2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 15th August 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 15th August 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 5
Rainfall (mm) 8.8
Dry cow Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 7 + 7 10.6 + 3
Springer allocation 5 pasture plus 5 baleage
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 15.3kg DM
Milk Allocation 15.7 15.7
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 89 92 83 87
Springers 84 54 77 42
Colostrums 19 9 15 16
Milkers 10 14 26 25

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week higher cover paddocks are beginning to show noticeable signs of lodging. Average pasture covers for the farmlets are sitting around 2500-2600kg DM/ha, with top cover paddocks at 3500-3600kg DM/ha. Yield and appearance of paddocks at the top end of the wedge have been assessed and allocated to colostrums or milkers on this basis. The drier high cover paddocks will be grazed by colostrums and the better quality paddocks grazed by milkers.

Figure 1: Lodging in high cover paddocks

 

  • We are sitting comfortable for feed supply but realise it is important to graze high cover paddocks as well as possible to prevent poor quality pasture in the second round.
  • We had been experiencing a slower than expected calving rate for the Std kale farmlet. The graph below shows that the FB cows and LI Kale are running ahead of schedule, but the Std kale cows, although starting well, slowed through the end of last week.
  • We are expecting a big influx of calves over the next week so have decided to do a big springer draft to prevent any animals calving on crop. The decision was made to split the kale springers into two mobs. This will make it easier for staff to identify calving cows when in mobs of x75 rather than one large mob of x150 cows.

Figure 2: Actual vs. estimated calving date for Kale and FB farmlets

 

  • It has been a priority to keep the dry cows on crop for as long as possible to prevent them from grazing and damaging paddocks on the milking platform. With a total of 1ha kale crop left for the mid and late calving kale cows, their crop allocation will be reduced to 7kg DM/cow/day and baleage increased to 7kg DM/cow/day. In the image below there is a clear difference in the quality of the kale crops and how much is utilised. The cows utilised less of the thick, stalky kale (left), whilst the thinner, softer, more palatable kale was grazed right down (right).

Figure 3: Quality difference in kale shows how it affected utilisation

 

  • The kale crop will be finished before calving ends so alternative options are being explored to prevent damage to milker paddocks. These include earmarking a paddock they can standoff on and be fed supplement; this paddock would then go grass to grass. Another option could be to use them to tidy up behind the milkers on the platform.

General Notes:

  • The Hub had its first milk pickup of the season last night. The kale and FB milkers are still being milked as one mob, next week they will reach their x100 cow threshold and be split into kale and FB mobs. 
  • We continue to monitor the farmlet spring rotation planners (SRP) and feed budgets.  We have gone through much less area than budgeted for by the SRP; 11ha vs. 30ha and APC is above target on 2 of the 4 farmlets. With grazing mixed mobs at the moment we are having to ensure the colostrums and milkkers are rotating round all the farmlets as evenly as possible. This will become easier to manage once we split the milkers into fodder beet and kale animals at the beginning of next week.
  • Colostrums and milkers are being block grazed with fresh pasture being offered twice per day. 
  • Although things are getting busy on farm we are continuing to ensure we are implementing good management practice on our crop paddocks – having the back fences and portable troughs moved up regularly/
  • The kale R1’s are on a diet of 2.5kg baleage, 1kg PKE and the rest pasture. Their rotation is quite fast due to low pasture cover and wet paddock conditions on the support block. The FB calves are still on a diet of 70% FB and 30% baleage and have about 2.5 weeks left of crop.
  • The cows were BCS this week. The kale herds averaged BCS 4.9 and FB herds at BCS 5.1. Results for the kale mobs were disappointing and we will be revisiting our autumn management and winter feed budgets for these two herds to ensure a better outcome next year. We have confidence in getting BCS onto cows on fodder beet but with the area currently dedicated to kale and the yields we are achieving the kale feed budget continues to be tight.

Table 3: Body condition score

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
BCS 4.9 4.9 5.1 5.1
% less than BCS 4.5 7 9 1 3
  • Training heifers through the shed in the month leading up to calving is really paying dividends now. The stress on staff and heifers is much lower and we are experiencing far fewer kicky heifers compared to last season.
  • Although still only at the start of calving we have now had x6 sets of twins! We have also experienced some larger calves being born.

Figure 4: Replacement calves

 

  • Soil test results came back last week. The average Olsen P has decreased slightly (2018 Olsen P average of 26 vs. 2019 Olsen P of 23) but the minimum Olsen P paddocks have increased from previous years (from an average of 7 to 12), resulting in a smaller range between highest and lowest paddocks.

Animal Health

  • Calving is a busy time however it is important not to lose focus on other animal health issues that can arise. We have experienced a few cases of pink eye, treated two cows for mastitis, and experienced a few cases of lameness. There has been no trend in the cause of the lameness but a contributing factor is likely to be soft feet.
  • Loose lick P supplement has been finished but we will continue applying DCP to baleage for the FB dry cows; DCP, MgO and limeflour to the colostrums and MgO and limeflour to the milkers.

 

People Management and Visitors

  • We are continuing to milk the colostrum and milker herds OAD in the afternoon. This allows the farm team to concentrate on new mums, springers, cows on crop and calves in the morning.

Research on-farm

  • We have started on the measurements on the calves with all replacements having a blood sample collected on arrival to the shed and then again 24 hours later. They are also weighed and measured. Kale and FB calves are kept separate and feed gold colostrum from their respective dams for the first 48 hours and are then moved into mixed mobs.

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:

https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/research/research-farms/southern-dairy-hub/