2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 14th March 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 14th march 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 15.1
Rainfall (mm) 3.4
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 16.0
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.41 (- 0.05) 1.31 (- 0.03)
Average milk fat (%) 5.29 (- 0.01) 5.41 (- 0.04)
Average milk prot (%) 4.27 (+ 0.05) 4.33 (+ 0.02)
Average SCC (cells/ml) 163 (+30) 139 (-8)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 170 158 158 130
Milkers – OAD 17 9 26 21
Other/Penos 2 4 2 6

Key Decisions: this week

  • Push all the herds out to a 33-36 day rotation using supplements as required. This will require 36-hour grazing in all paddocks plus one paddock at 48 hours for the 3 farmlets with only 20 or 21 pasture paddocks.
  • If less than 2 kg DM is required to fill the deficit on the kale farmlets PKE will be offered during milking. If more than 2 kg DM is required the supplement will be a combination of PKE in-shed and baleage made from their respective farm systems.
  • There will be an assessment made during milking on how quickly the cows are consuming the PKE to determine how much we can realistically offer during milking
  • Any deficits in the fodder beet herds will filled with baleage made off their farmlet during the season.
  • Nitrogen fertiliser applications to all paddocks on the LI Kale farmlet will be completed this week.
  • Low producing empty cows will be identified and removed from the farmlets as soon as we can get them off farm. There is more pressure to remove culls from the Std kale herd to reduce demand and the amount of supplement required to fill the gap. This farmlet currently has the highest effective stocking rate due to the autumn new grass paddock still being out of the rotation.

General Notes:

  • The cows have been very content under the 24 hour grazing regime and we are hitting residuals more consistently following the changes to the pasture allocation


  • The 3 paddocks stepped over for conservation 2-3 weeks ago were conserved this week yielding 50 kg DM/cow baleage for the Std FB herd and 24 kg DM/cow for the Std kale herd.
  • The second side dressing of N to the second year crop paddocks was completed this week
  • Crop yield assessments will commence next week for the 19 paddocks on the farm. This information will be used for winter feed planning.
  • Pasture growth continues to be at or below demand for all herds, prompting the decision to get the first group of culls away. Interestingly growth on the LI Kale farmlet was lower than the other farmlets this week, possibly reflecting the decision to start the last application of N on this farmlet 2 weeks later than the others.
  • Supplements are required for the Std Kale herd and the LI Kale herd (only for the next couple of paddocks). Baleage will be removed from the LI FB herd as their pregraze covers are back on the target line.
  • The team are continuing to keep an eye out for bolters and wild turnip in our crop paddocks.
  • Having completed the final scan last week all the reproduction results are summarised in the table below.

Table 3: Pregnancy scan results – estimated 6 week in calf rate

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Cows in herd at PSM 194 173 195 164
Cows scanned 193 171 195 164
Confirmed in calf (1st scan) - number 144 136 150 114
6 week ICR (% of cows at scanning) 75 80 77 70
6 week ICR (% of cows at PSM) 74 79 77 70
Confirmed in calf (2nd scan) - number 164 154 178 147
% Not in calf 15 10 9 9
  • Overall we are happy with the pregnancy results, however the higher not in calf rate for the Std Kale treatment is disappointing. We are currently looking back at cow condition and herd management during the mating period to see if this may have been a contributing factor. Another consideration relates to the bulls. We initially only had 2 per herd and they were not rotated. Two additional bulls were brought in to allow bulls to be rested and rotated later in the mating period.

Animal Health

  • Blood samples were collected from 2x mixed age and 2x R2’s in each herd for mineral analysis to determine what additional supplementation is required through autumn to get the levels right going into winter
  • Liver biopsies will be scheduled as well
  • We had another positive Johnes case this week.
  • 2 cows with ongoing lameness issues were assessed by the vet on Friday.

People Management and Visitors

  • Business Manager Resignation

This week I have tendered my resignation to the SDRF board effective from early May. I have enjoyed my role here working alongside the many talented and professional people associated with SDH and I am very proud of what we have achieved to date.

My wish was to be involved in the formative seasons with SDH and I will leave confident that SDH is in great hands. I have enjoyed the contact I have had with southern farmers in this role and look forward to more of the same in other opportunities I am considering.

Many thanks to all those I have been working with here at SDH, it’s been a privilege and we still have a busy time to work through until my departure in May.

Kind regards


  • An Environment Southland contracted ecologist has been on site this week assessing the biodiversity of the vegetation where SDH borders the Makarewa river. The cover is predominantly willow, elderberry, blackberry and native muehlenbeckia vine with some hawthorn and holly. The most abundant natives are round leaf coprosma and pittosporum. Other notable tree species observed were Mati, kahikatea, ribbonwood, totara and kowhai.

Research on-farm

  • The tech team are 3/4rds of the way through the botanical composition assessments on all the paddocks on the farm. Samples are taken just prior to grazing
  • This week we completed the second of our samplings to look for any differences in nitrogen excretion between the 4 farm systems. This involved the collection of blood, urine, faeces and milk from 2 successive milking’s plus our regular monthly feed intake estimates and feed quality determination.
  • The calves were weighed again today so the results will be reported next week. They are currently being run in 2 mobs of approximately 95 each. Grain feeding has stopped to those that were in the action group based on MINDA weights

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 ProposalsThe 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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: