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How much should I charge for farm sitting?

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  • How much should I charge for farm sitting?

    I want to start a farm sitting business but I'm unsure of how to charge. Should it be a case by case custom quote (if so, how?) or a base fee plus mileage (say $50 flat plus 10 cents a mile?) or what do you all recommend?
    I have extensive experience with dogs and cats and 6 years of experience with my few chickens but I'm new to horses, livestock, etc. I plan to launch in October and read and watch everything I can between now and then to gain more knowledge. I still have to decide on a name, get insurance and so on but I'd like to go ahead and work up a price sheet.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Best to discuss all this with a farm sitter who has been in the business for years ..and perhaps work for the sitter / apprenticeship •

    just saying I would not hire a farm sitter who did not have experience with horses •

    * equine references required

    Good Luck with your new business.

    Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

    Comment


    • #3
      IMHO - if you have no experience with horses are livestock, you're going to have a hard time finding gigs. I know I wouldn't hire someone to farm sit without extensive horse experience. Stick to small animal pet sitting and house sitting.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by scrbear11 View Post
        IMHO - if you have no experience with horses are livestock, you're going to have a hard time finding gigs. I know I wouldn't hire someone to farm sit without extensive horse experience. Stick to small animal pet sitting and house sitting.
        What about small animal sitting? Dogs, cats, chickens, goats, pigs?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by fd4517 View Post

          What about small animal sitting? Dogs, cats, chickens, goats, pigs?
          I don’t know about chickens or pigs, but for dogs and cats it depends on your location, your experience and what you are able to provide. Are you staying overnight? If not, how many times a day would you go by? Do you know how to identify a sick pet? Are you capable of dealing with sick or injured pets (monitoring, medicating, etc)?

          I live in a very high-cost area, and for dog/cat I pay about $75 (I think) for regular sitting (stay overnight), and $100 for a vet tech (also overnight). Some people charge extra for multiple pets and others don’t. I would never pay for someone to travel to me, and I really would strongly prefer someone to stay vs visit.

          I wouldn’t hire a pet sitter without references, so if you haven’t pet sat before, I would start by doing some gigs for people you know, and building up references that way. I would also see if your veterinarian would be willing to be a reference.

          While I have always full boarded, I agree that I wouldn’t let anyone take care of my horses (if I currently had them and kept them at home) who didn’t have years under the belt.

          Hope that helps!

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with one of the other posters, it will be hard to find work without the experience. I think you should do price quote by quote. I know some farms have strict feeding schedules which requires you to adjust schedule to that. Others may just give you a window when you can show up.

            I don't really see a point to do the mileage thing. Just add some extra money onto your base rate. 10 cents a mile is nothing anyway. If you think about it if you were to drive 50 miles it would only be a extra 5.00. Just add that on.

            I am pretty new to the equine world. I read all day long about horses, but without the hands on experience, your learning curve will be short.

            Comment


            • #7
              Without a location, this is a "how long is a piece of string" question. Even with it, it's tough to answer because the job can be so different farm to farm. Asking on your local pet Facebook group might give you more relevant answers, or just do a search there.

              Add me to the list who would absolutely not consider using anyone without equine experience. They are unique animals that can be stubbornly suicidal and even the best animal can have a bad day and be challenging to handle. It's hard enough to leave...but impossible unless the sitter knows what a colic and founder look like, how best to handle something ugly like a horse trying to rip a leg off, or what to do if a horse gets loose and doesn't want to be caught. So much can go wrong. They can also HURT YOU, badly. If you're interested in getting some horse experience so you can farm sit, working at a boarding barn doing stalls and such could be a good way to learn.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                Without a location, this is a "how long is a piece of string" question. Even with it, it's tough to answer because the job can be so different farm to farm. Asking on your local pet Facebook group might give you more relevant answers, or just do a search there.

                Add me to the list who would absolutely not consider using anyone without equine experience. They are unique animals that can be stubbornly suicidal and even the best animal can have a bad day and be challenging to handle. It's hard enough to leave...but impossible unless the sitter knows what a colic and founder look like, how best to handle something ugly like a horse trying to rip a leg off, or what to do if a horse gets loose and doesn't want to be caught. So much can go wrong. They can also HURT YOU, badly. If you're interested in getting some horse experience so you can farm sit, working at a boarding barn doing stalls and such could be a good way to learn.

                It looks like I need to only advertise sitting services for pets, chickens and other small farm animals like goats, pigs, ducks, etc until I can gain experience with horses and cows. Will I be cutting myself off from a lot of potential clients by only focusing on smaller animals? I live in Alabama btw.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by fd4517 View Post
                  It looks like I need to only advertise sitting services for pets, chickens and other small farm animals like goats, pigs, ducks, etc until I can gain experience with horses and cows. Will I be cutting myself off from a lot of potential clients by only focusing on smaller animals? I live in Alabama btw.
                  That seems wise. And tough to tell--just how many people have large livestock in your area? If you're fairly suburban, limiting your business to small animals might make sense long term, as it can be easy to fill a book of business with those clients, and the work is generally easier than with large animals.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Simkie View Post

                    That seems wise. And tough to tell--just how many people have large livestock in your area? If you're fairly suburban, limiting your business to small animals might make sense long term, as it can be easy to fill a book of business with those clients, and the work is generally easier than with large animals.
                    I'm not sure about my area as far as livestock. I know I see them everywhere, including right down the road (a neighbor I don't know has cows and horses). My area is very rural but does have subdivisions scattered here and there and a lot of clumps of neighborhoods. Maybe only advertising for small animals won't prevent me from building a business. Also, can I get feedback on the pricing structure I'm considering?
                    - $30/day up to 24 animals
                    - $45/day for 24-40 animals
                    - $60/day for 40+ animals

                    Each price would be all inclusive as far as what work needs to be done. If they require me to stay over, I plan to charge $80/night. Thoughts?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by fd4517 View Post
                      Also, can I get feedback on the pricing structure I'm considering?
                      - $30/day up to 24 animals
                      - $45/day for 24-40 animals
                      - $60/day for 40+ animals

                      Each price would be all inclusive as far as what work needs to be done. If they require me to stay over, I plan to charge $80/night. Thoughts?
                      Is this how other sitters in the area structure their pricing, and in the same ballpark as what they charge?

                      You might want to consider basing your rates on a combo of number of visits required per day, tasks needed, and number of animals.

                      Stopping in once a day to check on three kitties who free feed dry food and just need their box cleaned is a LOT different than visiting four times a day for three young dogs that all need walks, feeding, and playtime. Those two clients probably should not be paying the same rate.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Simkie View Post

                        Is this how other sitters in the area structure their pricing, and in the same ballpark as what they charge?

                        You might want to consider basing your rates on a combo of number of visits required per day, tasks needed, and number of animals.

                        Stopping in once a day to check on three kitties who free feed dry food and just need their box cleaned is a LOT different than visiting four times a day for three young dogs that all need walks, feeding, and playtime. Those two clients probably should not be paying the same rate.
                        That's a very good point. The dog client would absolutely need to pay more than the one with kittens. Back to square one. But I am thankful you pointed that out. I guess I need to create a price sheet based on every scenario I can think of; number of animals, number of visits, work to be done like you said and have it memorized so I can easily quote a potential. As far as comparing to others in my area, I don't think there is anyone else. At least no one pulls up on Google but maybe they do it through word of mouth? I'm hoping there's a market for my services in my area and I can build a full time, successful business.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I’m in a somewhat high COL area, but our cat sitter charges us $15/visit to do the daily basics - food, water, litter. If she spends more than 10 min at the house per visit, I’d be shocked. (Worth every penny, though!). She also offers additional services like playtime/petting for additional cost.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by fd4517 View Post

                            What about small animal sitting? Dogs, cats, chickens, goats, pigs?
                            If you don't have actual experience in caring for goats , chickens, cows and pigs I wouldn't do those either( i have all those animals too).

                            Farm sitting and caring for peoples pets and livestock is a huge responsibility. To be in business I would expect any farm sitter I used to be proficient in handling (caring for) all the animals I entrust into their care. Knowing when a particular animal is " off " is extremely important.

                            Probably why I don't get away.

                            You might be better off staying with dogs, cats , birds etc.. Not include any livestock until you can somehow get experience.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              my daughter who is a vet tech and high school teacher is in demand for dog setting...we have even considered this since her client base is expanding... the pay?

                              She has one client who "oh I will pay you what it would cost board my darling pooches "... take care my three dogs for seven days; $1,500

                              and I thought horse people were crazy
                              Not responsible for typographical errors.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by fd4517 View Post
                                I want to start a farm sitting business but I'm unsure of how to charge. Should it be a case by case custom quote (if so, how?) or a base fee plus mileage (say $50 flat plus 10 cents a mile?) or what do you all recommend?
                                I have extensive experience with dogs and cats and 6 years of experience with my few chickens but I'm new to horses, livestock, etc. I plan to launch in October and read and watch everything I can between now and then to gain more knowledge. I still have to decide on a name, get insurance and so on but I'd like to go ahead and work up a price sheet.

                                Thanks!
                                You may consider checking with local vet clinics and see if they need an aide.
                                There you will mostly clean cages and stalls if they have large animals and do routine stuff.
                                You will also get to watch and help with the care of the animals and get to know owners that may just. become your clients.

                                That would give you the advantage of really knowing more about animals and so being able to do a better job of babysitting them later, as you then start that business with the real expertise it will require on how to handle and care for those animals best.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Very glad you mentioned insurance in your first post! I am actually *training* a farm sitter who doesn't really have horse experience because she is the only one I could find who had at least fed an equine before (donkey) and who is insured!

                                  I only have one old retired horse here, so it's different than if she had to actually _handle_ any horses. I just need her to make sure he is right side up, throw hay and soak his pellets. If anything seems wrong there are neighbors with horses that she can summon to evaluate the situation.

                                  As far as costs, I'm in rural Georgia so probably similar and paying $45/visit for the horse, dog, cats and two sets of chickens. She's here for an hour or less twice a day.

                                  Your charges should be dependent on the number of tasks and time, plus mileage. Don't under price yourself! For farm owners, being able to leave and not worry (much) is nearly priceless.
                                  --
                                  Wendy
                                  ... and Patrick

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    We pay 60$ a night to stay in our house, look after two dogs (fenced back yard, so no walking) and feeding four horses twice a day, no mucking. Horses go right into stalls that open onto pasture, so no leading from paddocks or pasture needed. Horses stay in if there is bad weather, but we generally have someone who mucks out for us. The only glitch I've had is their surprise that we don't have a microwave. The good ones wash and change the sheets on the guest bed where they stayed, bless them.

                                    Have to add that my step daughter was dog sitting for an older dachshund in Atlanta (Buckhead area) and was payed 100$ a night plus she had to go and get roasted chicken or turkey from the OK Cafe every night for that dog!

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