2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 17th January 2018

Story of the last month, rain forecast but not arriving!

General comments

The dry continues and whilst we may not be as dry as some areas, we are still dry for Wallacetown.

The farm team have made the move to milking 3 in 2 (5am, 5pm and 11am next day). The BCS last week showed little change in the average for the herd at 4.6, however with the feed pressure on, we are focused on protecting their condition. A week of maximum temperatures at 30 °C or above has seen pasture covers dropping almost 200kgDM/ha a week.

The 50:50 mix of PKE and Barley is now being offered to all cows each milking at 1.5kg per cow. Last season’s lower quality silage already on farm is being introduced to each herd and we hope that this combined with the in-shed feeding means we can hold the round length at 29 days.

PKE will start to be offered to the R2 heifers as a supplement to their pasture diet this week in trailers.

Critical Targets this week

  • Build silage supplement levels up to meet the shortfall in pasture offered
  • Calibration of meal feeding system
  • Support DairyNZ’s Summer Dry Field day 18th January
  • Monitor SCC in the herds as we expect this to lift from the current average of 106,000 now that we are on a 3 in 2 milking frequency

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 –

Milking Assessment results

  • Machine check completed
  • Teat spray checked for concentration and coverage
  • Hygiene – tails trimmed to prevent poor hygiene
  • 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.

Table 1: Herd & Production

Herds on Milking Platform Unit Value
Milkers - TAD cows 659
Milkers - OAD cows
Colostrum cows
Springers cows
Sick mob (Staph, lame etc – approx. half in vat) cows 14
Culls / deaths cows 0
Current Stocking Rate (platform) cows/ha 2.7
Production (to the factory) (21/11/17)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 155,531
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 12,768
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 13,363
Average per cow daily production (last 7 days) kgMS/cow/day 1.5
Per ha production (last 7 days) kgMS/ha 3.75
Other (to the factory)
Protein:Fat Ratio (7-day avg.) % 0.79
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 24.71
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 106,000
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.


Average pasture cover continues to drop with residuals sitting at 1500 – 1600kgDM/ha

All cows are offered 1.5kg/c/milking PKE/Barley 50:50 mix.

We have decided that the bulk of supplement required to maintain round speed requires the silage from last season. Whilst this is of a poorer quality it is hoped that combined with the high to medium quality in-shed PKE/Barley mix it won’t have a severe impact on production, but we do expect that production might drop further.

Table 2: Feed Offered

Milkers – Pasture offered kgDM/cow/day 12
Milkers - Fodder Beet kgDM/cow/day 0
Milkers - Pasture Silage kgDM/cow/day 4
Milkers - Concentrates - TAD Cows kgDM/cow/day 1.5 per milking
Milkers - Concentrates - OAD Cows kgDM/cow/day 0

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.


All the R1 heifers remain on the platform until the stock yards are built on the young stock block.

Weed control / fodder beet bolter control

  • Weeds in young grass sprayed this week
  • Some wild turnip is appearing in our crop paddocks which is getting pulled every second week when identified
  • We are seeing fodder beet bolters starting to appear in the first year beet crop paddocks which will be pulled just like the wild turnip
  • We also have fodder beet bolters in paddocks that were in beet and lifted late spring. Some of that area is now in kale and we hoped that a spray that was used to control weeds in the kale would kill the beet bolters. It has had an effect but it has not killed the bolters, so the decision has been made to pull all the rouge beet plants and remove them from the paddock to avoid any seed contamination for the future.

Table 3: Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Metrics

Pre - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 2400
Post - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 1500
Average Pasture Cover (avg. over 4) kgDM/ha 1975
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 29
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 29
Area Available for grazing (milkers) ha 253
Regrassing Area (out of rotation) ha 0
Baleage/Silage Area (out of rotation) ha 0
Crop Area (out of rotation) ha 46
Aeration Area ha 0.0
Total platform effective ha 300
Young Stock (not included in rotation) ha 29.0

Table 4: Fertiliser & Nitrogen Metrics

Standing plan over dry period to apply 25 units of N over 1/3 of the platform with rain

Nitrogen (Urea only)(last 7 days) Unit
Area – Crop ha 0
Rate – Urea kg/N/ha 0
Fertiliser (last 7 days) Unit
Area ha 0
Rate kg/ha 0
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 0
Soil Temp (7-day average) @10am °C 18

Reproductive Performance


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


Bulls were taken out of both the R2’s and the cows on the 12th January (this would mean we would be expecting the 21st October as the last day of calving)

Table 5: Reproduction Metrics

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

Research Update (fortnightly)

No update this week.


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:


People Management

  • We welcome Ashlee Kidd as our newest team member as a junior assistant, great to have her on the team
  • Advertising continues for another permanent employee to lift our team to 5 permanent farm staff for the rest of this season and into the next.