2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 15th November 2018

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

*If you are struggling to few the tables and wedges please visit www.southerndairyhub.co.nz to download the pdf

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 15th November 2018

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 12.1
Rainfall (mm) 0.6
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 18.0
Av. Kg MS/cow/day (##incl staph cows) 1.66 1.73
Average milk fat (%) 4.70 4.82
Average milk prot (%) 3.78 3.84
Average SCC (cells/ml) 144 000 132 000
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 156 143 163 135
Milkers – OAD 25 9 14 15
Other/Penos 10 6 5 5
Staph 4 13 9 9

Key Decisions: this week

  •  Have you measured your pasture residuals after mowing for silage? At SDH the paddocks cut for silage at the weekend are not sitting at the bottom of the feed wedge based on the plate meter readings. These paddocks plated high due to the stem in the base (see photo above) holding the plate up. The farm team note these paddocks are higher in the feed wedges than they should be so refer to days since last grazing (mowing) as a better guide for next grazing. The paddocks were visually estimated at 1700 kg DM/ha and they look like most silage paddocks around the region at the moment.   
  • More paddocks have been stepped over this week to be made for surplus. When identifying which paddock is more suited for supplement, pasture cover (normally exceeding 3000-3200kg DM/ha depending on the farmlet), quality of pasture, previous residual, days since last grazing, physical features/limitations of the paddock etc. are all taken into consideration.
  • Tractor work has recommenced on farm this week. The remainder of the FB has been sown in the grass to FB paddocks and pre-emergence sprayed on. FB to FB paddocks have struck well and are currently being monitored weekly to determine when to apply the post emergent spray. Currently the FB plants are ahead of the weeds with their growth. Wet areas of young grass paddocks that we were not able to sow with the rest of the paddock will be ripped again as they are drying out well when we get days without rain!. Seed beds in the grass to kale and crop to kale paddocks are currently being prepared.

General Notes:

  • A total of 129 bales were made last week. The split can be seen in the table below:

Table 3: Number of bales cut per farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Pink Blue Green Yellow
No. of bales 61 0 54 14 129

Bales will be labelled based on their farm, paddock and date ensiled. The visual appearance of the pasture that is harvested will be noted to help with future decisions as to whether it is more suitable for milking cow supplement or wintering feed on crops. All batches of supplement made will have a nutritive value test completed.

  • The tech team have been busy over the last few weeks taking calibration cuts for the rising plate meter to see how the estimates using the winter equation (hgt x 140 + 500) compare with what is physically present in the paddocks. This process requires plating 0.245 m2 areas in a paddock, cutting all the pasture within the quadrat to ground level, washing it to remove any soil and then drying at 95°C until it is completely dry. This allows us to calculate the kg DM/ha in that selected area. We complete this process 4 times in 6 paddocks across the range of pasture mass each week to then generate an equation that converts plate meter height to estimated kg DM/ha. So, what have we found?:
    • At SDH the winter plate meter equation is currently estimating higher pasture mass than our cuts for both pre and post grazed pastures.
    • Our combined equation for the last 2 weeks has been
      • Height x 150 – 80
    • These results confirm our suspicion of a couple of weeks ago that the pastures at SDH are less dense than typical dairy pastures (as indicated by the ‘adder’ of -80 compared with +500 in the winter equation.     
  • So, what does this mean for our farm management decisions and our data?:
    • Our average pasture cover on the farm is not as high as is being predicted using the winter equation – something many of you have commented on when you have visited the farm over the last 2 months.
    • Residuals are closer to 1700 kg DM/ha than the 2000 you see on our feed wedges
    • Our visual estimates of paddocks are closer to the cuts than the winter equation plate meter estimates
  • An interesting observation during this process has been that despite the large differences in the estimates both pre and post grazing between the different methods (i.e. visual, plate using winter equation, plate using our calibration equation) the actual amount of DM available for the cows to consume (i.e. pre graze estimate – post graze estimate) is very similar between the estimation methods. Currently we have between 1200 and 1500 kg DM/ha available for the cows to eat.
  • Last Friday 64 calves were weaned. There are now 159 calves at the support block
  • The table below outlines the reproduction summary. Cows started mating on the 8th November and will be mated to premier sires until the 20th December, followed by short gestation (7 weeks AB). Hereford bulls will then be used until early January followed by short gestation again. Hereford bulls are currently out with the R2s at the grazier and will be removed on the 21st December.

Table 4: Reproduction summary

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
TOTAL COWS IN HERD 194 173 190 164
Metricured (%) 4.1 3.5 2.6 3.0
Non-cycling (%) * 5.2 5.2 5.3 2.4
Mated 14th Nov (%) 32.5 37.6 36.3 32.0
Planned start of mating 8th November

*Note: This non-cycling % is made up of 90% late calvers

  • The decision was made last week to complete this round of 30 kg N/ha on the Std farmlets to ensure all paddocks have received approx. 90 kg N/ha season to date.  Paddocks already at 90 kg N/ha will not receive N at this stage. Once the silage has been harvested the requirement for N will be reassessed based on pasture growth rates. We require at least 50 units of our 200 kg N/ha limit for late summer early autumn application to extend the rotation and achieve dry off APC targets so need to be strategic with N use over the next 4 months.

Animal Health

  • A question was asked last week regarding our metri-checking procedure. Cows were metri-checked in 2 batches by the vet; the first on 28th September, and then the whole herd again on the 29th October. From these checks, animals identified were metricured. The % of cows metricured can be seen in table 4, ranging from 2.6% to 4.1% between farmlets.
  • This week there was x1 cow death due to misadventure and x1 cow treated for cellulitis.
  • Calves have been showing signs of photosensitivity which has concluded possible early stages of spring eczema. Calves worst affected have been put in the calf shed, out of the sun, and are being treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and teat ointment.

People Management

  • Advertising is currently underway for x2 milk harvesters. SDRF is looking to explore the use of a shared role with milk harvesters for some milking’s to free the farm team up for normal daily tasks. The farm team role includes assisting the research tech team’s duties like weighing, measuring and sampling where required. This is part of the interesting work here at SDH that the farm team can be part of and we are looking to ensure this continues without interfering with normal farm requirements. A milk harvester would free up one person for other duties once a day. If you are interested in this role contact Shane the farm manager on 027 207 6012 or email farmmanager@southerndairyhub.co.nz

Research on-farm

  • The research team welcome Maricel and Tanya to the team this week. They will be helping on busy days with herd testing, pasture cuts, calf measurements and farm walks. Both have strong dairy backgrounds and have hit the ground running. 
  • Effluent samples are being taken on a monthly basis so we can calculate the N loading on effluent paddocks. Effluent applications are being tracked to ensure the farms are receiving equal applications based on their stocking rates.
  • AgResearch has installed a new type of lysimeter under one of the 2019 FB crop paddocks. Performance will be monitored next winter.
  • Prior to mating blood samples were collected from the R2’s and also a selection of mixed age cows. These are the last in our study looking at the impact of different winter crop type on blood mineral content. It will be interesting to see how the fodder beet cow P levels have responded since going back onto pasture. 
  • Research Recognition Award: This week went to farm manager Shane Griffin, for his patience with issues associated with pasture mass assessments on farm and ensuring the grazings this week simplified the measurements for estimating N intake.

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:

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