2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 15th April 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

NB: Hatched bars are 2021 springer paddocks. Pdks 41 and 79 were grazed this week and 44 is scheduled for a quick graze as cover will be too high if left till spring

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 15/4/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 15th Apr 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 160 132 157 139 588
Priority feed 52 53 4 6 115
Sick/penos 5 0 3 2 10
Dries 6 4 3 1 14
Autumn culls 28 19 30 20 97

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 15/4/2021

Soil temp (C) 14.5
Rainfall (mm) 9.8
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 15.0 kg DM pasture
Inshed feeding = 2 kg DM/cow/day equivalent
15.0 kg DM pasture
Inshed feeding = 2 kg DM/cow/day equivalent
15.7 kg DM pasture
1.3 kg DM baleage/cow/day
16.5 kg DM pasture

Key Decisions: this week

  • Based on current milk production and the variation we have observed during the week we have decided to start inshed feeding to the kale herds (2 kg DM/cow/day) and baleage to the fodder beet herds (1.4 kg DM/cow/day). This requires us to lengthen the rotation slightly to 35-40 days. As growth slows we anticipate the rotation will drop to closer to 32-35 days.
  • The Std FB herd has surplus pasture and it is too late to make baleage so the dries and lame cows will be used to take some feed out of paddocks at the top of the wedge. This herd will not need baleage until early next week.
  • We will be weighing a selection of purchased bales from the different sources and taking samples for quality analysis so we can finalise the winter feed budget. Bales from one supplier are bigger than our normal bales so we need to confirm the kg DM/bale for our winter crop allocation.
  • With all herds on OAD we have some flexibility on when cows move paddocks during the day. To continue fine tuning our pasture allocation & supplementary feeding the farm team will be recording when herds move paddocks relative to the plan
  • After further discussion we have decided to rearrange the grazing direction for 2 of the crop paddocks so they are grazing into the prevailing weather. This will require a revision to our baleage placement plans for these paddocks but will give us more flexibility for baleage management during winter and make it easier for staff to get mineral supplements to the mobs.
  • We will start transitioning the fodder beet herds to beet next week and have decided to graze rather than lift and feed in their pasture paddock. With up to 45% leaf on the crops at the moment this DM would be wasted if we lifted the crop. We considered using a beet bucket but from previous experience this results in a lot of soil in the harvested material making it difficult to determine how much is being fed. Grazing will allow us to open up paddocks in preparation for wintering. To minimise time on concrete for these herds they will go back to recently grazed paddocks close to the crop paddock for an hour until all animals are through the shed so they can all go onto the crop together. Once the paddocks are opened up and all the bulb consumed they will be held on the grazed area of the crop paddock until milking has finished and then given their beet break.
  • DCP dusting will commence when we start feeding fodder beet
  • With the pond at 30% capacity we have decided to get the umbilical system in to clean out the thicker material from the bottom of the pond, especially from around the outlet. 1 paddock from each of the four farmlets will be identified to receive this material. Criteria for selection includes – not in the FVI experiment, not an effluent paddock and 10-15 days post grazing

General Notes:

  • Milk production has been very erratic for all herds this week despite cows having more than enough pasture in front of them. We have pasture quality samples scheduled for next week which might shed some light on what is going on but our hypothesis at the moment is that the DM% is very low and this is impacting DM intake. The new grass paddocks have been particularly problematic.

Figure 1: kg MS/cow/day from 28th March farmlet comparison

Figure 2: Weekly average milksolids production for each farmlet (kg MS/cow/day)

Figure 3: Weekly average milksolids production for each farmlet (kg MS/ha/day)


  • Cows in each herd with poor locomotion scores are being drafted out in batches and their feet assessed. Most are just requiring a tidy up and a few have needed their toes trimmed. Most of the feet are very hard which is encouraging given our focus on hoof management through our mineral supplementation programme.
  • Aeration of paddocks has continued this week
  • With growth rates continuing to be at or above our demand and the estimates in the feed budget APC continues to be above our target line. Of most concern at the moment is the Std FB farmlet but we have put some plans in place for this week to pull the APC down.

Figure 4: APC relative to autumn feed budget


  • With the exception of the LI Kale herd, less inshed feed has been consumed than predicted in the autumn feed budget. The Std Kale and LI FB have also consumed more baleage than was predicted however overall less supplementary feed has been consumed this autumn than budgeted and APC is higher than predicted so we are still in a good feed situation across all the farmlets.

Table 3: Autumn feed budget supplementary feed – predicted vs actual to date

Baleage (bales) Inshed (kg)
Predicted Actual Difference Predicted Actual Difference
Std Kale 0 7 +7 20518 17575 -2943
LI Kale 24 14 -10 12942 15650 +2708
Std FB 34 26 -8 8754 4173 -4581
LI FB 22 24 +2 6412 3927 -2485
  • APC across the farm is considerably higher than the same time last season with the exception of the Std Kale herd where the removal of one paddock for conservation last week has pulled the cover close to last years average.

Figure 5: Weekly average pasture cover season to date for each farmlet

Figure 6: Monthly average pasture growth rate season to date for each farmlet

Animal Health

  • We still have a constant rotation of cows through our lame mob which sits around 10 animals. Some cows come out and some go in. We are hoping that the change to OAD and the hoof management we have now implemented will help us see less lameness.
  • Body condition score is trending in the right direction for all the herds

Figure 7: Herd average BCS for the season

Figure 8: BCS range for each of the herds at this weeks assessment

People Management and Visitors

  • This week we had MPI welfare assessors on farm upskilling in locomotion scoring and also discussing criteria for assessment of cows grazing winter crops. We have been able to share the information from our research last winter with those conducting the training to provide practical assessment criteria. The fact that this training was occurring indicates that wintering practices for the grazing sectors will be under scrutiny this winter more than ever so we all need to be doing our part to ensure good animal welfare and environmental practices are being implemented.
  • The farm was visited by a member of the Ruakura Animal Ethics committee this week. Because the farm is a research farm all experiments have to be approved by the ethics committee and our facilities and processes audited.

Research on-farm

  • Feed quality assessment is continuing on our four satellite farms. A summary of the results from the March sampling are in Table 4 below. Of note is the very low pasture DM content for 3 of the four farms.


Table 4: Average feed quality data from the four satellite farms for March.

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: