2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 10th January 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

*If you are struggling to view the tables and wedges you can download the pdf here

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 10th January 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 21.3
Rainfall (mm) 27.8
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 17
Av. Kg MS/cow/day (##incl staph cows) 1.4 1.4
Average milk fat (%) 4.80 4.86
Average milk prot (%) 3.92 3.97
Average SCC (cells/ml) 158 127
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 175 164 165 145
Milkers – OAD 11 6 20 10
Other/Penos 3 1 3 3

We have not been able to hold milk production this week as we headed into the second week of growth below demand and as pastures dried off and quality dropped. Cows had been settled till late last week, but dry conditions combined with grazing topped/mown paddocks from last round resulted in the cows grazing into the base of the pastures and production suffered as a result.  Supplementation of PKE to kale herds and baleage to fodder beet herds commenced at the beginning of this week.


Key Decisions: this week

  • Supplements are being fed to all farmlets.
    • Kale farmlets are receiving 2kg/cow/day PKE inshed; 
    • Std. FB farmlets offered 2.4kg DM/cow/day baleage (2 bales/day) and
    • LI FB farmlets offered 3kg DM/cow/day baleage (2 bales/day).

The baleage was made on the support block and brought over to the milking platform to be fed out.

  • Rotation length is sitting at 29-34 days with the variation due to differences in the area of pasture available (number of paddocks) between farmlets. Cows are generally grazing 1.5 days per paddock but for some paddocks it is only 1 day based on yield, quality and days since last grazing. 
  • All farmlets will receive 25 kg N, as N-protect, on the paddocks remaining to complete the round on N started at the end of December. This will bring all Std paddocks up to 120 kg N/ha season to date and LI paddocks to 50 kg N/ha season to date. This will be the second application of 25 kg N/ha for all the new grass paddocks.
  • Bulls were removed from the herds this morning and AI will commence with 7 days of short gestation semen to complete the mating period. The first scan will occur on the 25th January.

Diagram 1: Cows receiving tail paint in preparation for 7 days short gestation AI

General Notes:

  • We have noted a significant difference in the weed burden between crop paddocks with the first year FB paddocks being much cleaner than the 2nd year FB crops. The main difference between these paddocks was a much finer seedbed in the grass to crop paddocks compared with the crop to crop paddocks, reiterating the importance in seedbed preparation prior to crop establishment. The spray contractor has been out the last two days and the effect of spraying red shank in the kale crop is already noticeable (as seen below).


Diagram 2: Red shank beginning to wilt in the crop paddock post spraying

  • Unfortunately, we have had a few issues with ducks attacking the back end of one of the kale crops. Now that canopy closure has occurred the issue appears to have resolved itself.
  • The calibration cuts done last week highlighted how dry the pastures have become in the last 2 weeks. However, much of the increase in DM measured is in the base of the sward, below the grazing horizon, so what is available to the cows is only slightly higher than that predicted with the winter equation. The height:mass relationship in the new grass paddocks align more closely with the standard winter equation. We are continuing to use the standard winter equation estimates and visual observations for pasture allocation. 
  • The cows were BCS this week. For this time of year we are comfortable with where the BCS is sitting. Cows <BCS 4 are being milked once a day but remain in their herds.

Table 3: Body condition score of cows 10th Jan 2018

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
BCS 4.3 4.3 4.2 4.4
% whole herd less than BCS 4 2 0 6 4
  • Results of the December pasture samples collected for quality are summarised below. The lower DM% for the LI Kale herd was the result of 2 new grass paddocks being included in the paddocks being grazed the week of sampling for this herd.
DM% Crude Protein ME NDF
LI FB 16.6 18.8 12.1 37.6
LI Kale 13.7 20.5 11.9 31.0
Std FB 17.8 15.7 11.3 42.3
Std Kale 17.3 20.3 11.5 45.5
  • Paddock ranges for the different components are below.
    • DM% range – 9.9 to 20.8%
    • Crude protein – 13.4 to 25.6%
    • ME – 9.9 to 12.6 MJ/kg DM
    • NDF – 21.3 to 53.9%
  • There were no farm systems trends within the ranges but the new grass paddocks were generally lower in DM (13 vs 18.5%), higher in crude protein (20.1 vs 17.8 %) and higher in ME (12.3 vs 11.3 MJ/kg DM)

Animal Health

  • X5 cull cows left this week (x3 LI FB, x1 STD FB, x1 LI kale). Reason for culling included: kicking, on-going mastitis issues, undergrown, and continuous poor health.
  • All calves were given a copper bullet and treated for lice last week following a visit by the vet last week to look at a couple of calves that weren’t looking great.
  • At weighing this week calves that had not gained weight, lost weight, were less than 105 kg and looked poor were drafted off and put into a separate mob.
  • One particularly poor performing calf that suffered badly from spring eczema pre-Christmas was euthanised and autopsied. Her liver was slightly darker but no other abnormalities were observed and blood results came back normal. We are awaiting the BVD results. 

People Management

  • Applications close on the 15th January for the Hub’s farm manager position and the first round of interviews will be held on the 22nd January. You can find out more and how to apply at: https://www.southerndairyhub.co.nz/jobs/

Research on-farm

  • Next week the science team will take a series of measurements to estimate N intake across the 4 herds. This will involve plating all the paddocks pre and post grazing and taking feed samples for nutritive value analysis. We will also be taking urine, faeces, blood and milk samples from 20 cows from each herd for N analysis.

General Farm Systems information

The project farm systems comparison has been designed to better understand crop-based wintering in relation to consequences for environmental impact and profit

  • The four herds are split evenly on age, BW / PW, calving date and breed 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).

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: