2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 14th November 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

NB: The paddocks with hashed bars are additional paddocks for conservation this week depending on how grazings go; paddocks identified as surplus last week have been removed from the wedge

*If you are struggling to view the tables and wedges you can download the pdf here

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 14th November 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 11.9
Rainfall (mm) 23
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 19 19
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% milkers in Penos/OAD 4% 3% 4% 4%
% TAD Milkers 88% 93% 91% 93%
% OAD milkers 12% 7% 9% 7%

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week we continue to be faced with the challenge of hitting our target residuals, particularly in the Std. Kale farmlet. We do not want to become too reliant on mechanical assistance to hit residuals so have been sending cows back to clean up paddocks to ensure quality regrowth in the next round.
  • Although cover keeps building in paddocks we can also not afford to continue to step over any more paddocks as we are still waiting for the contractors to come and cut the first round of baleage and our rotation is already quite fast with paddocks out of the round.  We could find ourselves in a hole, especially as the paddocks out for baleage will have slower regrowth as they are already between 3500 and 4500 DM/ha
  • The weather forecast is suggesting a couple of fine days with minimal rain Sunday/Monday and then again Friday/Saturday next week so we have decided to cut half the silage paddocks on the milking platform and the paddocks going into crop on the support block on Saturday and the remainder at the end of the week. It is a risk but with unsettled weather for the next 10 days and the need to get crops in the ground we have to get things moving. 
  • This week we have noticed that the low FVI paddocks, which make up 20% of the farm, have started heading. Although their mass is relatively low, there is a lot of stem elongation and seed head which we will need to manage to ensure quality milking feed next round.
  • We continue our 3rd round of nitrogen to Std. farmlets this week at a rate of 25kg N/ha as urea. Std. paddocks cut for silage will receive an application of N fertiliser and the LI paddocks will receive an effluent application post-harvest.
  • Supplements have been removed from the farmlets except for lighter conditioned OAD cows in the Std Kale and LI Kale mobs who will continue to get 2 kg DM/cow/day inshed. 

General Notes:

  • Like most of Southland, we are waiting on contractors and settled weather windows to cut our baleage to ensure good quality supplement is made, finish working our crop paddocks and get the FB and kale planted in time to ensure good yields for the season. With the slow spring, contractors are in high demand so we will just have to be patient for when our turn rolls around. To determine the allocation of baleage to milking feed or wintering we will test all the batches of baleage made to determine the quality.
  • This week we topped x3 paddocks (x2 LI. Kale and half of x1 Std. Kale).
  • Last week we posted our freshly sown new grass paddock, this week it has already struck.

Figure 1: New grass has struck


  • After grazing new crop paddocks earlier in the week, today they were sprayed with the hope of ploughing them next week.
  • Mating is still tracking along and we have been monitoring our submission rates (now at day 14 of mating). We had chosen not to do an intensive intervention program at the start of mating which may make hitting the target 90% submission rate harder to achieve, however we will wait to see where the herds sit at day 21 before making any major management decisions. You can read more about reproduction and what your targets should be here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/Search/Results?Term=reproduction
  • Although our milk yields appear to have come off peak, the cows are still producing higher than this time last season. In the last 7 days the LI FB farmlet has produced the least at an average of 1.8kg MS/cow/day vs. the Std. Kale producing the highest average at 2kg MS/cow/day. The graph below shows the milk yield/cow variation over the last month (15th Oct to 12th November). The drop in yields this week may be attributed to cows returning to paddocks to clean up residuals and drop in pasture quality, especially in the low FVI paddocks which have gone to seed. 

Figure 2: Milk solids production (kg MS/cow/day) average over the last month for each farmlet

Animal Health

  • Calves were all drenched, vaccinated (7 in 1), received B12 and selenium this week
  • X4 culls left this week. Reasons for culling were: attitude, foot issue, persistent mastitis and a torn ligament.
  • This week x4 Std. FB and x1 LI Kale cows were treated for mastitis.
  • We still continue to have lameness issues on farm due to cows with soft feet.

People Management and Visitors

  • Following the departure of Maricel, who has moved into full time employment, the tech team are on the hunt for someone to join our farmwalk team each Wednesday from 9 am till about 1.30 pm. This casual role requires a reasonable level of physical fitness as it involves walking either a third or half the farm using the rising plate meter to measure pasture height. Other casual work is also available from time to time when the team have a lot of additional animal measurements. If you think this is something you would be interested in please contact Anna Clement – anna.clement@dairynz.co.nz

Research on-farm

  • Next week is N intake week. This involves the techs doing pre and post plating of all paddocks grazed from Monday morning to Thursday to estimate herd dry matter intake. Pasture samples are also collected from all the paddocks grazed during the week for quality determination. Combining this information allows us to estimate the N intake of the herds once a week each month.  
  • Agricom & Seedforce arrived on farm this week to establish the plots for a NZBPRA national forage variety trial which is being included in one of our 2019 fodder beet paddocks that is going back into pasture.

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: