Weekly Farm Summary 2nd June 2022

Farm-system impacts of: Kalve vs Fodder beet for winter AND reducing N loss to water by 30%. 

Cows & Milk Analysis

Business Area Current Status
Feed Cows on kale and swedes are fully transitioned onto crop. Cows on fodder beet are up to 7.5 kg DM/cow/day of beet with the rest of the diet comprising baleage.
Heifers in the baleage wintering system are not consuming all their baleage so we are reviewing allocations. Cows on beet are receiving phosphorus supplementation.
Milk Production
People Now that milking is finished the farm team will start taking annual leave to ensure they are rested and refreshed for the new season.
Animals Another 10 culls went this week, so we are down to 30. These have been moved to the support block and will have a predominantly baleage diet until culling.
Environment Our environmental focus has now switched to minimising the environmental risks of our wintering practices. This year all cows will be wintered on the upper terrace well away from any waterways.
Wintering This week we identified the triggers for utilising the buffer areas in our crop paddocks and the management plan for animals in the baleage wintering system during periods of wet weather.
Research BCS assessments will be done on all cows in the next week

Feed

Principles of Pasture Management this week

Feed Quality & Quantity We are observing a range of DM content and potentially quality differences in the baleage being offered in the winter diets. Heifers are struggling to consume their daily baleage allocation so a range of bales will be weighed and the DM determined just in case the bales are bigger than we have estimated
Growth rate Management We have limited options to manage growth rates now that all animals are in their wintering systems. We will continue to assess APC on a fortnightly basis and develop a strategy for spring a little later in the winterFor the Std farmlets (180-190 kg N/ha) we grew 1.7 T DM/ha less than the average of the previous 3 years and for the LI farmlets (50-60 kg N/ha) we grew 1.3 T DM/ha less.

Across the pasture area of the farm this difference equates to a deficit in feed supply of approximately 377000 kg DM which was filled with extra barley:PKE blend for the kale farmlets, PKE for the fodder beet farmlets and lots of baleage for everyone.
Nitrogen Strategy N applications won't start again until soil temperatures are above 7 deg C and rising in spring - likely late August/early September

Table 1: Monthly pasture growth for the Std and LI farmlets for the 2021-22 season

Figure 1: Average monthly growth rate for the 2021-22 season

Wintering

Understanding lying conditions for cattle Average lying times between 9 and 10 hrs/day can be achieved on winter crop paddocks, however these decrease quickly when paddock conditions deteriorate.

Cows can experience periods of reduced lying time during inclement weather and sodden soil conditions.

Prior rainfall and surface water pooling are useful measures to determine if lying time and thus animal welfare are compromised.

To protect the driest area closest to the feed face consider the prevailing weather direction when planning and implementing paddock grazing direction.

Younger, lower social ranking animals in a mob are more likely to have reduced lying time when soil conditions deteriorate.
Triggers for utilising grass breakout areas in crop paddocks Factors we will consider to trigger breakout area use include: current soil conditions, predicted weather, presence/absence of lying bowls, gumboot scores, time in the current conditions.

Hierachy of management changes for crop paddocks during significant weather events:

0 - 24 hours: additional supplement including straw to eat or lay on
24-48 hours: additional supplement plus extra area behind the back fence if at gumboot score 1 or 2
48-72 hours: additional supplement plus open up a grass breakout area early afternoon after feeding
Beyond 72 hours: situation specific so will require discussion

Decision making after 24 hours will occur on a paddock by paddock basis due to the range of crop types, stock class and paddock locations on the farm.

Any breakout areas not moved when cows are grazing the paddock will be saved for use by another mob later in winter if required
Wet weather management baleage wintering paddocks We expect ground conditions in baleage wintering paddocks to hold up better than crop paddocks and there is no breakout area set aside in them.

Hierachy of management changes for crop paddocks during significant weather events:

0-48 hours: same triggers as crop paddocks
48-72 hours: remove bales from the next break and allocate double the area of pasture


Figure 2: Gumboot scoring resource being used to assess crop paddock conditions

Farm-system impacts of: Kale vs Fodder beet for winter
AND Reducing N loss to water by 30%.