2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 6th February 2018

All smiles this week with a bit of moisture (55.6mm rainfall on the 2nd Feb 83 mm total for the week)

General comments

The Hub received a total of 83 mm rainfall over the last week which was gladly received. This together with cooler temperatures has seen the soil temp drop to 15 degrees. With the forecast of warmer weather this week the soil temperature is likely to increase again.

We are hoping that the rain and cooler temperatures, combined with the recent application of N to 92 ha of pastures will increase pasture growth. The farm team are aiming to hold the current round length, keep supplementing silage, PKE (in paddock) and the PKE/Barley mix (in shed feeding) to meet demand and look to build APC.

The kale and fodder beet crops are being monitored for pest problems and as the weather warms up a watch will be kept for and emerging fungal issues.

Critical Targets this week

  • Holding the current round length
  • Blood test for BVD in R1 heifers, plus drench and weigh R1 heifers
  • Urea on crops (helicopter)
  • Farm maintenance

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.

Table 1: Herd & Production

Herds on Milking Platform Unit Value
Milkers - 3 in 2 cows 620
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 0
Current Stocking Rate (platform) cows/ha 2.6
Production (to the factory) (19/01/18)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 175,755
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 3,505
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 6,230
Average per cow daily production (last 7 days) kgMS/cow/day 1.4
Per ha production (last 7 days) kgMS/ha 3.64
Other (to the factory)
Protein:Fat Ratio (7-day avg.) % 0.75
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 25.7
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 126,000
Fat Evaluation Index (FEI) A
Fonterra 17/18 Forecast - as at 7th Dec 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 has been measured at 1760kgDM/ha, a drop of approx. 160kgDM/ha since the last measurement a week ago. It is possible this is a result of three influences:

  • Wet and cooler conditions over the week
  • Grazing the R1 heifers spread out over the platform
  • Decay of seed-head and stalk following the rain

The farm team have been required to graze the R1 heifers on the platform since weaning. A fortnight ago these animals were split into groups of 10 and spread across the platform. This was to reduce the impact on set areas and to ensure heifer growth rates were not compromised.

In hindsight grazing R1 heifers spread out on the platform was probably not the best option during a period of low pasture growth and appears to have compromised the farms ability to lift average pasture cover. This has possibly contributed to 44 paddocks recording no or negative growth over the last week.

The farm team plan to re-group all R1 heifers back into one mob when they are drenched this week, train them to an electric wire and break feed one paddock at a time with silage added as supplement to pasture. Silage feeding will start at 1kgDM/head/day and increase up to 4kgDM/head/day if required.

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:

  • 1.5kg/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.

At these rates of PKE we are still recording a FEI target of A. The Hub did however slip into a B rating for one pick up and currently is on the line between A and B. We target to remain in category A for FEI testing.

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 1.5 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.

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 1760
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 15
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 30
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

Pasture residuals have been maintained no lower than 1500kgDM/ha, thanks for the rain, now bring back the sun!

Table 4: Fertiliser & Nitrogen Metrics

Nitrogen (Urea only)(last 7 days) Unit
Area ha
Rate kg/N/ha
Fertiliser (last 7 days) Unit
Area ha 0
Rate kg/ha 0
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 83
Soil Temp (7-day average) @10am °C 15

Reproductive Performance


6 week in calf rate confirmed at 79% of cows scanned. More info with a breakdown to come.

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 79
Empty Rate % 10 TBC

Research Update (fortnightly)

No update this week

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