2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 12th March 2020

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 12th March 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 14.4
Rainfall (mm) 34.6
Milker Total Dry Matter Allocation 16 16 (Std) and 15.5 (LI)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Number milkers out of farmlet herd 3 3 5 0
% TAD Milkers 74% 79% 71% 71%
% OAD milkers 26% 21% 29% 29%

Key Decisions: this week

  • The cows have done a good job hitting residuals in paddocks this week, though for the Std herds this has required sending the cows back for another 12 hour grazing, effectively increasing the rotation length. We feel that the need to return to paddocks is a combination of under-stating pasture growth and over-estimating what the cow’s true intake level is.
  • For next week we have revised the total intake target and are now aiming for 16kg DM/cow for both kale herds and the Std FB and the LI FB will be offered feed to achieve 15.5kg DM/cow intake.
  • Supplement availability to the herds currently differs with the kale herds having access to a PKE/barley blend plus pasture silage while the predominant supplement for the FB herds is baleage with a small percentage of at risk lighter cows receiving PKE inshed at milking. The autumn feed budget doesn’t allow for fodder beet feeding until later in April.
  • The table below summarises the proposed diet makeup of the herds for the next week. Pasture silage will be used to fill any pasture deficits for the FB herds to maintain the current 33-35 day rotation.

Table 3: Target feed intake levels for each farmlet

Feed intakes Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Pasture kg DM/cow 14 14 15.5 15
Supplement kg DM/cow 2 2 0.5 0.5
Total intake 16 16 16 15.5
  • Lighter, high priority animals from each farmlet were reassessed this week and milking frequency and supplementary feeding decisions made based on BCS results last week, pregnancy status, age and calving date. The split for last week is summarized in Table 4

Table 4: Percentage of each herd on OAD only, inshed supplement only or OAD plus supplement

BCS strategy Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
OAD only 24 5
Supplement only 39 40 6 11
OAD plus supplement 26 21 5 12
  • Nitrogen fertilizer was applied to crops via helicopter this week:
    • Kale crops – received a second side dressing of nitrogen in line with soil mineral N testing: 150 kg N Protect/ha to second year crops and 100 kg N Protect/ha to first year crops unless the crop was flooded in which case it will receive 150 kg N Protect/ha to top up N lost through excess summer drainage.
    • Fodder beet crops – 4 paddocks received 60 kg N/ha as urea where the paddocks were significantly flooded for a period of time.
  • We have noted that some of the paddocks are looking hungry with very noticeable urine patches. This is not restricted to the LI farmlets, with many Std paddocks showing the same effect despite having received 160-180 kg N/ha season to date. FB crops that were flooded are also showing signs of yellowing. We were wondering if the heavy rainfall and flooding has had some impact on nutrient levels and will consult our fertilizer rep and agronomist to discuss herbage sampling and testing options.

Figure 1: Nutrient deficient looking paddock with obvious urine patches

Figure 2: Yellowing FB leaves where flooding occurred


  • N applications continue on the Std. and LI farmlet.
    • Std farmlets N fertilizer is applied following the cows
    • LI farmlets two thirds of the paddocks have already receive N to maximise response rate pre-grazing with the remaining third to be done post grazing.

General Notes:

  • This week has been a bit quieter in terms of extract activities so the team was able to get a few jobs done such as tail trimming, finish sorting the bales for next year and batching up those that were damaged in the floods.
  • With warmth and bit of moisture this week the grass growth and APC has increased. Paddocks that were harvested for baleage a couple of weeks ago are now also coming away nicely which has boosted APC. We are still struggling to reconcile pasture mass, growth rate, estimated pasture intake and cow performance as cows continue to be returned to paddocks to clean up when we thought the pre-graze mass was right for the intake being targeted.

Figure 3: Average pasture cover (kg DM/ha) season to date


  • Areas of 2019 winter crop paddocks that were too wet to re-establish pasture in spring were worked a few weeks ago and now ground conditions have allowed for them to be drilled.
  • We aerated more paddocks this week which brings us to a total of 8.5 paddocks. When doing our grazing plan we need to account that these paddocks may take a knock and need some time to recover post-aeration. Unfortunately some of the old effluent pipe got damaged from the aerator due to uneven depths of the pipe; we will need to apply effluent to other parts of the farm while this gets fixed.
  • Milk graphs show the continued general theme of more milk per cow in the Kale farmlets, though much of this can be attributed to the difference in supplements fed.

Figure 4: Milk solids production (kg MS/cow/day) farmlet comparison


  • Milksolids/ha shows the impact of stocking rate on total milk yield from each of the herds.  With cooler weather and less heat stress, plus the last of the slightly-too-long pasture conserved, most herds have seen a bump in production, except for the LI Kale.

Figure 5: Weekly Milk solids production average (kg MS/ha/day) farmlet comparison


  • Our second pregnancy scan was completed on the 4th of March (see results below) and we are pleased with the results following a challenging spring and early summer and a 10.4 week mating period. Over the next few months we will interrogate this data to look for treatment trends. Having a tally of our empties also allows us to start to go through our discretionary culling list. 

Table 4: Herd average reproduction statistics

LI Fbeet
STD Kale
LI Kale
Herd size 193 163 194 163
% herd submitted to AB 99.0% 97.5% 99.0% 99.4%
% CIDR 6% 6% 5% 4%
% 6 wk IC rate final 71% 70% 73% 69%
Scanned MT rate (cows on farm) 14.0% 12.7% 8.9% 12.3%
Not in-calf rate (repro status unknown due to culling pre scanning) 14.0% 14.8% 9.7% 13.5%
  • Of note is the higher percentage of 2016 and 2017 born animals NOT in calf in the fodder beet farmlets (Table 5).

Table 5: Herd average reproduction statistics the numbers in brackets below the % figures are the number of animals of that year group in the herd.

Year Born Pink Blue Green Yellow
2008 0% (1) 100% (1)
2009 0% (2) 0% (1) 0% (1) 0% (2)
2010 20% (5) 25% (5) 25% (4) 25% (4)
2011 0% (7) 0% (4) 40% (5) 29% (7)
2012 13% (15) 23% (13) 12% (17) 100% (2)
2013 0% (19) 22% (18) 27% (15) 6% (16)
2014 7% (29) 21% (24) 9% (32) 13% (24)
2015 8% (36) 14% (35) 3% (38) 19% (36)
2016 20% (41) 6% (32) 22% (41) 11% (36)
2017 8% (40) 6% (32) 13% (40) 9% (34)
  • We have booked in a milk test confirmation of pregnancy for last herd test in April to ensure no empty cows are wintered.
  • The calves were drenched and had their liveweight and stature measurements taken this week. Preliminary results are the FB calves have gained 0.86 kg/day and the kale calves 0.79 kg/day in the last 28 days. Matrix is now being used for parasite control as the calves have all reached the minimum liveweight for its use.

Animal Health

  • Lameness continues to be a major issue on farm and we attribute it mostly to soft feet from continuous wet weather and laneway damage following the floods. We have planned some maintenance on the races with rotten rock to be applied to 100m out of the shed down one of the races and rice gravel used to fix the bottom race that had water flow over. We have discussed the use of copper sulphate mats but these are difficult to keep clean so we have decided that the best option will be zinc supplementation through the diet.
  • X2 culls left this week (Johnes and mastitis). We have booked in x5 empty culls from each farmlet to go at the next available time. Liver biopsy’s will be done on these animals (x12) to get a Copper status for determining our pre-winter trace element supplementation strategy.
  • We have noticed a few lice eggs on the coats of our calves and will be working with the vets to determine the most appropriate treatment action.
  • At next week’s herd test a Johnes test will also be undertaken to identify any positive animals to be considered as part of our culling strategy.

People Management and Visitors

  • We had a Health and Safety meeting last week. We reviewed a few things such as a better safety reporting system. The team is going to try the app ‘Job Done’. Hopefully this will allow us to have better team management options and better data collection.
  • Coming up we have
    • BCS accreditation training on-farm on 27 March
    • A Nuffield Farming Visit on 31 March
    • Lincoln Schools outreach programme visiting on 1-2 April

Research on-farm

  • Botanical dissections are complete! The trend of higher clover seen last season has continued for the LI farmlets with 18.3% and 17.4% clover for the LI compared to 10.3% and 8.5% for the Std. The LI had slightly less ryegrass at 57.4% and 52.5% compared to Std. 61.4% and 64.2%.

Table 6: Botanical % split for each farmlet

% Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
White Clover 10.3 18.3 8.5 17.4
Ryegrass 61.4 57.4 64.2 52.5
Dead 17.0 14.9 13.9 18.9
Other grasses 9.2 6.1 9.7 8.3
Weeds 2.1 3.4 3.6 2.9
  • This week was our nitrogen intake measurement week where the research team did pre and post grazing plating for at least two paddocks in each farmlet and take pasture samples for quality analysis. We will report the pasture quality results next week. 

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: