needed. Other emergencies may require telephoning the owner to get instructions.
"The first milking can be a little difficult, but after that it runs smoothly," he says. "Many dairymen are repeat customers and I know their situation. Some'jobs are just one milking, or I have stayed as long as 18 days."
Hart usually milks alone at morning milkings, but he sometimes brings along his wife or a son or daughter to help at evening milking.
Over the three years he has been a "cow-sitter", Hart has built up 20 or 30 regular customers. There's no need to advertise because the word spreads from satisfied customers, he told FARM SHOW.
A bigger working area is not practical, but Hart says, "I would go a long way to do a milking if the owner was willing to pay me for the extra mileage."
"Cow-sitters" could be used in much . greater numbers around the country," says Hart, who has heard of one in Canada, and a Wisconsin high school vocational agriculture class has had such a service going on a small scale for a number of years.
Hart thinks it's a good parttime job, and adds that "It's a good way of keeping up with dairying if you're planning to go into it on your own some day.
For more details, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dervin Hart, Rt. 4, Manheim, Penn. 17545 (ph 717 665-7471).

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1978 - Volume #2, Issue #6