2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 13th February 2020

We are working on alternative ways to report our results (5 new graphs this week) and show the differences between the farm systems comparisons and are interested in your feedback via our facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you.

Figure 1: average milksolids production per cow per week season to date

Figure 2: average milksolids production per hectare per week season to date

Figure 3: average milksolids production per hectare season to date

Figure 4: Preliminary revenue vs expenditure comparison season to date

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 13th February 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 14.1
Rainfall (mm) 10.8
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 17 17
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Number milkers in Penos 3 9 2 4
% TAD Milkers 90% 84% 73% 82%
% OAD milkers 10% 16% 27% 18%

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week has focused on overcoming flooding challenges and options going forward regarding feed and crop management as the water receded. We have been very lucky to not have a lot of silt with the flooding and although the water rose quickly it has gone down on most of the farm at a similar rate.

Figure 1: Some of the debris that washed into paddocks from the river


  • We were conservative last week with our grazing plan as we were unsure of the damage to our paddocks and crop still under water. Pasture covers have continued to increase this week (see figure) so we have been aggressive with skipping paddocks for supplementation
  • We have shut x4 pdks (18%) on each of the LI farmlets and x2 pdks (9%) on each of the Std. impact paddocks. The paddocks identified were ones we had skipped in the grazing plan last week due to flooding.

Figure 2: Farmlet APC trends for the 2019-20 season


  • To ensure good baleage is made from these paddocks we need to check that the grass is not too wet and the silt has been washed off. Wet grass and silt will alter pH levels and slow down the ensiling process. We were lucky we had some rain to wash off silt and will wilt the cut pasture for x2 days so it reaches at least 30% dry matter prior to baling. If we cannot get enough drying time to do all the baleage at once we will split the cutting into two events.

Figure 3: some of the silt covered and water damaged pasture on farm


  • We have power and water supply back at the support block so the calves have been returned.
  • N will continue on the Std. farmlets to maximize growth before colder autumn temperatures arrive. We are holding off the last application of N on the LI farmlets
  • We have delayed some weed spraying on flood affected crops as we felt they had taken a large enough hit last week. The top terrace of the farm is fine, this is more for the bottom terrace and support block.
  • The worse damaged FB crops were at the support block, where they had the river flowing over them and where water has ponded for longer; the crop is still putting up new leaf and the root system is intact so we are confident it will recover
  • We are redoing the support block autumn and winter feed budget with lower predicted crop yields and a higher supplement:crop ratio in the diet. 
  • We have a few puddles remaining on farm but will work around these.
  • For those with significant crop damage following the flooding below is some advice from Brian Young PGGW Seeds based on experiences from the Taireri floods last season:
    • Don’t rush into re-sowing
    • Some pastures and crops will recover ok and will generate a better yield than a full ‘tidy’ replacement
    • If re-sowing new grass avoid cheaper short-term fixes – give the ground extra time to fully dry out before re-sowing then use a good permanent mix. Most quick fixes needed replacing earlier than initially anticipated
    • If replacing a ‘clean-crop’ crop you need to use another ‘clean-crop’ option
    • Check with your spray contractor or seed specialist before re-sowing anything
    • Club root is easily transported via flood waters – so if you are re-sowing and you suspect there is club root in the area then turnips are a better option than Rape etc and a yield of up to 8t/ha is still possible
    • There is a 2-week window NOW to re-sow with turnips – after that you need to look at options like green feed cereals, annual ryegrass etc
    • Crops under water for just 2-3 days should be ok – longer than that may need replacing – give them time just observe and get advice
    • Its ok to replace a fodder beet crop with a brassica – chemicals should not cause any issues – but check with your agronomist

General Notes:

  • Our rotation lengths have been pushed out as cows are returning to paddocks to clean up suggesting higher covers than we are predicting or a lower DMI of the cows. On this slower rotation the top paddocks are getting away on us compounded the problem hence our decision to drop out 9% of the Std farmlets and 18% of the LI farmlets for conservation. 
  • If we have been too aggressive and do happen to make a farmlet too tight, the flood damage has meant we have some ‘use it or lose it’ baleage that we can feed out now before it spoils.

Figure 4: Some good quality clover filled pasture ready to be grazed


  • From the floods we have reassessed the grazing plan in two crop paddocks due to the travel direction of water being different to what we had anticipated.
  • We did final scan on R2s this week with a 4.2% empty rate and an additional 1.6% not in-calf due to being freemartins (x3 in total).
  • We weighed calves on return to the support block and they have average over 1kg/day LW gain in the last 3 weeks. We have already started seeing signs of lung worm again so will remain on our 3 weekly drench program with another drench next week.

Animal Health

  • Inflations have been replaced in the dairy so hopefully this should fix our recent mastitis issues.
  • With the flooding we had one day were all the herds were put on OAD; they recovered well and no farmlets graded or were hit on production.

People Management and Visitors

  • We have been at the field days this week and have enjoyed meeting farmers and collecting feedback on future research areas. If you want to place your feedback on future research or complete our feedback form and rank the ideas we have sent a copy to our email subscribers and will put a copy on the facebook page. Take a photo of your completed form and post on facebook or send to 0274952239.
  • This week we have been continuing with our interviews for a 6th team member.
  • We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the DairyNZ Farmers Forum on the 3rd of March. The day is about:
    • Understanding what is driving change in the dairy sector and how to respond
    • Get updated on regional and national policy development and how to have an influence
    • Hear about the latest science happening in your region and what solutions you can use on your farm
    • Get an overview on how DairyNZ is prioritizing its efforts to best protect your future and of course hear about what has been happening at the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • With guest speakers such as Cameron Bagrie (Economist), Nadia Lim (MasterChef winner) and Tim Mackle (DairyNZ CEO) plus more. You can register here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/event-activity/farmers-forum/
  • The SDH Research Advisory Committee are looking for a Southland farmer to join our group. You will be working alongside some very talented people from DairyNZ, AgResearch, Fonterra and another farmer rep.
    • The RAC is responsible for reviewing all research applications for SDH and making recommendations to the SDRF board on which proposals fit with the goals and vision for the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • The RAC will also make recommendations on the strategic direction of research on the site. If you have an interest in research and would like to contribute to developing solutions for southern dairy farmers and can commit to up to four 2-3 hour (skype and face to face) meetings per annum we would love to hear from you.
    • In the first instance email SDDT Chair Tim Driscoll with your expression of interest and a short CV: driscolldairy@gmail.com

Research on-farm

  • The SDH Research is currently updating all the data files after a busy few months of data collection
  • Botanical dissections are continuing on all the paddocks prior to grazing. It will be interesting to see if the differences between LI and Std farmlets observed in summer 2019 are still evident this year

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:


View SDH Weekly Summary 13 February 20


For you, what emerging issues are a priority for Southern dairy farming that SDH Systems-Research should address?

Please rank your top three options from the lists below or add additional options you would like to see researched.

View lists and rank your top three options