2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 11th April 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

*The blue dashed line is the target line without supplementary feeding

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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 11th April 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 10.5
Rainfall (mm) 14.2
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 16.0
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.22 (+ 0.02) 1.27 (+ 0.01)
Average milk fat (%) 5.75 (+ 0.08) 5.77 (+ 0.10)
Average milk prot (%) 4.57 (+ 0.14) 4.57 (+ 0.08)
Average SCC (cells/ml) 148 (+ 11) 160 (+ 7)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 140 145 148 127
Milkers – OAD 15 17 32 24
Other/Penos 5 2 0 6

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week there was a noticeable drop in our growth rates and APC with lower residuals recorded in some paddocks. To protect our dry off target of 2000 kg DM/ha for the Std farmlets and 2100kg DM/ha for the LI farmlets and extend the rotation length out to 42-44 days, supplements will be added. The table below shows the supplements proposed to achieve our end of May APC on each farmlet:

Table 3: Supplement and pasture allocation to achieve target dry off APC

Feeding (kg DM/cow/day) Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Pasture Allocation 11.5 14 13.4 14.4
PKE 2 2 0 0
Baleage 2.8 As required in 48 hr pdk 2.6 (+ extra in 48 hr pdk) 1.6
  • After assessing the body condition score of the herds, average pasture cover, milk production, and increased use of supplements, we are discussing the move to OAD for all herds in the next week. The results of the herd test at the start of next week will be used in this decision making . Below shows the current range in cow production for each herd:

Figure 1: Graph of herd milk solid production distribution


  • The last of the cull cows have been scheduled to leave next Wednesday. With x41 less cows on farm this will decrease the demand on the farmlets.
  • The first of the fodder beet will be lifted next week and fed out post-easter. It will be fed as a supplement to LI and Std. FB farmlets starting at 1 kg/cow/day and transitioning up to 4kg/cow/day if required to meet feed budget targets. If you are also going to feed fodder beet in late lactation, you can read about transitioning here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/crops/fodder-beet/fodder-beet-transitioning/

General Notes:

  • A few weeks ago, the team noticed white pigmentation on the outer edges of the clover leaves. Samples were taken and sent off for trace element and mineral determination in the clover. The results showed that the paddocks were low in Molybdenum, particularly in the LI farmlets. It has been advised to take more (2-3 paddocks per farmlet) clover samples in the spring before taking action.


Figure 2: Leaf edge pigmentation damage in clover

  • The calves were weighed and measured yesterday and today. We are happy with the progress they have made and will have the results available next week:

Figure 3: Calves looking good and undergoing weighing this week

  • It was noticed, after the alternating warm and cold, frosty conditions this week that the FB plant leaves are showing signs of wilting, yellowing and look slightly slimy. We have sought advice regarding this.

Figure 4: Yellowing and wilted FB leaves

  • Stinging nettle has covered some parts of the new grass paddock quite thickly. It has been advised to graze the new grass and reassess the stinging nettle post-grazing to determine whether a spray is needed.
  • The Std.kale cows will be the last to receive their cow collars this week. This is a big job ticked off but will provide valuable information for the research team.
  • Of the paddocks conserved last week, x14 bales (off 2.9ha) were made on the LI kale farmlet and x31 bales (off 5.6ha) on the Std FB.

Animal Health

  • Next week is the Hub’s drying off consult with our veterinarian. With a few cows producing less than 0.5kgMS/C/day we will be developing a management strategy for drying them off after the consult. Herd test results will be assessed next week to identify the range in SCC and develop a plan for cows within each herd to implement the dry cow treatment policy.
  • Considerations for DCT include mastitis history, current SCC and known pathogen infections with the aim of minimising the use of antibiotics as per the SMART SAMM recommendations. 
  • Liver biopsies taken 2 weeks ago have come back with more than adequate Cu levels so no additional action is required on this right now.

People Management and Visitors

  • To recognise all the people doing the hard graft on farm to generate all this information we are planning a weekly post on Facebook that will profile a staff member from the team
  • We would like to take this opportunity to thank Becky for her contribution to the SDH research over the last 18 months. It has been great watching Becky grow in confidence as she became more familiar with what she was doing. She has been a tremendous asset to the team and will be greatly missed.

Research on-farm

  • The crop research plots in paddock 52 have been fenced up ready for the autumn grazing of the FB plots with the milkers in May. To facilitate getting cows in and out of the plots we plan to lift the area between the gateway and the plots and use this to transition the cows to FB in the pasture paddocks
  • The Research Advisory Committee are currently reviewing an application from AgResearch to install linear lysimeters in pasture paddocks around the farm that currently have suction cups installed. This will allow them to compare the results from the two different measurement methods.
  • The SDH Research Advisory Committee are looking for a South Otago farmer to join our group. You will be working along-side some very talented people from DairyNZ, Ag Research, Fonterra and another farmer rep. 
    • The RAC is responsible for reviewing all research applications for SDH and making recommendations to the SDRF board on which proposals fit with the goals and vision for the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • The RAC will also make recommendations on the strategic direction of research on the site. If you have an interest in research and would like to contribute to developing solutions for southern dairy farmers and can commit to up to four 2-3 hour (skype and face to face) meetings per annum we would love to hear from you.
    • In the first instance email SDDT Chair Tony Miles with your expression of interest of interest and a short CV.

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: