2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 7th November 2017

General comments

Highest pasture growth for the season recorded this week of 91kgDM/day has prompted another round of surplus pasture earmarked for baleage. Post topping continues on selected paddocks as required. Rainfall this week has immediately ponded some problem areas quickly again and the forecast rain will only add to this. The focus this week coming is the second day for the farm team on ‘Lean’ management, calf weighing, herd AB, marking crop paddocks for baleage placement, topping as required and preparation for the field day on the 14th next Tuesday.

Pasture cut samples taken last week results are in and with research for feedback to us. Six cuts were taken, two from each of the following –

  • Older paddocks with lots of clover evident
  • Low FVI paddocks
  • High FVI paddocks

ME ranges from 12.4MJME to 12.7MJME and DM% ranges from 14%DM to 19.7%DM

Lab results and comment from research out later this week as available.

Herd & Production

Four even herds run on set farmlets. Per cow production peak has been impacted by the mid July calving date, herd make up of 30% heifers and pasture feed quality in the first round affecting the early calving cows (10.1ME measured). Current production is being maintained.

Table 1: Herd & Production

Herds on Milking Platform Unit Value
Milkers - TAD cows 629
Milkers - OAD cows 53
Colostrum cows
Springers cows 1
Sick mob (Not in vat) cows 15
Current Stocking Rate (platform) cows/ha 3.3
Production (to the factory) (6/11/17)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 84,029
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 7,270
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS 8,442
Average per cow daily production (last 7 days) kgMS/cow/day 1.80
Per ha production (last 7 days) kgMS/ha 4.38
Other (to the factory)
Protein:Fat Ratio (7-day avg.) % .81
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 18.84
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 163,000
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 must remain with their allocated herds for research purposes. Concentrate in shed is a 50:50 mix of PKE and barley.

Fodder beet (lifted at the end of the winter as surplus to requirements) is being fed just to utilise within the system and is due to be finished on the 9/11/17. The rate used has been dropped this week to 1kgDM/day/cow to minimise any impact of removing this from the diet (cows have shown a preference for the beet each day with minimal wastage in the paddock.

Table 2: Feed Offered

Milkers – Pasture offered kgDM/cow/day 18
Milkers - Fodder Beet kgDM/cow/day 1.00
Milkers - Pasture Silage kgDM/cow/day 0.00
Milkers - Concentrates - TAD Cows kgDM/cow/day 0.25
Milkers - Concentrates - OAD Cows kgDM/cow/day 1.50

Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Management

Total area includes 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 remaining fodder beet paddocks are ready to be planted, just waiting on the next weather window. Kale paddocks are being prepared for planting. New area identified this week for baleage both on the platform and on the young stock block, to be harvested as weather allows.

Table 3: Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Metrics

Pre - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 3100
Post - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 1650
Average Pasture Cover (avg. over 4) kgDM/ha 2668
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 98
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 24
Area Available for grazing (milkers) ha 213
Regrassing Area (out of rotation) ha 20.3
Baleage/Silage Area (out of rotation) ha 20.3
Crop Area (out of rotation) ha 49.6
Aeration Area ha 0.0
Young Stock (not included in rotation) ha 29.0

Fertiliser & Nitrogen

15t of Whole Farm Spring Boost Fertiliser (as per Ravensdown recommended Agronomy Plan) was applied at 187.5 kg/ha to 80ha last week.  The remainder will be applied weekly following the cows.

No Urea has been applied this week. Agronomy advise has been that the young grass area requires a greater mix of nutrient than just urea. Ravensdown have provided a mix to feed our young grass area whilst the clover establishes (little clover provides little natural N fixation)

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 67.5
Rate kg/ha 185
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 37
Soil Temp (7-day average) @10am °C 13.5

Reproductive Performance


  • 90% submission rate 3 weeks
  • 78% 6-week in calf rate

First CIDR run at start of AB – 88 cows

We require 30 cows on average daily to achieve target submission rate.

With our calving spread of 17 weeks this spring we consider an emphasis 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 to make use of 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 sick herd and powder to finish them off along with meal.

Research Update (fortnightly)

Forage Value Index:

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

Over the past fortnight we have been quite busy.

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, will return to the team 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 metering 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 they come up for grazing. They are then split into their botanical composition’s and dried. A sample is also collected for NIRS (Near InfraRed Spectrometry) and dried before being sent away for analysis.

All the Lithium Heparin blood samples, that were collected during the wintering trial have been sent away for analysis. We have also sent away another lot of fodder beet samples for analysis. The fodder beet is from the beet which was pulled earlier in the season and is currently being fed to the cows.

The next fortnight will be busy again with the herd testing and body condition scoring continuing and the field day on the 14th of November. Hope to see many smiling faces there.

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.