2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 11th July 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 11th July 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 5.4
Rainfall (mm) 7.4
Dry Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 11.3kg DM crop + 3-3.5kg DM baleage 10.6kg DM crop + 3-3.5kg DM baleage
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 158 133 159 133
R2’s 43 36 43 37

Key Decisions: this week

  • All cows were BCS assessed this week and with a reasonable gap to target BCS we will be increasing the feed allocation by 1 kg DM/cow/day starting immediately. Herd averages ranged from 4.7 to 5.1 (see below), with the lights and R2s being at a higher average BCS (mostly due to the better conditioned R2’s in the mob). It is very important to note that a lot of cows scored at 4.5 were close to BCS 5, however as we score in 0.5 BCS units it has been our policy to round scores down rather than up.

Figure 1: Average BCS for each mob


  • The BCS results have prompted us to make the decision to increase feed allocation by 1kg DM/cow day starting tomorrow with baleage.
    This is possibly a result of the late transitioning of mobs and the lighter cows not getting a higher feed allocation early enough in winter.
  • With poor weather predicted over the weekend, additional baleage will be placed out on crop ASAP to avoid using the tractor in wet conditions.
  • We have measured all remaining crop areas and are reviewing the feed budgets to ensure we make the budget work with larger crop allocations,
  • Feed budget dependent, it is our intention that the extra baleage offered over the weekend will be replaced with 1 kg DM crop as feed test results indicate that the crop is better quality than the baleage.  
  • With a large front approaching it is vital to be proactive. SDH will be implementing the following actions to help set up for a potential prolonged wet period:
    • Placing extra baleage onto crop paddocks
    • Using back fences to prevent cows moving around too much and increasing mud and damage. These are moved up daily when the new break is opened up.
    • Using catch fences to reduce the risk of animal health issues if there are breakouts
    • Providing portable troughs and shifting them up daily
    • Not grazing buffer strips and staying away from any critical source areas
    • Being prepared to shift mobs up to the top terrace crops where it is drier.
    • Where possible utilising natural tree shelter or the kale crop as protection from prevailing winds.

Figure 2: Cows appear very happy on crop, sitting down, chewing cud and enjoying the sunshine.

Figure 3: Having a good sized, uncultivated buffer strip next to any critical source areas is really important over winter, especially when heavy rain is predicted. Here is our buffer strip on the kale crop next to the stream.


General Notes:

  • Plate meter and visual estimates on the LI FB and Kale farmlets suggest APC has declined over the last 2 weeks. A significant number of paddocks recorded negative growth rates however we think this is an anomaly based on the following factors:
    • Conditions during plating
      • had been very wet and windy overnight
      • squally showers were coming through during the walk making it difficult for the team to visually assess paddocks
  • Clumps in paddocks are starting to lodge – reducing height estimate
  • Frequency of assessment – we are assessing fortnightly through the winter period
  • Increased variability across the paddock
  • The next farmwalk is in a fortnight so it will be interesting to see what the pasture cover and growth rates are then.

Table 3: Plate and visual APC and growth rate for the last fortnight

Pink 2337 2293 2 2
Blue 2266 2233 -7 -8
Green 2307 2345 2 10
Yellow 2258 2212 -5 -7
  • With calving not too far way it was important to put together a spring rotation plan (SRP). The SRP provides guidelines for allocating pasture to cope with the growing milking herd and the shrinking dry herd and helps avoid going too fast or too slow in the first grazing rotation after calving.
  • This week a SRP was completed for each farmlet using the DairyNZ SRP Planner tool; you can read more about the SRP and use the DairyNZ SRP tool for your farm here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/pasture-management/feed-wedges-and-rotation-planners/spring-rotation-planner
  • It was great to have a tidy up of our lanes leading into the shed this week. With past wet weather they had become quite wet and soft. Now they have been scraped back and are much easier and safer to drive on.
  • Leading into July the farm team have been doing a great job coming together and completing small jobs around the farm and shed that don’t get completed during the season.
  • Tomorrow the R1s will be weighed to check their progress.

Animal Health

  • Last week we had Vet Techs on farm to teat seal all the R2 heifers. This was a smooth process with the use of our herringbone facilities.
  • The farm team has been monitoring the cows on crop twice a day. Overall, we are pulling out on average x1 lame cow/week. Cows are drafted, a diagnosis made and treatment given if necessary. They are then kept close to the shed until treatment is completed. Where possible they are returned to their crop mob. If the cow is from a FB we ensure FB stays in the diet while they are away from the main mob.


People Management and Visitors

  • This week SDH had its roadshow visiting Milton, Gore, Otautau and Lumsden. Thanks very much to our speakers: Dr Dawn Dalley (DairyNZ), Chris Smith (AgResearch), Richard Kyte and Louise Cook. Also thanks very much to team members who took time out of their day to attend, including SDDT trustees, Charlie McGregor and Caitlin Crack. There was some very interesting information shared including: Hub setup and vision, last 2 years trial results around Kale and FB, environmental trials and results, and where to from here in regards to additional research.

Figure 4: Richard Kyte going through the Hub setup, vision and difference between a research farm vs. a demonstration farm.


  • During a tour to Southland we were pleased to host MPI Deputy Director Karen Adair and share with her the work we are doing in providing future information to Southern farmers.
  • This week we welcome new farm team member Georgina.

Research on-farm

  • We are currently working through the wintering monitoring on the R1’s as part of a Lincoln University Honours project. An opportunity arose to complete the behaviour monitoring on these animals over a longer period and investigate the effect of internal parasites on grazing behaviour as part of another Lincoln University project. This week Paige (Honours student) spent 6 hours sitting in the paddock recording the R1s behaviour at 15-minute intervals.

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: