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

90% Kale sown on the platform 20th November

General comments

Soil temperatures increased last week which has increased pasture growth from 53kgDM/day to 70kgDM/day over the week. Paddocks appear untidy with seed head present in most paddocks at grazing requiring topping to waste after grazing to remove the low quality stalk. Very little waste evident after topping. Farm team identifying any paddocks at 3,300kgDM/ha average cover or over as surplus. Surplus feed is harvested as baleage and is being placed on crop paddocks as it is made assuming crop yields of 12t/ha in Kale (second crop) and 22t/ha of fodder beet.

  • 91% Submission rate achieved in 3 weeks (18% of herd with CIDR’s)
  • Baleage made on platform and young stock block
  • Last fodder beet area planted on the 14th November
  • 90 % of the kale (Regal) planted on platform on the 20th November (one paddock still to do). Young stock area sprayed off ready to plough for kale (Kestrel)
  • Topping behind cows as required

Critical Targets this week

  • Continued focus on identifying cows on heat / paddock checks moving into week 4 of AI
  • Topping behind cows as required to maintain quality for next round
  • Identify paddocks that get to 3,300kg/DM/ha for supplement
  • Monthly H&S meeting

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).

BCS data from the 16 November

15 cows that were on OAD have returned to TAD milking as their BCS has lifted above the minimum of BCS 4. All cow are to remain in their herds unless sick so we manage lighter cows by placing them onto OAD milking and preferiential feeding in the shed.

Table 1: Herd & Production

Herds on Milking Platform Unit Value
Milkers - TAD cows 637
Milkers - OAD cows 38
Colostrum cows
Springers cows
Sick mob (Not in vat) cows 14
Culls cows 2
Current Stocking Rate (platform) cows/ha 3.3
Production (to the factory) (6/11/17)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 97,909
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 21,149
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 7,987
Average per cow daily production (last 7 days) kgMS/cow/day 1.70
Per ha production (last 7 days) kgMS/ha 4.38
Other (to the factory)
Protein:Fat Ratio (7-day avg.) % 0.81
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 18.30
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 173,000
Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) A
Fonterra 17/18 Forecast - as at 27 July 17 $/kgMS $6.75

Feed Management 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.

90 % of Kale ground on platform sown on the 20th November.

Baleage placed on crop paddocks as it is made

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 2439
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 70
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 24
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
Young Stock (not included in rotation) ha 29.0

Old paddock showing different seed head emergence in different cultivars where an original fence line used to be.

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 56
Rate kg/ha 160
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 2.2
Soil Temp (7-day average) @10am °C 13

Reproductive Performance


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

On average 30 cows per day are required to achieve target submission rate.

The calving spread of 17 weeks (spring 2017) means a focus on bringing our later calving cows forward over time.

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

R2 heifers are now all on the young stock block after spending some time on the platform over AB for ease of access to the yards.

R1 heifers are being weaned as they hit 85kgLW and will start being transferred over the river next week. Later born heifers are being fed a mixture of milk from the ‘withheld’ herd and powder to finish them off, along with meal.

Research Update (fortnightly)

Forage Value Index:

Current measurements

Pasture growth recordings, herbage sampling and analysis.

Daily recording of grazing, effluent applications, fertiliser application, urea application, harvest for supplement, topping to waste

Winter Feeding Trial:

Update from research: DairyNZ Senior tech on farm Willis Ritchie

The past fortnight has been busy, including arrivals and departures.

Georgia Phillips, our casual research technician, left on the 31st of October to head home for her lacrosse season. The technician team have missed her presence.

Nicole Hammond, who is a part time research technician and graduate developer within DairyNZ, returned on Monday the 13th of November from her holiday.

Over the past two weeks we have completed our fortnightly herd test and body condition scoring, along with weekly pasture measurements and snip cuts of our forage value index paddocks.

The snips of the forage value index are collected at 1 pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as the FVI paddocks come up for grazing. Samples are sorted for botanical composition before being oven dried. A sample is also collected for quality determination by NIRS (Near InfraRed Spectrometry) and dried before being sent away for analysis.

Regards Willis


Requests to the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) are possible to consider projects just send your request or ask for information via guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link:


People Management

8:2 & 8:3 roster

The farm team have started Lean through DairyNZ requiring fortnightly meetings off farm. A very busy time to be off farm but with a need to develop new systems for everything we do there is no better time to start this.

With the research requirements on the team we are advertising for a new staff member to join us. Normal daily jobs have double the workload here (for example we have 4 herds to get in each day rather than 2) which has placed a strain on the current team who have done a fantastic job.