2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 11th January 2021

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 11/2/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 11th Feb 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 195 162 193 162 712
Milking TAD into vat 167 141 138 137 583
Milking OAD into vat 23 20 47 21 111
Sick/penos 5 1 8 4 18

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 11/2/2021

Soil temp (C) 17.8
Rainfall (mm) 9.8
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 15.8 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1.2 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16.2 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 0.8 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16.1 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 0.9 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16.3 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 0.7 kg DM 
all cows in herd

Key Decisions: this week

  • There is still some variation between paddocks and the willingness of the cows to graze them consistently well so we have continued with strategic topping across all farmlets with x5 pdks topped this week.
  • The baleage contractor has been booked for next week. Paddocks baled last week are regrowing well due to favourable growing conditions.
  • The LI FB farmlet wedge is looking a bit tight and one bale was required to be fed last in their latest paddock so we have planned on x1 bale per paddock but will assess residuals after 24 hours and adjust accordingly.
  • The penos will also start with 0.5 bale/pdk and their allocated area will be reduced by 10% to minimise the impact on the pasture available to the farmlet cows when they get there. Because we have no ‘spare’ paddocks on the farm the peno mob rotates around the farmlets with 2 days per paddock ahead of the milkers.
  • N fertiliser will recommence to the Std. farmlets at 25 kg N/ha as N Protect.
  • This week we are making key decisions around how we will graze out winter crop paddocks. We need to decide on grazing direction, utilising natural shelter, direction of prevailing wind, wet parts of the paddock to avoid or graze when dry, mob sizes, bale placement, paddock dimensions and accounting for variable yields throughout. One of the decisions made was to put our higher BCS cows into the more variable paddocks that will require more work to get a consistent allocation.
  • The farm team will measure all the crop paddocks so we have accurate data for determining bale placement and feed allocation
  • For our feed budget calculations and bale placement we work off an estimated 12t kale crop and 20t FB crop. The crops overall are looking good however, as mentioned in last week’s notes following the assessment of fodder beet pdk 49 by the agronomy and spray technical field reps three factors were identified that could be impacting growth in this paddock:
    • compaction of soil, as indicated by the main tap root bending
    • the weather being hot then cold, hot then cold and the plants not getting a good chance to grow to its potential.
    • the crop is also showing signs of Rhizoctonia, it is there but not significant

The decision has been made to spray for fungicide and include some essential nutrients to give the crop every chance of growing.

  • A list of paddocks on the farm have been flagged for aeration once soil conditions are right. We have picked an equal number of paddocks for each farmlet and hopefully this will unleash the pasture potential of the compacted paddocks.
  • We have started our cull list for all herds now that we have indicative pregnancy data.
  • The BCS priority management groups will be reassessed also taking into account pregnancy status, age and expected calving date.
  • We are working through revision of farmlet area, paddock allocation and herd numbers in the LI farmlets as the LI Kale herd will lose one of their paddocks next season as the infrastructure project takes shape. Another LI Kale paddock is likely to become a general use paddock which will require a swap in paddocks with the LI FB farmlet to keep farmlet areas similar across the treatments.

General Notes:

  • The weather over the last week continued to be variable with a hot weekend followed by rain, wind and a significant temperature drop.
  • Average pasture growth rate continues to be variable this summer. While generally better than last season we have not been growing consistently at the long-term average (Figure 1, Woodlands data).
  • At SDH we have seen overall better growth through January but a bigger divergence between our Standard (130 kg N/ha season to date) and Lower Impact farmlets (35 kg N/ha season to date) since December (Figure 2).

Figure 1: Woodlands growth curve

Figure 2: Seasonal pasture growth rates cross farmlets


  • Last week we recorded our BCS to be 4 for the Kale farmlets and 3.9 for the FB, which was lighter than what we would have preferred. At this stage of the season we need to make decisions regarding lighter, early calving cows and getting them to their BCS target at dry off. Decisions and actions around reshuffling herds, prioritised feeding and changing milking frequency are all considerations.

Figure 3: BCS distribution for each herd from last week’s assessment

Figure 4: Herd average BCS for the season


  • The LI FB took a fall in milk production for a couple of days this week when they grazed 2 poor performing paddocks consecutively. The significant lift in production was when they then went and grazed a new grass paddock. It is interesting watching the cow performance as they graze through the range in cultivars across the farm. There are clearly some paddocks they prefer more than others!!!

Figure 5: Weekly average kg MS/cow season to date

Figure 6: Milk production (kg MS/ha/day) comparison for each farmlet


  • Calves at the support block were drenched yesterday. One calf had a B1 deficiency so was treated by the vet and taken off the new grass. The mob had just grazed through 3 new grass paddocks consecutively which we think contributed to the B1 deficiency.   

Animal Health

  • Lames cows continue to pop up and lameness management is an ongoing process through inline mineral supplementation, hoof management, cow flow management and use of copper sulphate mats at the dairy.
  • The vet was called to assess one of the lame cows this week .

People Management and Visitors

  • Our SDH field day has been booked in for the 10th March so don’t forget to book it into your calendar!
  • Farmer Reference Group is scheduled for the 25th Feb so please Louise know if you are interested in attending.

Research on-farm

  • Monthly N intake measurements have been occurring this week and the botanical composition of every paddock on the farm continues as they come up for grazing.

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: