2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 16th January 2020

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 16th January 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 14
Rainfall (mm) 6
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 17 17
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Number milkers in Penos 4 0 1 1
% TAD Milkers 90% 84% 73% 82%
% OAD milkers 10% 16% 27% 18%

Key Decisions: this week

  • The feed wedges are still tight for a couple of the farmlets as we move down the wedge which may require some supplementary feed to fill the deficit. Hopefully with the warmer weather and sufficient soil moisture grass growth will increase and this will not be an area of concern for long.
  • The LI kale farmlet continues to receive 1kg/cow/day in-shed supplementary feed.
  • All cows will continue to be allocated 17kg total DM/cow/day
  • Our biggest identified challenge going forward is the BCS of the herds. This week we re-assessed our farmlets based off current BCS, historic BCS changes, liveweight and age. This resulted in a significant increase in OAD (not milked in pm) cow numbers.
    • The FB farmlets have the higher % of OAD cows (as seen in table 2 above), with Std. Kale farmlet having the least (10%). This difference has been driven by our ability to offer preferential in-shed feeding to cows on OAD in the Std and LI kale herds but not to either of the fodder beet herds.
    • Our discussions going forward will be how we can be proactive with BCS over autumn within the supplementary feeding parameters of our research protocols.
    • We need to aim to get condition on cows early to manage what could be a tight winter feed budget. A useful tool for calculating dry-off mobs based off BCS is the DairyNZ BCS dry-off calculator: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/body-condition-scoring/bcs-strategies/
  • The Std farmlet rotation lengths are now being pushed out to 30 days. With the lift in pasture cover at the top of the Std Kale feed wedge we are in a better position to achieve this without supplementary feed, however the Std FB farmlet is a bit tighter for pasture. Wherever we can get an extra full or part grazing from a paddock cows will be sent back till the residual is achieved. If growth does not continue to respond to the more settled weather we will use supplementary feed to lengthen the rotation.
  • We will be quality testing and weighing bales from different batches of baleage made this season so we can determine the range in DM per bale. This information will be used to update our autumn and winter feed budgets.
  • We finalized the 2021 crop paddocks utilising annual paddock growth from last season and season to date growth for this season so that they can be set up as our 2020 springer paddocks. This really highlights that wintering in Southland is a 2-year planning and implementing process that is always front of mind.
  • We will be scheduling a full herd Johnes milk screening at the next available herd test given our history of Johnes in the herd.

General Notes:

  • It’s starting to feel a bit like summer this week with some warmer, sunny days. We have taken full advantage of the good weather and have had contractors on farm to cut and bale baleage, spray crops, bring in bought baleage and place on crops and apply fertiliser (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).
  • With better quality pasture on offer all herds have been hitting target residuals well this week.
  • As mentioned last week we have been very proactive with revising our autumn and winter feed budgets due to not making as much baleage as planned and the later planting of crops which could result in lower yields. From our budgets we concluded that more baleage would need to be bought in and our first lot of purchased baleage arrived this week (x196 bales). Due to already having our winter grazing plans drawn up and winter feed budget in place we were able to position the bales out on crop straight away.

Figure 1: Baleage already positioned on winter crop


  • The contractor made x46 bales from our LI farmlets this week – x24 bales from LI Kale and x22 bales from LI fodder beet
  • We have mown a few paddocks post-grazing this week to clean up seed head and clumps that would otherwise remain till next grazing.
  • Our effluent pond is now down to 50% capacity and we have been taking into consideration the nutrient content of the effluent when we apply fertilizer to those effluent paddocks.
  • The weekly tail paint has been touched this week identified 5-6 cows in each farmlet that had been on heat since last Thursday. Our early scan is scheduled for next Tuesday.
  • Below outlines the kg MS/ha STD, kg MS/ha/day and kg MS/cow/day production. The kg MS/ha STD shows the difference between the Std. farmlets and LI (corresponding with SR) and also the improved production of the LI kale over the LI FB which may depict the use of the additional, high energy inshed feeding which also provides imported N into the farmlet.  The milksolids/cow/day and stocking rate combination are showing interesting variations in performance, based on what cows do and don’t eat.

Figure 2: kg MS/ha/season to date farmlet comparison

Figure 3: kg MS/cow/day farmlet comparison

Figure 4: kg MS/ha/day farmlet comparison

Animal Health

  • The calves are beginning to turn the corner as their treatment program begins to kick in. Last week we had an issue with coccidiosis which was heightened with the cooler, wet weather and feed conditions at the support block. Calves received Baycox, were drafted into priority mobs, and continue to receive meal to supplement their energy intake from pasture. We have learnt that this will most likely be a on-going seasonal issue at the support block and will be more vigilant and proactive to prevent it occurring season to season as weaned calves are moved off the platform and grazed there.
  • Last week we tested a cow for Johnes and this has come back positive. The full herd Johnes testing associated with LIC herd testing will allow us to be proactive in identifying positive Johnes cows and prioritising them in the cull list.

People Management and Visitors

  • This week we conducted our first round of interviews for the herd manager role. When interviewing staff it is important to go through the interview process correctly and contact all listed referees. You can read more about how to successfully attract and employ staff here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/people/employer/starting-employment/
  • The SDH Research Advisory Committee are looking for a Southland farmer to join our group. You will be working alongside some very talented people from DairyNZ, AgResearch, Fonterra and another farmer rep.
    • The RAC is responsible for reviewing all research applications for SDH and making recommendations to the SDRF board on which proposals fit with the goals and vision for the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • The RAC will also make recommendations on the strategic direction of research on the site. If you have an interest in research and would like to contribute to developing solutions for southern dairy farmers and can commit to up to four 2-3 hour (skype and face to face) meetings per annum we would love to hear from you.
    • In the first instance email SDDT Chair Tim Driscoll with your expression of interest and a short CV: driscolldairy@gmail.com

Research on-farm

  • This week was N intake and animal sampling week on farm so we had a big team of technicians on site on Monday and Tuesday. Animal sampling involves collecting blood, urine, faeces and milk samples from 12% of each herd and analysing for N content. This information together with feed quality results from the pastures and supplements being fed allows us to identify any differences in N partitioning between the treatment groups. 

Figure 5: Our farm team got the opportunity to help with sampling this week


  • In early March we will start our annual assessment of the clover content of every paddock on the farm. This will involve taking a pasture sample prior to grazing and separating it into clover, ryegrass, other grasses, weed and dead material.

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: