2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 14th January 2021

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 14/1/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 14th Jan 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 196 157 190 158 701
Milking TAD into vat 170 136 139 120 565
Milking OAD into vat 24 22 53 37 136
Sick/penos 1 3 1 5 10

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 14/1/2021

Soil temp (C) 17
Rainfall (mm) 5.2
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 16.8 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1.2 kg DM 
all cows in herd
17 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16.8 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1.2 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1 kg DM 
all cows in herd

Key Decisions: this week

  • We are in full swing experiencing the lag effect from significant rainfall a few weeks earlier and last week’s warm temperatures. Grass is jumping out of the ground and we have struggled with residuals this week meaning a more aggressive approach to surplus management.
  • The pasture wedges above do not seem to accurately depict what is happening out on farm and are likely to have underestimated the amount of pasture based on what the cows are leaving behind. We have post-mowed paddocks but due to the wastage left behind have decided to bale some of the residual left and be stricter with stepping over paddocks for conservation to avoid mowing and wasting pasture for future grazings.
  • Due to the extra grass all supplements have been removed from herds except for the lighter conditioned priority animals. Calves continue to receive 1 kg PKE/day.
  • Last week there was a reshuffle of OAD and TAD cows. We now have 132 cows on OAD receiving in-shed feeding, and 47 on TAD but receiving priority in-shed feeding in the Kale farmlets.
  • Our best young grass paddocks are just overdue for another grazing but due to it being N intake week we had to delay and will get into these paddocks starting Friday. Many will likely require topping post grazing to help manage weeds without more chemicals. Areas of poor establishment in pdk 52 will be resown after grazing.
  • Round five of N fertiliser is nearly complete and fertiliser will not be applied again until February.
  • Most of the kale crop paddocks have reached canopy closure and have received a round of N fertiliser – 45 kg N/ha as N protect. With current warm, moist conditions, the kale will be away in no time.
  • Fodder beet paddocks are at varying states of maturity, with nitrogen applications pending for them as they approach canopy closure.
  • The re-drilled area of fodder beet in the trial paddock is looking fantastic, with great establishment and plant density, but this week it was aggressively sprayed to protect against insect damage as a precaution.
  • Pests and weeds continue to be a challenge in the crop and new grass paddocks requiring ongoing monitoring and management. There is also a bit of crop touch-ups occurring.
  • This week one pdk for both the Std and LI FB herds were sprayed and cut for baleage as they are earmarked for grass-to-grass pasture renewal after the baleage is taken off. Both these paddocks have poor pasture species but are unsuitable for winter cropping
  • With most of our baleage requirements met, next week will need to draw up a plan for bale placement on winter crops.

General Notes:

  • The cows are continuing to produce well, and the farm is tracking 14,700kgMS (9.2%) ahead of last year, where last year was our highest producing season so far.
  • On Tuesday the bulls were removed from the herds. The cows will have their first scan tomorrow. Scanning results back from the R2s showed 86% 5-week in-calf rate.
  • The duck scaring hawks and gas bird scarer went out into the crop paddocks last week and are being rotated around to reduce the chances of the ducks adjusting to them. Below shows a picture of the large number of ducks we are battling with.

Figure 1: Large number of ducks (Quack-villains) on the kale crop


  • It has been hot the last few days on farm and the cows have been feeling it too! The cows are showing clinical signs of heat stress, which we know impacts on appetite and production.  The monitor cows with fancy in-rumen boluses should help us gather some data on this which we can share next week. Louise bought some yard sprinklers and troughs to help our poor girls out, which Charlie is working on engineering into the shed area.
    If you want to know just how much the temperature in your area is impacting cows and their THI (temperature humidity index) you can subscribe to DairyNZ’s Cool Cows Heat stress email: http://web.dairynz.co.nz/cn/agbsb/coolcowsoptin. They give weekly summaries for different regions throughout NZ. There are also loads of DairyNZ resources on heat stress and mitigations on their website: Heat stress – DairyNZ

Figure 2: Sprinklers brought to help cool cows down on the yard


  • Milk production from the kale farmlets has been better than the fodder beet farmlets over the last couple of weeks, however with the reduction in in-shed feed required as pre-graze pasture targets have lifted has resulted in the gap to the fodder beet herds being reduced (Figure 3). Overall, we are still tracking above last season for milk production season to date by 9.2% (14,700 kg MS).

Figure 3: Milk production (kg MS/cow/day) comparison for each farmlet

Figure 4: Season to date milksolids/ha production


  • 122 R1s went away to grazing this week. We kept back 99 of the smaller calves so we can continue to manage and priority feed with PKE. Next week they will all be weighed and receive Cu bolus, Se injection and drench.
  • Our LIC contract bull calf will leave the farm this week, to try his luck at joining the bull team.

Figure 5: LIC contract bull calf

Animal Health

  • We had one case of mastitis this week and managed to find two split liners even though they were replaced just before Christmas.
  • A few calves had mucky tails and were visited by the vet this week. Nothing was too major and the steps we are taking have them on the right track.
  • One cow needed vet attention as she stood on her own teat, along with another cow that had some fluid on her lung; both are recovering well.

People Management and Visitors

  • It has been a priority for all staff to take some annual leave over the Christmas/New Year period and this will continue through January.

Research on-farm

  • Our summer N intake sampling was completed this week. This involved the normal monthly feed quality sampling and pre and post plating of paddocks grazed but also includes blood, urine, faeces and milk samples being collected for N determination from 20-25 cows in each herd during a morning and afternoon milking.
  • The first round of pasture quality results from some designated monitor paddocks sampled from late November are in, these are summarised below with crude protein (CP), fibre (NDF), and metabolizable energy (ME). We will continue to monitor these paddocks at each grazing to help us understand and explain differences in farmlet milk and stock performance.

Table 3: Pasture quality summary for monitor paddocks at SDH.

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: