2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 3rd September 2020

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

*If you are struggling to view the tables and wedges you can download the pdf here

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 3/09/2020 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 3rd Sept 2020  Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Calved milking 63% 64% 62% 63%
Calved colostrum 5% 4% 7% 6%
Springers 20% 20% 16% 15%
Dries on crop 0% 0% 15% 16%
Dries on grass 12% 13% 0% 0%

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 3/09/2020

Soil temp (C) 6.8
Rainfall (mm) 30
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Dry cows on crop 9.5 crop + 3 baleage
DCP 50 g/cow/d
Springers 8 pasture + 2.5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d
8 pasture + 2.5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d + DCP 100 g/cow/d
Colostrums 15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 100 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 150 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
Milkers 17-18kg DM pasture 17-18kg DM pasture

Key Decisions: this week

  • With the appearance of daffodil’s and a dumping of snow just like that we have entered spring! Our soil temperatures show an average of 6.8 degrees and we were lucky enough to not receive any snow at the farm.
  • Our APC for each farmlet continues to track 200-300kg DM/ha above target cover (ranging between 2341kg DM/ha- 2476kg DM/ha) and we will manage this extra cover in accordance with the spring rotation planner. Because our target APC line is tracking above the SRP target line we have the flexibility to open up to a bigger area and increase the speed of our round length without jeopardising pasture availability going forward. We need to get on top of our high covers early otherwise it will impact on second round quality and growth. If you find your APC is tracking below your SRP target line then you would need to slow down your rotation length and fill the feed deficit with supplement until your APC is back on track. You can read more about SRP here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/pasture-management/feed-wedges-and-rotation-planners/spring-rotation-planner/tips-for-using-the-srp/
  • The Std milking mobs will be offered 1.45 ha/day (x4, 12 hour grazings/pdk) and the LI milking mobs 1.2 ha/day (x5, 12 hour grazings/pdk), the difference being driven by mob size.
  • The milkers continue to be on just pasture and the springers receiving pasture and baleage.
  • The area allocated to the springers will be increased from 20 to 30m2 plus baleage as we still have 1.5 springer paddocks for each of the kale and fodder beet springers to graze through. Having been set up as springer paddocks the quality is not suitable for milking cows.
  • All herds are approximately 70% calved and across the whole farm we have only x200 total left to calve and have nearly reached our target replacements. In the graph below you can see the calving rates of the herds and how they have tracked. The LI FB (yellow) herd got off to a rapid start but have slow through the later part of August.
  • From the whole herd BCS on Monday and daily camera assessments during milking we will be identifying at risk cows i.e. those that have fallen below BCS 4.5, have had heath issues or have had rapid BCS/weight loss and taking proactive action. For cows in the kale systems they will priority feed with inshed feeding; OAD milking will be the first intervention for cows in the FB herds. If the cow is not recovering or severely at risk she will be put back into the colostrum mob and onto OAD with inshed feeding (regardless of whether she is a kale or FB cow). If the cow is a heifer and not recovering well post-calving we will keep her on OAD for longer.

Figure 2: Calving rates of herds


  • To minimise the damage to paddocks and allow for easy back fencing the farm team are splitting paddocks up the middle and utilising the front and back gates to the paddocks. In the image below you can see the challenges of achieving consistent residuals across the paddock in dry vs. wet conditions.

Figure 2: Dry vs. wet conditions and how they impact residuals


  • Although we are still finishing up with winter 2020 our focus over the next week will be around decision making for next year’s crop paddocks in light of the Essential Fresh Water requirements for winter 2021. Considerations will be whether the paddocks we choose to crop can be successfully grazed over winter while adhering to <50% of the paddock with pugging less than 5cm depth and no pugging greater than 20 cm except around fixed structures i.e. water troughs and gateways.

General Notes:

  • We planted 1.6ha of catch-crop oats at the support block using the Spader machine. It was commented on how fluffy and fine the seed bed was once the spader had been through. The pictures below indicate the soil surface conditions before and after the cultivation.

Figures 3 a-c: Soil conditions in the kale paddock before (top) and after (bottom) the Spader had been through


  • Some of our LI kale milkers were a bit cheeky this week and managed to go for a holiday, skipping a milking and joining LI FB farmlet. By the time the afternoon milking came around you could tell they regretted the decision due to very full udders needing to be milked.
  • With no more kale crop left on the farm the late kale mob is cleaning up behind the milkers or being sent back to previously grazed springer paddocks where they receive baleage and PKE. The late kale cows are not in as good BCS as we would have expected based
  • All cows were BCS on Monday and we were surprised to see how many Std. Kale lates were below BCS 5 (Figure 4) especially based on their feeding levels and behaviour in the last kale paddocks. Stems of the crop in the Std Kale farmlet started getting quite woody towards the end, potentially impacting on quality. Hopefully the addition of PKE to their diet will help pick them back up a bit more before calving.
Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
BCS – dries 4.8 5.1 5.3 5.3
BCS Springers 5.1 5.2 5.2 5.2
BCS Milkers 4.8 4.8 4.8 4.8
Dries % less than BCS 5.0 30% 13% 6% 3%
Milkers % Less than BCS 4.5 1.5% 3% 0% 0%

Figure 4: BCS results each farmlet


  • Each week the milk graph steadily increases and you can see below the per cow milk production which is averaging around 1.9kg MS/cow.

Figure 5: Herd daily milk solids production


  • Our R2s have left the support block and headed off to the graziers. They received 2ml of a short acting selenium before departing and are booked in for statures, weighing, copper boluses and a long acting selenium injection at the end of September.
  • Our older replacement calves will receive their first weigh, have samples collected for DNA determination, and will be vaccinated next week and will be put outside to start their fence training.  In the next 2-3 weeks they will start heading over to the support block.

Animal Health

  • We metri-checked the first group of cows yesterday (calved 2-4 weeks) and 13% were treated. Numbers were similar between the farmlets with x9-10 cows in each. Today we have painted the next batch of cows for checking in a different colour.
  • We are getting a range of animal health issues across the herds so have had the vet out to assess all animals that we are concerned about. Lameness continues to be a challenge across the herds.
  • We took bloods from a range of FB cows as they came off crop and into the springer mob last week. Their P levels ranged from 0.7-1 mmol/L (minimum target is 1.3) indicating our DCP supplementation to the dries on crop is not being effective. Phosphorus concentrations in the milkers were fine indicating that our mineral supplementation to the springers and colostrums is being effective. Also the move to a full pasture diet will have increased the daily P intake. Our down cow numbers have reduced since fixing the mineral spreader and increasing the DCP supplementation to the springers and colostrums to 150 g/cow/day.
  • We have had a couple of cases of mastitis and are going to look back on our records to see if they are reoffending from winter mastitis and if they were teat seal only.
  • A sample of x20 R2s had BVD bloods taken last week. Results came back with no exposure.
  • X2 cows will leave on the truck this week due to x1 being empty and the other not coming into milk after a clinical acidosis event 2 weeks ago.

People Management and Visitors

  • Under Covid Level 2 restrictions visitors to the farm are being minimised to only those required for the farm activities and for research purposes. 

Research on-farm

  • Current research on farm is focusing on the implementation of the farm systems and getting these herds set up for the season.
  • Analysis of the data collected during the winter behaviour monitoring trial is on-going
  • All the Forage Value Index paddocks are having a sample taken for quality before their first grazing and 25 tillers in each paddock will be assessed for leaf stage as well. 

General Farm Systems Information

The project farm systems comparison has been designed to better understand crop-based wintering in relation to consequences for environmental impact and profit

  • The four herds are split evenly on age, BW / PW, calving date and breed to ensure the herds are as even as possible.
  • Each herd allocated a farmlet corresponding to their herd tag colour Green, Blue, Yellow and Pink.
  • Farmlets have paddocks allocated so each herd has equal walking distance from the shed and the same proportion of each soil type and equal proportions of pastures in the FVI trial (forage value trial – refer web site section on research).

Research Proposals

The SDH welcome research proposals for any sampling or research on the SDH, these are assessed by the Research Advisory Committee (RAC). Just send your request or ask for information via louise.cook@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: