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

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 September 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 6.5
Rainfall (mm) 5.6
Dry cow Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 10 kg DM pasture 10.6kg DM + 3kg DM
Springer allocation 10kg DM pasture
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 15.5kg DM
Milk Allocation 17.5kg DM 17.5kg DM
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 24 18 14 18
Springers 17 18 27 20
Colostrums/Penos/OAD 16 20 19 3
Milkers (total) 140 111 138 127
Milkers receiving inshed feeding (%)
Individual kgDM/cow 14% (20 cows) .55kgDM/day 14% (15 cows) .55kgDM/day
Milkers being milked OAD (%) 6 6 5 0

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week we had a few frosts which resulted in the average soil temp dropping from 7.5 to 6.5 oC which corresponded with slower pasture growth (18-30kg DM/day across farmlets).
  • With the assumption soil temps, on average, will continue to increase (with some variability due to frosts) we will be applying nitrogen fertiliser this week in the form of Ammo. N fertiliser will be applied to all paddocks <2500kg DM/ha; these include all paddocks that have been grazed and a few that have yet to be grazed but look like they require an extra boost to kick start them.

All fertiliser will be ground applied on the milking platform but due to the wet conditions at the support block a helicopter will be used to prevent paddock damage.

Table 2: Fertiliser rates to be applied

Area kgN/ha required kg/ha Ammo31 applied
LI farmlets 20kg N/ha 65kg/ha
Std. farmlets 30kg N/ha 95kg/ha
Support block 40kg N/ha 130kg/ha
  • APC have come down and for all herds except the Std Kale herd are within 100 kg DM/ha of our feed budget and SRP targets. The Std Kale buffer is slightly more than 100 kg DM/ha. However, from the feed wedge this farmlet appears to have a potential deficit developing at the bottom of the wedge where dry cows have been used to clean up milker paddocks. We will continue to monitor the situation however, N fertiliser applications happening this week we are anticipating the paddocks will grow out of the deficit.
  • Our feed budget is in line with target, however over the next few weeks extra supplement may need to be fed with both LI Kale and LI FB APC = SRP target this week. If the LI Kale farmlet does not have enough paddocks to fully feed cows for 4 grazings/paddock (1.5 ha/day from SRP) then supplement will have to be added.
  • BCS occurred this week with lighter cows <BCS 4 to be drafted into the OAD colostrum mob; lighter kale cows will also be offered 1kg/cow/day inshed feeding.

Average loss of BCS in early lactation should not be more than 1.0 BCS unit, because greater average losses indicate that too many cows have lost 1.5 or more BCS units. If calving BCS is correct, no more than 15% of cows should be below BCS 4.0 at planned start of mating. Greater losses indicate poor feeding from six weeks post-calving, ill health or a cow that was greater than BCS 5.5 at calving.

We have identified that our dry FB cows (8% of the herd) are averaging BCS 5.7. The allocation will be reduced to prevent further BCS gain as cows that are too fat mobilise more BCS post calving and are prone to increased metabolic diseases. You can read more about BCS and key times to assess here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/body-condition-scoring/

Table 3: Body condition scores

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
BCS – all cows 4.7
% less than BCS 4.5 16%
% Less that BCS 4.0 1% 1% 0% 0%
  • This week any cow that calved prior to the 22nd August has been tail painted and metri-checked by the vet. We intend to do 3 lots of metri-checking. Different calving groups have been identified with different tail paint colours. Any dirty cows will be metri-cured. 
  • Second round of disbudding will occur this week and the next mob will be moved outside, weather permitting, once their heads have healed over. Calves will also be weighed.

Figure 1: Growth stages of Jersey calves

General Notes:

  • After a long delay due to mechanical breakdowns we have pulled the pin on sowing a catch crop at the support block.
    The decision was made because we have now passed the high-risk drainage part of season, we have missed the opportunity to maximise the yield of DM to offset the costs, and we need to get new grass in as soon as possible.
    However, we are keen to get it done next year, and to get some accurate measurements of how it affected our profit and environmental outcomes.
  • Only two paddocks have been mown on farm so far as we have been able to hit residuals with the cows and clean up paddocks to ensure good quality next round.

Figure 2: Std Kale – Pink herd grazing Wednesday


  • The graph below displays a visual image of milk production (litres from Delpro) from each farmlet since the 19th August. We plan to monitor their performance each week against each other to track differences in average production.
    Season to date, the Std. FB (Green) farmlet has maintained the highest average production.  However the Std. and LI Kale (Pink and Blue) farmlets have just caught them up. Interestingly the LI FB (Yellow) farmlet cows have lagged behind the Std FB (Green) herd, even when they were grazing as a combined mob in the same paddock.
    We will continue to investigate this difference as they mobs were wintered the same and up until Friday last week had been managed the same immediately pre and post calving.

Figure 3: Milk production per farmlet since 19th August


  • There are 156 cows left to calve (x74 dries and x82 springers). Calving has slowed right down with 4-5 cows calving per day. So far this week we have had minimal assisted calvings.
  • Cultivation has commenced on the 2019 winter crop paddocks with several of the kale paddocks being ploughed this week.

Animal Health

  • As mentioned earlier, metri-checking and metri-curing is underway this week.
  • Peno mob continues to remain low with x3 cows. There was x1 down cow this week but she responded well to treatment and a calf death due to ruminitis.
  • Calves have overcome their bout of rotavirus but we have noticed secondary infections occurring such as runny eyes and sniffly noses; these are being treated promptly.
  • Cows were treated for lameness by the vet.


People Management and Visitors

  • Some of the farm team were run through the healthy hoof programme with the vet this week. We have had a few lame cows arising so increasing their awareness of what a lame cow looks like and how to treat her will be extremely beneficial for early prevention.

Research on-farm

  • We are currently in discussion with 2 companies regarding potential new research projects
    • NZPBRA cultivar evaluation trial
    • Sensors for prediction of soil nutrient status

We will provide more details when the research is approved by the RAC and SDRF board

  • With 100 replacements from each of kale and fodder beet treatments we have completed the assessment of blood parameters and stature at birth. All these animals will continue with regular weighing until weaning when their stature will also be remeasured.
  • AgR are continuing to monitor the drainage from the ceramic cups under the crop and pasture. Sampling equipment from the 2018 grazing will be removed prior to ground being prepared for regrassing. A proposal is currently being considered for the next phase of the environmental research on the site.

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: