2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 14th December 2017

Hub car park development on tanker track turn around

General comments

Rain fall last week was18mm over 7 days which was welcome. Pasture growth is steady at about demand and our new grass area is due back in the round which will alleviate feed concerns but more rainfall would be welcome before Christmas.

Bulls are working and have learnt to remain behind in the paddock for the cows to return to after milking The farm team are using this standard approach to ensure there is a routine for the bulls.

Weed control is required in our crop paddocks as the relatively dry conditions have resulted in significant weed growth. Calves are being used for the first grazing of young grass to nip it off followed with post graze topping to drop the weeds. Assessment is required after this to determine if a spray out for weeds is required,

Pastures have started seeding again this week so post graze topping and /or some grazing with our R2 heifers is helping manage residuals which are lifting if we don’t intervene.

The lower terrace is again looking N deficient – looking to confirm our approach on N applications within Ravensdown to support the investment in new pastures from last autumn.

Staph Aureus has been identified in approximately 40 cows at The Hub. A high bulk SCC and cows not reacting quickly to treatment encouraged investigation leading to this diagnosis. Infected cows have drafted out and are being milked last to prevent the spread of this infection.

Vet South has completed a Milking assessment and have provided a mastitis treatment and management plan for the team to follow. RMT tests confirm which cows have clinical mastitis

Refer to the stock section for more information and treatment plan.

Applications have been received for the Farm managers position which closed on 15th December 17

A big welcome to our newest employee Ashlee Kidd who is due to start with us mid-January, we look forward to having her on the team!

Crime prevention! As previously reported, One of our 2-wheel Suzuki bikes was stolen at lunchtime, however luck was on our side, the bike was fitted with a GPS unit so with Police assistance it has been recovered.  A good reminder at this time of year to be vigilant and for us to refresh our security policy!

Critical Targets this week

  • Investigate options for reliable water supply on run off, current system not delivering enough water when under pressure
  • Manage residuals on a paddock by paddock basis using topping after grazing (to remove seed head), removal from the round for baleage if we have surplus feed, use of R2 heifer grazing pressure
  • Weigh the R2 heifers, drench
  • Get on top of weed control under fence lines and in the crop paddocks and on the lanes before Christmas

Herd & Production

Four herds split evenly on age, BW / PW and on the winter crop trial treatment groups 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).

Staph Aureus has been identified in approximately 40 cows at The Hub. A high bulk SCC and cows not reacting quickly to treatment encouraged investigation leading to this diagnosis. Infected cows have drafted out and are being milked last to prevent the spread of this infection.

Vet South has completed a ‘Milking Assessment’ and have provided a mastitis treatment and management plan for the team to follow. RMT tests confirm which cows have clinical mastitis and these cows are kept out of the vat whilst clean cows are milked into the vat. This has lifted bulk SCC from 98,000 to 120,000 approximately.

The treatment plan so far is –

  • Gather historic data where possible on SCC from previous years to help assess culling decisions for the end of the season
  • Assess cows on a weekly basis and consider culling on age, udder conformation, SCC, clinical mastitis if no chance of improvement
  • Keep separate from the rest of the herd till the end of the season to prevent further spread
  • Monitor for further cases in the rest of the herd
  • Keep hygiene as a top priority, gloves when milking, teat spray, plant wash

Milking Assessment results

  • Machine check completed, no vacuum issues
  • Some cups were twisted when cows were being milked – could have resulted in un-even milk out. Team ensuring rubberwear kept hanging correctly at milking.
  • Teat spray appears to be getting good coverage
  • Test done on teat spray concentration, all good
  • Hygiene – some cows had dirty tails these have been trimmed to prevent poor hygiene
  • More leg bands for all 3-titters to avoid cupping blind quarters
  • Check for stray voltage to be completed as some cows appeared unsettled when the cups were removed
  • Plan a culling guide and dry cow strategy with Sally at Vet South to eliminate the problem at the end of the season.

Weekly update

  • BCS done fortnightly identifies animals BCS 4 and under to add to the OAD list. These animals remain in their herds to maintain research comparisons and walk to the shed twice a day but are milked just in the morning. The feed table shows the level of extra feeding they are offered in shed to manage BCS.

Table 1: Herd & Production

Herds on Milking Platform Unit Value
Milkers - TAD cows 569
Milkers - OAD cows 59
Colostrum cows
Springers cows
Sick mob (Not in vat) cows 59
Culls cows 1
Current Stocking Rate (platform) cows/ha 3.0
Production (to the factory) (21/11/17)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 122,283
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 11,199
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 7,126
Average per cow daily production (last 7 days) kgMS/cow/day 1.60
Per ha production (last 7 days) kgMS/ha 4.8
Other (to the factory)
Protein:Fat Ratio (7-day avg.) % 0.84
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 20.99
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 107,000
Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) A
Fonterra 17/18 Forecast - as at 27 July 17 $/kgMS $6.40

Feed Management

The four herds are to remain on their allocated farmlets at all times. The 2017/18 season aim is to feed all cows in a similar manner all season. Any differences to be recorded. OAD (BCS of 4 or less) cows can be fed extra supplement in the shed as required by the farm team but will remain with their allocated herds for research purposes. Concentrate in shed is a 50:50 mix of PKE and barley.

Table 2: Feed Offered

Milkers – Pasture offered kgDM/cow/day 18
Milkers - Fodder Beet kgDM/cow/day 0
Milkers - Pasture Silage kgDM/cow/day 0.00
Milkers - Concentrates - TAD Cows kgDM/cow/day 0.00
Milkers - Concentrates - OAD Cows kgDM/cow/day 1.5

Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Management

Total area is 327ha(eff), 32.5ha(eff) young stock block and 294ha(eff) platform. Winter crop is grown on both blocks for all stock. Crop rotation is two years in crop then re-grass. PGG Wrightson grass cultivars used are Rely, Platform and Excess, all diploids. Where target residuals are missed, topping after grazing is the tool the farm team use as needed.

  • Manage residuals paddock by paddock
  • Top weeds in young grass and graze with calves first time until we are confident cows can graze without pulling plants out
  • Consider harvesting longer paddocks for supplement

Table 3: Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Metrics

Pre - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 3100
Post - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 1600
Average Pasture Cover (avg. over 4) kgDM/ha 2597
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 55
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 30
Area Available for grazing (milkers) ha 233
Regrassing Area (out of rotation) ha 20.3
Baleage/Silage Area (out of rotation) ha 0
Crop Area (out of rotation) ha 46.4
Aeration Area ha 0.0
Total platform effective ha 300.0
Young Stock (not included in rotation) ha 29.0

Fertiliser & Nitrogen

Whole farm “spring boost fertiliser” (as per Ravensdown recommended Agronomy Plan) will be applied weekly following the cows.

37 15 15 13

Table 4: Fertiliser & Nitrogen Metrics

Nitrogen (Urea only)(last 7 days) Unit
Area ha
Rate kgN/ha
Total Nitrogen applied to date kgN/ha
Fertiliser (last 7 days) Unit
Area ha
Rate kg/ha
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 18
Soil Temp (7-day average) @10am °C 17.4

Reproductive Performance


  • 90% submission rate 3 weeks) (91% achieved)
  • 78% 6-week in calf rate (Sitting on 68% after 3 weeks)

The Hereford bulls are on farm ready to go, we require 2 bulls for each herd, plus two for each herd to swap around and two bulls for the sick herd. Herefords are chosen as they give The Hub –

  • A clear indication of the progeny’s parentage
  • A marketable and saleable bull or heifer calf

Table 5: Reproduction Metrics

Planned start of Mating (PSM) Unit
Mixed Aged Cows Date 29-Oct-17
2016 Born Heifers Date 21-Oct-17

Young Stock Management

  • The R1 heifers were weighed averaging 125kgLW.  The range was 90 – 150kg.  They have been split into two mobs.  The lighter of the two mobs (<125kg) will be managed with preferential feeding.
  • 50% of the R2 heifers have been weighed as they were already on the milking platform, whilst the other half will be returning to the milking platform next to be weighed as there are no yards at the youngstock block.

R2 heifers being weighed over the scales at the cowshed

Research Update (fortnightly)

BCS test due next week, herd test completed this week

Season to date milk production for each of the winter herds is presented in the table below. There has been no difference between the treatments in milk solids production, season to date.


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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link:


Days in milk Average MS/cow season to date Average MS/cow/day season to date
High Fodder beet 198 340 1.78
Target Fodder beet 199 335 1.74
High Kale 200 333 1.73
Target Kale 198 340 1.77

People Management

  • 8:2 & 8:3 roster
  • Farm Manager position for applications closed 15th December
  • Ashlee Kidd has accepted a position at The Hub as a junior assistant to start mid-January, welcome Ashlee!