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Weekly Notes - 17th September 2021

It has definitely been a challenging week on farm with 51 mm of rain being recorded. Ensuring cows were well fed and minimising damage to pastures has been a key priority and as such, we decided to put all herds onto OAD milking last Saturday (11 September) for an initial period of 5 days. This allowed more time for the team to supplementary feed out to the four milking herds, 2 springer herds, 2 late dry herds and the colostrums and reduced cow movement in and out of paddocks.

Key Decisions this week:

• A second milking occurred on Tuesday afternoon (14th Sep) to stimulate milk production and hopefully reduce the impact of OAD milking

• Twice-a-day milking resumed on Friday 17th Sep.

• Fodder beet and kale springers are now being run as a single mob with all receiving magnesium and phosphorus supplements

• The last of the fodder beet dry cows on crop were removed on Monday and have joined the late kale dries being fed pasture and baleage

• Fodder beet feeding started to the Std and LI FB herds last Friday and they have been transitioned up to 2.5 kg DM. The current beet was lifted with the beet bucket a week ago so contains a leaf and bulb. We have estimated there is 15-20% soil contamination so this has been factored into the wet weight calculations.

• We completed an inventory of our baleage stocks and compared them against the spring feed budget. All herds have fed more than budgeted but it is worse for the Std and LI FB herds where we haven’t had the luxury of inshed feeding

• To protect pastures we offered more area than the spring rotation plan, especially in wet paddocks where utilisation was low so cows were moved on early. As a result, we will finish our first rotation about a week earlier than planned. With better conditions this week we plan to hold the area and top up with supplement but will increase the area once we hit the second round paddocks

• Based on APC, finishing the first round a week early, pasture damage during grazing in wet conditions and not being prepared to feed more than 2.5 kg DM fodder beet to the milkers due to acidosis risk to cows entering from the colostrum mob each day we made the decision to start feeding 1.5 kg PKE/cow/day to the fodder beet herds to increase the amount of high-quality supplement in their diet

• Nitrogen will be applied by helicopter to any paddocks less than 2100 kg DM/ha that have not already received their first application.

• Colostrum area allocation will be decreased to 80 m2/cow and the cows offered 3 kg DM baleage and 1.5 kg DM inshed feeding to reduce the area they are grazing from paddocks ahead of the milkers

• The next springer draft will be done next Monday and all cows will have a BCS assessment at the same time.

General Notes

• We are down to our last two half paddocks for springers and dry cows; once these are grazed the late calvers will follow the milking herds.

• Amazingly conditions were dry enough yesterday for the beet harvester to get in and harvest the remainder of 2 paddocks that were too wet to finish grazing during winter. We were able to drop wires onto the laneway to reduce traffic in and out of the gateways. The remainder of the beet will be harvested within the next couple of weeks to avoid any quality issues with the plants bolting.

• APC has dropped a lot in the last week as we offered more area and with increasing demand as early calving cows start to hit peak production. We are still tracking OK but pastures are going to be slower to respond after challenging first round grazing conditions so we are still monitoring closely.

• Unsurprisingly milk production took a bit of a hit when we commenced OAD milking. The bigger drop with the Std FB we attribute to insufficient supplement feeding over last weekend.

• We are continuing to get 1-2 metabolic cases per day, predominantly, but not exclusively, in the fodder beet cows within 24 hours of calving. The majority of animals respond quickly and are only treated once. We are discussing our springer management with the vets to see if there is anything we need to change.

• The first round of metrichecking was completed this week with x7 Std Kale, x8 LI kale, x8 Std FB and x8 LI FB cows being metricured.

Click the link below to see this report on our Facebook page