2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 28th November 2017

Yellow herd ready for the afternoon milking 3pm

General comments

Soil conditions noticeable dryer but does not seem to have impacted pasture growth rates over the last week.

  • 96% Submission rate achieved in 31 days (18% of herd with CIDR’s)
  • Too early to get an accurate estimate of our NRR. Farm team happy with the number of returns to date daily.
  • Last winter crop sown this week on platform and young stock block
  • 23ha identified for baleage as surplus
  • High SCC cows tested via rapid mastitis test (RMT) after concerns the SCC was staying too high. Identified 31 cows with abnormal reactions, samples taken and sent away for analysis. Average SCC has fallen from 170,000 to 96,000
  • Topping behind cows as required

Critical Targets this week

  • Continued focus on identifying return cows on heat / paddock checks moving into week 5 of AI
  • Topping behind cows as required to maintain quality for next round
  • Finishing treatment on high SCC cows and returning to the vat
  • BCS this week
  • Weigh calves

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).

Table 1: Herd & Production

Herds on Milking Platform Unit Value
Milkers - TAD cows 610
Milkers - OAD cows 38
Colostrum cows
Springers cows
Sick mob (Not in vat) cows 41
Culls cows
Current Stocking Rate (platform) cows/ha 3.3
Production (to the factory) (21/11/17)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 106,823
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 30,064
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 7,723
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.) % 0.82
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 15.60
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 154,000
Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) A
Fonterra 17/18 Forecast - as at 27 July 17 $/kgMS $6.75

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 327 ha (eff), 32.5 ha (eff) young stock block and 294 ha (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.

Last of the kale planted on the platform (Regal) and two paddocks planted on the young stock block (Kestrel).

Some weeds developing in the new grass area which will require monitoring and potentially needing a post emergence spray.

Fodder beet paddocks, plants up and baleage in place

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 2586
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 77
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 26
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 86
Rate kg/ha 160
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 0.2
Soil Temp (7-day average) @10am °C 15

Reproductive Performance


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

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

The calving spread of 17 weeks (spring 2017) meant there has been 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 split into two lines with Jersey bulls. They are due to return to the platform for a few days next week to weigh through the older set of wooden yards. Will update LW’s after weighing.

Most of the heifers have been weaned off milk now and are grazing on the milking? platform still. Supplement has been harvested on the young stock block and when there has been sufficient regrowth the calves will join the R2 heifers there.

Research Update (fortnightly)

Update from DairyNZ on farm Senior Research Technician, Willis Ritchie

Forage Value Index:

Measurements and sampling continue for the FVI trial on the following:

  • Pasture growth
  • Herbage sampling and analysis
  • Daily recording of grazing
  • Effluent applications
  • Fertiliser applications,
  • Urea applications
  • Harvest for supplement
  • Topping to waste

Winter Feeding Trial:

Over the past two weeks we have completed our monthly effluent samples, fortnightly herd test and body condition scoring, along with weekly pasture metering. The first snip cuts of pasture for botanical composition have been taken and these will be analysed at a later date. The next scheduled snip cut will be in January/February.

Nicole Hammond, who is a part time research technician and developer with DairyNZ, has returned from her 6-week trip away and was straight into herd testing and our first field day.

Planning has begun for the two new trials that will hopefully begin in approximately a fortnights time. Further detail on these trials will be made available once planning is completed.  Herd testing will move from fortnightly sampling to monthly sampling after the December herd test is completed. Body condition scoring will continue fortnightly.


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 continue with Farmtune a lean management program designed to improve efficiencies on farm.  Over the last couple of weeks the team have been learning how to identify opportunities for improvement of different systems find solutions and create standard operating procedures.
  • As previously reported, Applications for the newly advertised staff member  are being reviewed as they arrive. Having the addition staff member will benefit the existing farm team as the normal daily jobs require double the workload on a research farm (for example four herds to get in for milking each day rather than two) which under the current structure has highlighted the requirement of an additional person to reduce the strain on the current team who continue to do a fantastic job.

Farmtune work – Teamwork setting out Standard Operating Procedures