2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 10th October 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

NB: Second target line represents demand on a 100% pasture allocation (post balance date) on a 21-day rotation for Std herds and 25-day rotation for LI herds

NB: Std_Kale results will be added once they come through from LIC

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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 10th October 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 9.3
Rainfall (mm) 26.6
Springer allocation Ad lib silage with small amount pasture
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 16kg DM pasture
Milk Allocation 19kg DM 19kg DM
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% Springers (total herd) 5% 5% 3% 11%
% Calved (total herd) 95% 95% 97% 89%
% milkers in Colostrums/Penos/OAD 9% 6% 7% 5%
% TAD Milkers (total) 87% 88% 90% 84%

Key Decisions: this week

  • We are constantly reassessing our decision making processes regarding supplementary feed requirements to minimise supplement wastage, achieve post grazing residual targets and ensure the herds are well fed. The herds are diverging in stocking rate and pasture growth has been variable resulting in quite different pasture supply and demand profiles across the farm systems.  This week we had inconsistencies in decision making for baleage feeding resulting in very different residuals in paddocks from different farmlets grazed in wet conditions on the same day. The image on the left shows where baleage should have been fed and residuals left were too tight, versus the image on the right when baleage was fed but not needed.

Figure 1: Effect of incorrect baleage allocation on pasture residuals left


  • We will continue similar supplement levels this week, with the exception of the Std Kales where in-shed feeding will be increased from 3 to 4kg DM/cow/day. Baleage will continue to be fed out to fill pasture deficits and on wet days to compensate for reduced pasture utilisation.

Table 3: Supplements offered to farmlets this week (kg DM/cow/day)

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
(kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow)
Pasture available
(kg DM/cow/day)
12 14 15 15.5
PKE inshed
(kg DM/cow/day @ 88%DM)
4 3
Baleage 2.5 (2-3 bale/pdk) 1 (1 bale/pdk) 0.8(1 bale/pdk) 1(1 bale/pdk)
Fodder beet
(kg DM/cow/day @ 14% DM)
2 2
  • Install a mirror above the in-shed feeding outlets to monitor feed dispensing from cups on as this week we experienced issues with bridging in the silo and inconsistent dispensing of supplement.
  • Driving around the farm the Std paddocks are beginning to look a bit yellow and given the higher feed demand we will continue with N applications. Due to the wet conditions, 30kg N/ha (95kg Ammo 31) will be applied by helicopter to the Std farmlet paddocks that are below 2500 kg DM/ha and not being grazed in this week’s rotation. The following week the remaining Std paddocks will receive the same N applications.
  • Reducing pugging damage on farm has been a challenge. With the kind winter and early spring we experienced we have been able to utilise the good regrowth in our springer (pre-crop) paddocks and regraze with them with the milkers in order to protect the platform for a small period throughout the week.
  • Crop paddock plans are now entering front of mind as we talk with agronomists and contractors around grazing plans, paddock setup and ‘no-go’ areas in the paddock. This year we are planning the use of Cleancrop Kale due to the challenges we experienced last year with high weed burdon in our second year kale paddocks. Establishment of Cleancrop Kale involves one pre-emergence herbicide spray that has a residual effect in the soil, reducing the need for future spraying and disruption of the crop paddock and plant.

General Notes:

  • Over the weekend we had some warmer weather and although we have experienced 26.6mm of rain this week the soil temperature has increased from 8.2˚C to 9.3˚C average. This brings assurance that the grass is still growing even though paddock conditions are very wet. Our pasture wedges are still tight for several herds but now have a more uniform decline in cover and no looming drop in pre-graze cover. APC is between 2115 to 2218 kg DM/ha and growth this week ranged from 21 to 44kg DM/ha. There are no treatment trends in the growth rate differences at this stage. The differences most likely reflect differing pre and post graze residuals between paddocks & farmlets in the first round i.e. very high pre-graze paddocks and those grazed harder in the first round have not come back as quickly, the range in cultivars and the physical conditions within and between farmlets.
  • The Kale farmlets dropped milk production this week. This can be attributed to issues with the inshed feeding and some cows not receiving inshed feeding due to blockages/bridging in the silo.  In addition, the choices around when to add and remove baleage have impacted production

Figure 2: Kg MS/cow average for each farmlet


  • We are getting to the tail end of calving and have x39 cows left to calve. It is interesting to note that this number is made up of significantly more LI FB cows at 11% of the herd, compared to 5% Kale cows and only 3% Std. FB cows.
  • The cows were BCS this week with all herds showing an average 0.1-0.2 BCS drop compared to a fortnight ago (26th Sept). It is pleasing to note that there has been only a very small/no change in the proportion of each herd less than BCS 4.0 (Std. kale 2%, LI Kale and Std. FB 0% and LI FB 1% of herd <BCS 4) suggesting cows are not utilising body condition to maintain milk production and our supplementary feeding strategies are working.

Figure 3: BCS score comparison of farmlets over a fortnight


  • Mating is not far away and we will be monitoring our premating heats to identify which cows may require intervention. Our initial thoughts for intervention include: 42 days or greater post-calving, under 7 years of age, metritis cured, and if a BCS issue relating to anoestrous then once a day implemented. The decision rules around selection of animals for intervention will be finalised with the vets and management team in the next week. 
  • Our calf weights from a few weeks ago were collated and indicated that the calves are gaining at 0.6kg/calf/day. They will under-go full measurements and weights this Friday with some mobs being sent to the runoff next week.

Animal Health

  • With the recent wet weather magnesium and calcium dusting to the milking herds has been less effective than usual. We have encouraged staff to keep to the routine and increase the application rates when it is wet. We have been applying minerals on top of the baleage to encourage ingestion and also been offering the FB farmlets DCP at 50g/cow/day whilst they receive FB supplement.
  • We had x2 cows deaths this week; one due to a difficult calving and the other milk fever.
  • X4 cases of mastitis have popped up this week increasing what was our very minimal mastitis cases so far this season.
  • Liver biopsy results are back in with some interesting results.
    • The selenium levels of the herd ranged from marginal to adequate. Selenium is important for good fertility and production so the options to rectify the issues include: a short acting injection for the lower group of animals or alternatively increasing the amount of selenium going through the in-line water dispenser for a couple of weeks.
    • The liver copper showed a large variation ranging from poor to adequate with most of the heifers (first calvers) tested being low. Copper is essential for a well-functioning immune system and also for fertility so the option is to inject all the heifers with 3ml copperguard.


People Management and Visitors

  • Last week we said farewell to Uere who has made a career change and taken up a position on a commercial fishing boat operating out of the North Island.

Research on-farm

  • The first of our N intake estimation periods is scheduled for this week. During this time we will collect urine, faeces, milk and feed samples to estimate N intake and partitioning.

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 louise.cook@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: