2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 21th December 2017

Merry Christmas to all, enjoy the rain and we will be back with Hub notes in a fortnight.

Weekly update on face book next week

General comments

More rain this week was welcome and will give the crops a good boost leading into Christmas. Pasture growth is steady at about demand and our new grass area has had its first grazing with young stock, followed by a top.

The fodder beet has had a muchneeded weed spray, and we are waiting for the right conditions to spray for weeds in the kale.

We have noticed multiple seed strike in the kale – the first strike occurred late November (about 2 weeks after planting) but this has been followed by a big delay (moisture related?) and now we have observed lots of young plants just emerging.

The high weed burden means our kale crops are not looking great. We have an assessment planned with PGG Wrightson next week and will decide after that if any further action is required.

The first round of interviews has been completed for the farm manager position, with some very strong contenders.

Critical Targets this week

  • Spray weeds in kale as soon as possible
  • Plan the work load and rostering for a few quiet days for staff over the Holiday Period
  • Assess the historic SCC information on cows infected with Staph and develop a plan for the older cows with poor SCC history that are unlikely to recover from Staph this season
  • Do a full check on the milking plant after an alert for high Coliforms

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, 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.

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 2.7
Production (to the factory) (21/11/17)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 129,355
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 18,271
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 7,021
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.) % 0.81
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 20.33
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 109,000
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.

  • With some Staph cows out of each herd numbers have changed so a recalculation has been done and pre-graze covers bought down to 2900kgDM/ha. This approach will be assessed over the next 10 days and pastures above this cover will be dropped out for conservation if pasture growth exceeds demand.
  • Target round length will now drop to 27 days with the return of the new grass paddocks to the rotation and area will be removed as required for conservation

Table 3: Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Metrics

Pre - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 2900
Post - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 1600
Average Pasture Cover (avg. over 4) kgDM/ha 2373
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 57
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 27
Area Available for grazing (milkers) ha 253
Regrassing Area (out of rotation) ha
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

Table 4: Fertiliser & Nitrogen Metrics

Nitrogen (Urea only)(last 7 days) Unit
Area ha 50
Rate kgN/ha 25
Fertiliser (last 7 days) Unit
Area ha 0
Rate kg/ha -
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 27
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 running with the herds. 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 remainder of the R2 heifers are due to be weighed and drenched this week

Research Update (fortnightly)

APOLOGIES: Please note the change to the table below; the information reported last week was calculated incorrectly as it included milk production from the previous lactation.

Season to date milk production for each of the winter herds is presented in the table below. There has been a small difference between the treatments in milk solids production, season to date.

Once again, we have completed our fortnightly herd test and body condition scoring, along with weekly pasture metering. The 12th December was our last fortnightly herd test as we move to a monthly herd testing for the rest of the season. The rationale for this change is that we are past the period where winter feeding management is likely to impact on milk production. 

The herd will have a BCS assessment on Friday the 22nd December to provide data to make decisions on light conditioned cows before Christmas.

The Southern Dairy hub is currently participating in a Fonterra-supported project investigating feed quality and milk composition. SDH will be providing samples of various feeds and bulked samples of milk from the same period as the feeds are used. The information will help expand our knowledge of the impacts of various feed types on milk quality.

Over the Christmas period we will be continuing our weekly pasture drives, weekly pasture samples and collection of all other data from our Delpro system.

Have a happy Christmas and wonderful new year


Willis Ritchie

Senior Research Technician at the Southern Dairy Hub- DairyNZ


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:


Kale - Target Fodder beet - Target Kale - High Fodder beet - High
Days in milk 122 124 123 122
MS (kg/cow) 235 242 237 244
Average Fat % 4.65 4.68 4.59 4.68
Average Protein % 3.85 3.87 3.82 3.85

People Management

  • 8:2 & 8:3 roster
  • Time for well earned R&R for a lot of hard work this season so far, thanks team!