2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 23rd January 2018

Some long awaited moisture has arrived on farm

General comments

The dry has continued here as it has for much of Southland, however as I write this report, there is an absolute down pour happening that is very long overdue and extremely welcomed and we hope that it amounts to something of significance

The 50:50 mix of PKE and Barley is now being offered to all cows each milking at 1.0kg per cow. Silage in the stack on farm from last season has been introduced to each herd The total supplement being offered (silage, 50:50 PKE/barley mix in shed and PKE in trailers in the paddock) has been calculated to hold the round length at 29 days.

The R2 grazing management on the support block has been revised to maintain a 36 day round by offering 0.5kg/head/day of pasture baleage (on hand) rather than feeding purchased supplement like PKE as previously reported.  PKE is no longer an option as we are now using the trailers on the milking platform.

Critical Targets this week

  • Continue to monitor SCC
  • First pregnancy scan of the whole herd to determine 6 week in calf rate
  • PGG Wrightson to monitor progress on winter crops and take action where required
  • Remove Fodder Beet Bolters from the crop paddocks
  • Full herd BCS assessment

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.


Cows continue to hold production at 1.5kgMS/cow/day.  20 cows that had been identified as having staph aureus have been culled earlier than initially planned due to reduced pasture growing conditions.

Table 1: Herd & Production

Herds on Milking Platform Unit Value
Milkers - 3 in 2 cows 651
Milkers - OAD cows 0
Colostrum cows 0
Springers cows 0
Sick mob (1 x penicillin, In the vat: 2 x lames and 28 x HSCC cows) cows 31
Culls / deaths cows 21
Current Stocking Rate (platform) cows/ha 2.7
Production (to the factory) (19/01/18)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 162,767
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 20,005
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 7,238
Average per cow daily production (last 7 days) kgMS/cow/day 1.5
Per ha production (last 7 days) kgMS/ha 4.1
Other (to the factory)
Protein:Fat Ratio (7-day avg.) % 0.78
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 21.50
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 105,000
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.  Decision rules for Cows of BCS 4 or less are that they can be fed extra supplement in the shed as required by the farm team and be milked OAD but will remain in their allocated herds for research purposes. The concentrate in the shed is a 50:50 mix of PKE and barley.


Average pasture cover continues to decline.

Residuals are holding between 1500 – 1550kgDM/ha, with approx. 7 – 8 kgDM/cow/day of pasture being offered.

Supplements being offered to all cows are:

  • 1.0 kg/cow/milking of PKE/Barley 50:50 mix in the shed;
  • 1.0 kg/cow/day of PKE in the paddock;
  • Remainder being made up of pasture silage to meet the 16 kgDM/cow/day intake target.

Table 2: Feed Offered

Milkers – Pasture offered kgDM/cow/day 7.5
Milkers - Fodder Beet kgDM/cow/day 0
Milkers - Pasture Silage kgDM/cow/day 6
Milkers - Concentrates – 3 in 2 Cows (shed) kgDM/cow/day 1.0 per milking
Milkers - Concentrates – 3 in 2 Cows (pdk) kgDM/cow/day 1.0 per day
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.


The R1 heifers have all been split into mobs of approx. 10 animals and spread evenly across the platform.

The next section of the pasture silage stack has been tested with results expected back soon.

The fodder beet bolters that had appeared in the first year beet crop paddocks and in the paddocks where the beet had been lifted in late spring have been pulled and removed.  Many thanks to the Wrights Bush & Central Pirates Rugby Clubs Senior team the Bush Pirates for completing this mammoth task.  They did a great job in some extremely hot conditions.

Wrights Bush & Central Pirates Rugby Clubs Senior team the Bush Pirates removing fodder beet bolters from the crop paddocks

Table 3: Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Metrics

Pre - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 2700
Post - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 1500
Average Pasture Cover (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha 1771
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 19
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


81 ha received an application of Urea last Tuesday, with another application being planned this week (rainfall independent).

Nitrogen (Urea only)(last 7 days) Unit
Area ha 81
Rate kg/N/ha 25.3
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 18.5

Reproductive Performance


Whole herd pregnancy scan booked in for this week.  This will give us our 6 week in calf rate.

Table 5: Reproduction Metrics

Planned start of Mating (PSM) Unit Target Actual
Mixed Aged Cows Date 29-Oct-17
2016 Born Heifers Date 21-Oct-17
Submission Rate % 90 91
6 Week in-calf rate % 78 TBC
Empty Rate % 10 TBC

Research Update (fortnightly)

What a busy start back to the year. Essential measurements continued over the Christmas holiday break but the tech team have been back in full force since the 8th of Jan.

Monday the 8th saw our first herd test of the year and Thursday the 11th was the first body condition score of the year. Herd testing is now to be monthly while body condition scoring will continue to be fortnightly.

Monday the 15th was the start of the summer measurements for the Forage value index (FVI) trial. The 36 paddocks within this trial are sampled 2-3 days before grazing.

Sampling requires 800 g of pasture to be collected from the paddock, with 200 g for NIRS and 35 g for botanical composition subsample extracted.

Along with physical measurements the team have been busy trying to record and catch up on the events that occurred over the Christmas break.

Research Proposals

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

  • 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.

Find more information here: EXPERIENCED DAIRY FARM ASSISTANT