2021/22 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 16th September 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

NOTE: Hatched paddocks are springer paddocks

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 16/09/2021 – number of cows in each mob

DATE: 16 September 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Cows on Farm 201 167 196 167 731
Current being milked 177 143 163 140 623
Springers 16 12 19 13 61
Late dries 8 12 14 13 47
Slips/empty/deaths 2 1 8 1 12

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 16/09/2021

Soil temp (C) 9.3
Rainfall (mm) 51.0 mm
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 18-19 kg DM
(14-15 kg DM pasture + 4 kg inshed & baleage as required)
18-19 kg DM
(15 kg DM pasture + 3 kg inshed + baleage as required)
18-19 kg DM
(12-13 kg DM pasture + 2.5 kg FB + 1.5 kg PKE and baleage as required)
17-17.5 kg DM
(13-14 kg DM pasture + 2.5 kg FB + 1.5 kg PKE and baleage as required)
Colostrum 15-16 kg DM
(11-12 kg DM pasture + 1.5 kg inshed + 3 kg baleage)
Springers & Late dries 4-5 kg pasture & 5-6 kg baleage

Key Decisions: this week

  • It has definitely been a challenging week on farm with 51 mm of rain being recorded. Ensuring cows were well fed and minimising damage to pastures has been a key priority and as such we decided to put all herds onto OAD milking last Saturday (11 September) for an initial period of 5 days. This allowed more time for the team to get baleage and fodder beet fed out to the four milking herds, springers and colostrums and reduced cow movement in and out of paddocks.
  • A second milking occurred on Tuesday afternoon (14th September) to stimulate milk production and hopefully help reduce the impact of OAD milking
  • Twice a day milking resumed on Friday 17th September.
  • Fodder beet and kale springers are now being run as a single mob with all receiving magnesium and phosphorus supplementation
  • The last of the fodder beet dry cows on crop were removed on Monday and have joined the late kale dries being fed pasture and baleage
  • Fodder beet feeding started to the Std and LI FB herds last week and they have been transitioned up to 2.5 kg DM since Friday last week. The current beet was lifted with the beet bucket a week ago so contains leaf and bulb. We have estimated there is 15-20% soil contamination so this has been factored into the wet weight calculations.
  • DCP is being dusted to the Std and LI FB milker herds along with MgO and limeflour now that we are feeding fodder beet to them
  • Beet bucket beet will be replaced with the bulb harvested yesterday once it has all be fed out
  • We completed an inventory on our baleage stocks and compared against the spring feed budget. All herds have fed more than budgeted but it is worse for the Std and LI FB herds where we haven’t had the luxury of inshed feeding
  • To protect pastures we offered more area than the spring rotation plan, especially in wet paddocks where utilisation was low so cows were moved on early. As a result we will finish our first rotation about a week early than planned. With better conditions this week we plan to hold the area and top up with supplement but will increase area once we hit the second round paddocks

Figure 1: Area grazed compared to the SRP allocation (Std kale: top left, Std FB: bottom left, LI kale: top right, LI FB: bottom left)


  • Based on APC, finishing the first round almost a week earlier than planned, pasture damage during grazing in wet conditions and not being prepared to feed more than 2.5 kg DM fodder beet to the milkers due to acidosis risk to cows entering from the colostrum mob each day we made the decision to start feeding 1.5 kg PKE/cow/day to these herds to increase the amount of high quality supplement in their diet so they are more comparable to the Kale herds.
  • Nitrogen will be applied to any paddocks less than 2100 kg DM/ha that have not already received their first application. This will be applied by helicopter early next week.
  • Colostrum area allocation will be decreased to 80 m2/cow and the cows offered 3 kg DM baleage and 1.5 kg DM inshed feeding to reduce the area they are grazing from paddocks ahead of the milkers
  • The next springer draft will be done next Monday and all cows will have a BCS assessment at the same time.

General Notes:

  • Despite our best efforts there are going to be quite a few areas around the farm that will need remediation of pugging damage once the conditions allow. This will probably be a combination of direct drilling and broadcasting of seed depending on the extent of the damage across the paddock
  • We are down to our last two half paddocks for springers and dry cows; once these are grazed the late calvers will follow the milking herds.
  • Amazingly conditions were dry enough yesterday for the beet harvester to get in and harvest the remainder of 2 paddocks that were too wet to finish grazing during winter. We were able to drop wires onto the laneway to reduce traffic in and out of the gateways. The remainder of the beet will be harvested within the next couple of weeks to avoid any quality issues with plants bolting.

Figure 2: We were lucky to get the FB lifted after such a wet period


  • APC has dropped a lot in the last week as we offered more area and with increasing demand as early calving cows start to hit peak production. We are still tracking OK but pastures are going to be slower to respond after challenging grazing conditions so we are still monitoring closely.

Figure 3: Actual vs. predicted average pasture cover between farmlets


  • Unsurprisingly milk production took a bit of a hit when we commenced OAD milking. The bigger drop with the Std FB we attribute to insufficient supplement feeding over last weekend. The decision to go OAD milking was not made lightly as we are fully aware of the impact of early lactation OAD on lactation performance, however we needed to make changes to ensure the team had sufficient time to feed out supplements to the 6 mobs on farm.

Figure 4: Average daily MS/cow for each farmlet


  • A long calving tail for the Std FB and also a higher early season attrition rate in this herd is not setting them up for a good season

Figure 5: Season to date production comparison for all the herds


  • We are already seeing a divergence in the MS production per cow between the kale and fodder beet herds, most likely attributed to a lower ME diet being offered to the fodder beet herds before we started feeding fodder beet.

Figure 6: Weekly MS/cow season to date

Animal Health

  • We are continuing to get 1-2 metabolic cases per day, predominantly but not exclusively, in the fodder beet cows within 24 hours of calving. The majority of animals respond quickly and are only treated once. We are discussing our springer management with the vets to see if there is anything we need to change.
  • The first round of metrichecking was completed this week with x7 Std Kale, x8 LI kale, x8 Std FB and x8 LI FB cows being metricured.
  • The poo samples taken from the calves last week came back positive for rotavirus so a management plan has been put in place to minimise the impact.
  • Once the weather settles we will move x45 calves outside. They currently have access to the outside pen areas at the calf shed to acclimatise them for this move.
  • There are a handful of cows at least 10 days past their due date that will be preg tested to confirm they are empty before being culled.
  • Unfortunately we had 2 deaths in the Std FB herd this week. One was a heifer who went down on the platform during milking then fell heavily on the concrete damaging her back. Autopsy showed a rumen full of pasture but discoloured small intestines. The second was found dead in the colostrum paddock with the autopsy indicating heart failure possibly due to low blood calcium.
  • Two heifers are producing less than 5 L/day so will be culled at the earliest opportunity.
  • We have 3 bad attitude heifers that a decision is pending on.

SDH Research/Demonstration

  • It was not a great week for N intake this week but at least we have pasture and supplement samples collected that will allow us to estimate the quality of the diets being offered. Not sure the pre and post plating data will be as robust as usual given the conditions it was done in!!
  • We said goodbye to Nicole Coulter this week. She has been an integral member of the technical team supporting not only the SDH systems work but also two SFF projects across the region. Coming from a farming background Nicole has a passion for NZ dairy farmers and wanted to be involved in research benefiting the dairy sector. Nicole has decided to take an opportunity to move into a part time role to allow her more time to spend with her young family.



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: