2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 13th August 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

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 13/08/2020 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 13 Aug 2020  Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
% % % %
Calved 11 10 9 16
Springers 24 29 23 29
Early/Mids 33 26 26 22
Lates 23 27 26 24

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 13/08/2020

Soil temp (C) 6.4
Rainfall (mm) 24.6
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Dry cows on crop 6.5 crop + 6.5 baleage 9 crop + 3 baleage
DCP 50 g/cow/d
Springers 5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d
5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d + DCP 50 g/cow/d
Colostrums 15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 50 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 50 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week we had a few more wet, cold days and which has resulted in a slight drop in soil temperature down to 6.4 degrees. Our growth rates are sitting around 14-16kg DM/ha/day.
  • Based on soil temperatures and predicted weather conditions the decision was made to wait to apply Ammo. This will also allow us to graze off more winter grass paddocks and for the soil temperature to be consistently above 7 degrees and rising. You can read more about N application timings and rates here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/news/tactical-use-of-nitrogen-fertiliser/
  • Our spring rotation planners are in action and 3.4 ha/day has been allocated to use across milkers, springers and colostrums this week. Each farmlet has extra area compared to the SRP, however, the Std. FB area is more aligned with the SRP due to having had more grazings by springers and milkers in their paddocks. Average pasture cover is tracking slightly above the feed budget target value and although we have budgeted for supplement to be fed this week we do not require it as this stage.
  • The LI Kale paddocks at the top of the feed wedge are approximately 200 kg DM/ha less than the other farmlets so cows may require supplement in these paddocks to hold the rotation. The top end of the feed wedges are lower than last year and as milker numbers increase lower pre grazing covers will need to be taken into account and supplement added as required.
  • Currently the colostrums and milkers are being milked once a day and when the milker mob reaches x150 cows it will be split into kale and FB and go to twice a day. Having split mobs again will allow more flexibility to bring in inshed feeding for the kale mob and baleage to the FB as required.

Figure 1: Milkers enjoying their grass on a sunnier day

  • With only 2 part paddocks of kale remaining the decision was made to slow the dry kale cows down to keep them on crop and off the milking platform for longer. The ratio of kale:baleage will be decreased to 50:50 (6.5kg: 6.5kg)

General Notes:

  • It is interesting to look at the calving spread and percentage of cows calved per farmlet (as seen in table 1). The LI FB cows have calved the most at 16% vs. the Std. FB cows that have only calved 9%. Overall cows calving to date have calved on average is 4-8 days earlier than the planned calving date for individual cows. 
  • We had our first milk pickup last night which officially marks the start of our milk production season.

Figure 2: First milk pickup

  • Tomorrow the Sci team will BCS the milkers, colostrums and FB dries. When a cow calves it is common for her to lose BCS and hence the importance of hitting BCS targets at calving. 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 right, 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. Early calving cows should be gaining BCS before planned start of mating. You can read more about BCS targets and impacts through out the season here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/media/5790781/body-condition-scoring-reference-guide.pdf
  • We had a night where a few small, wet, cold calves were brought in. We have found that tubing them with warm milk and the use of calf covers and hot water bottles to be very effective methods of warming them up and giving them a great start.

Figure 3: Calves warming up with their covers and full bellies

  • Our yearlings are doing well at the support block and will finish grazing crop this weekend. Plans are now in place for them to head off to grazing in September.

Animal Health

  • This week we had x5 down cows from the springer mob which we feel was attributed mostly to hard calvings and cold, wet conditions limiting mineral intakes. Minerals are being dusted onto the pasture breaks immediately before the cows are moved but with the squally showers coming through it will be affecting utilisation. 

People Management and Visitors

Research on-farm

  • On the research front we are finalising all the data collected during the winter period and have had to hire a metal detector to try and locate the behaviour devices that we lost in the mud during the behaviour study.
  • We are still doing crop yields and quality for the animals still on farm and will start with the monthly pasture sampling later in August.
  • We are also in the final planning stage for an experiment continuing to look at the impact of kale and fodder beet feeding in late pregnancy on the calves at birth through to puberty. 

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:

https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/research/research-farms/southern-dairy-hub/