2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 14th September 2018

General Farm Information

Table 1: Key Numbers 14th September

Milking Platform average
Soil temp (C) 8.2
Rainfall (mls) 1.2
Av. Pasture Cover (kg DM/ha) 2021 (c-dax)
2112 (plate meter)
Pasture Growth rate (kg DM/ha/day) 37 – last 7 days 37 pdks with plate
25 – last 2 weeks all pdks (c-dax)
No. of cows milking 629
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.71
Average milk fat (%) 4.83
Average milk prot (%) 3.66
Average SCC
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 17 kg DM total
Colostrum Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 14.5 kg DM pasture
Springer Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 10 kg total (baleage, hay & pasture

Table 2: Animal Summary by farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Units
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Animal Summary
Milkers – TAD 151 136 145 124 cows
Colostrum 12 11 12 10 cows
Springers 8 8 30 30 cows
Sick mob 9 2 6 7 cows
Dries on crop/baleage 68 68 68 68 cows
% of heifer replacements selected 100% 100% 100% 100%

Table 3: Feed Summary by farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Units
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Paste Summary
Average pasture cover (platemeter) 2141 2106 2128 2071 kg DM
Growth Rate (7 days, 37 pdks, platemeter) 35 38 36 41 kgDM/d
Growth Rate (14 days, all pdks, c-dax) 27 23 25 28 kgDM/d
Area grazed (season to date) 46.7 48.5 52.0 47.3 ha
Target milker intake for this week 14-21 September
Pasture kg DM/cow
PKE:Barley Blend 2.2 2.2 kg DM/cow
Fodder beet 2.0 2.0 ha
Baleage ha
Cows on Crop
Average milker BCS 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 kg DM/cow

*last 7 days from only 37 paddocks plated both weeks

Key Decisions: this week

  • The weekly pasture assessment will continue with the plate meter; this will require standardising the plating technique within the team of people completing this task to make it work.
  • Continue with 25kg N.ha fertiliser application to the low impact farmlets until all paddocks have received one application. Continue to apply 30 kg N/ha following grazing to the standard farmlets.
  • To hold pasture cover the round will be held the same as last week and the pasture deficit filled with in-shed feeding (Std and LI Kale), baleage (all farmlets) and lifted fodderbeet (Std and LI fodder beet)
  • Calves moving out of the shed will put onto regrowth in the springer paddocks until more paddocks become available for grazing.
  • Schedule a farm and science team debriefing session to discuss wintering and calving and document what worked and what we need to change for 2019.
  • Develop a paddock grazing plan for the all new crop paddocks before cultivation begins, taking into account critical source areas, gates, troughs etc.
  • Kale and fodder beet dry mobs have been combined for ease of management.

Planning is well underway for our field day on Wednesday 10th October: more details to follow.

General Notes:

  • DM test for the fodder beet bulb has returned at 14.2%DM and baleage 27.7% DM.
  • Milking cows averaged BCS of 4.7 this week
  • Pasture assessment changes
    • Following mechanical issues with the c-dax/ranger and concerns around the pasture mass predictions, this week we plated, c-daxed and visually assessed all the paddocks on the farm. While the 3 methods gave APC estimates within 100 kg DM of each other (within the expected measurement error between methods) the c-dax is currently underestimating the mass in the pre-graze paddocks. We have also observed poor alignment been in the ranking of paddocks between the c-dax, platemeter/visual scores and what we are observing with cow behaviour.
    • We considered adjusting the c-dax equation to better represent the pre-graze visual/plate data, but this would have resulted in an underestimate of the post graze mass
    • Because the pasture walk information is critical for nearly all our decision making we need to have confidence in the numbers; allocations need to be accurate to ensure consistency of feeding between the treatments and ensuring we are hitting residuals as the cows leave the paddock. Unlike a commercial farm with 1 or 2 mobs to manage it is logistically difficult for us to put herds back to paddocks for a few hours to clean up.
    • We acknowledge the challenges with plating the 104 paddocks on the farm each week but will put systems in place to minimise the risks and ensure we generate robust data   
  • The crop cultivars for 2019 have been selected: Jamon for the fodder beet and Regal for the Kale. The fodder beet will be sown at 80,000 compared to 90,000 last season. The Kale will be sown at a higher rate for the young stock to allow for a thinner, more palatable stem.
  • Fodder beet R1s are still on the milking platform and have 10 days left in their FB paddock plus additional days to clean up other lifted FB paddocks that have some beet left over.
  • Aiming to graze 7-8 ha per farmlet (approx. 2 and a half paddocks for the week). With residuals hitting lower than target, FB will be increased to 2 kg DM and for the Kale milkers in shed feeding will increase to 2.2kg DM/c/day.

Animal Health

  • One cow has been tested for Johnes; awaiting the results
  • 5 calves were tested for Rotovirus, of which one came back positive
  • There are now 21 staph cows identified from bacteriology analysis. These animals are being run as a separate herd.
  • There is a total of 22 cows on OAD based off BCS < 4.0 (std. Kale x10, low impact kale x7, std FB x1, low impact FB x4)

People Management

  • Bakura Beiatau started in the farm team on Tuesday this week.
  • We have been using a tractor driver paid on an hourly basis to help with feeding out which has taken some of the workload off the farm team.

Research on-farm

  • All replacement calves have completed their blood sampling but we continue with fortnight/y weighing and measuring
  • The approximately 860 blood samples that have been collected over the last 3 months have been submitted for analysis

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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: