2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 5th December 2017

Hub Non-Return Rate just under 6 weeks 72% (target rate of 70% or above)
First season, 18% CIDR’s used

General comments

Soil moisture conditions are now limiting pasture growth, growth of 47kgDM/ha/day for the last week. The potential surplus feed identified last week has been returned to the grazing round allowing us to extend the round from 26 days to 30 days. The pasture quality of the paddocks that were skipped last week were still OK for the milkers but were likely lower in quality because of the higher mass and more seedhead. The decision to graze these needed to be this week before quality declined further. Production has dropped from 1.7 kgMS/cow to 1.6kgMS/cow, possibly as a result of grazing these more mature pastures.

Staph Aureus has been identified from milk samples collected at the end of last week. High SCC cows were drafted out and are being milked last to prevent the spread of this infection whilst the control plan is developed in consultation with the vets.

The lower terrace is again looking N deficient – looking to confirm our approach on N to support the investment in new pastures from last autumn.

  • 3-week NRR of 68%
  • 51 cows identified with Staph Aureus mastitis – refer to the herd management section for more details
  • Bulk SCC has dropped to 96,000 with the removal of 50 high SCC cows from the milking herds
  • 23ha that was identified for surplus has been returned to the grazing round
  • Interviews are continuing for our Junior employee
  • Topping behind cows has slowed as less seed head is apparent in some cultivars
  • Crime prevention! One of our 2-wheel Suzuki bikes was pinched over the weekend from in front of the cottage, during the day. This has prompted a refresh of our policy: Keys will now be removed and bikes locked away during the day if we are off farm and at night.  Hub Facebook page has a photo of the missing bike, please show your friends and neighbours.

Critical Targets this week

  • Confirm the management plan with the vet for the Staph cows asap, return as many of the confirmed cows to the vat and manage the remainder
  • Continued focus on picking cows on heat as we move into the final stages of AI
  • Decision on a new Junior employee
  • Weed control in new grass paddocks and around the outside of crop and new grass paddocks

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).

  • The recent BCS done last week identified 21 animals to add to the OAD list. These animals remain in their herds and walk to the shed twice a day but are milked just in the morning. The feed table shows the level of extra feeding they are offered in shed to manage BCS.

Understanding Staph Aureus

  • Having a few staph aureus cows in a herd isn’t too uncommon, and many farmers tolerate a few. Staph aureus is considered a contagious pathogen so the primary way to prevent it is through good teat disinfection after milking, followed up by antibiotic DCT at dry off or culling.  Separating out high SCC / known infected cows / older cows and milking them second is also a useful approach, depending on numbers involved, herd structure and current mob management approaches. Usually only a few strains are in a herd and some strains seem to be more pathogenic than others. We will show The Hub’s vet plan when it is confirmed.

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 2
Current Stocking Rate (platform) cows/ha 3.0
Production (to the factory) (21/11/17)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 114,132
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 3,049
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 7,294
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.) % 0.82
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 19.60
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 96,000
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.

  • The farm team have noticed less area growing seed head possibly related to the different grass cultivars present on The Hub. This has meant less topping has been required after cows have grazed paddocks to control this seed head.
  • Grazing round has extended to 30 days with the baleage paddocks back in the round
  • Visible increase in clover becoming apparent, farm team to introduce bloat oil as a preventative measure through the dosatron.

Typical pasture residuals post grazing seen on The Hub this week, and business manager gumboot (clean) for scale!

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.

  • The dryer conditions are doing nothing to stop weed growth in the young grass paddocks and this will require correction with management advice being sought from our technical field rep
  • Weed control is also required along the side of crop and new grass paddocks with docks and thistles needing attention
  • Continuing to monitor crop paddocks for weeds and pests. The fodder beet that was established earlier is looking better than the kale paddocks. All crops and new grass would benefit from some moisture.

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 2544
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 47
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 30
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 31
Rate kg/ha 160
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 2
Soil Temp (7-day average) @10am °C 16.3

Reproductive Performance


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

Hereford bulls are on farm ready to go, 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

R2 heifers are split into two lines with Jersey bulls. 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 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)

Once again, we have completed our fortnightly herd test and body condition scoring, along with weekly pasture metering. The 12th will be our last fortnightly herd test as we move to a monthly herd test for the rest of the season.

The change of herd test dates is because major changes in milk composition are expected to be seen in the early lactation between wintering treatments compared to later in the season.

The next fortnight will be busy with a body condition scoring event on the 14th and 22nd before the Christmas shutdown period. We will also be collecting and analysing pre-Christmas data of body condition scores, pasture measurements, fertilizer applications, weather data, effluent data, grazing records and all data captured by our milking system Delpro.

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:


People Management

  • 8:2 & 8:3 roster
  • Farm Manager position open for applications