2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 17th December 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

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 17/12/2020 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 17th Dec 2020 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current Herd Numbers 196 162 193 162 713
Milking TAD into vat 168 145 160 143 605
Milking OAD into vat 26 16 23 17 82
Sick/penos 2 1 7 2 12

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 17/12/2020

Soil temp (C) 13.6
Rainfall (mm) 37.4
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 8 kg pasture + 5 kg inshed + 5.5 kg baleage 11 kg DM pasture + 4 kg inshed + 2.7 kg baleage 9 kg DM pasture + 3.5kg DM inshed + 5.5 kg baleage 12 kg DM pasture + 2kg inshed + 4 kg baleage

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week our farmwalk has indicated that while we have good pasture quality unfortunately it is the quantity that is limiting and that is not being helped by being on a 20-day rotation with variable growth rates. Although we have been fortunate to have had some good rain recently, the long-term impact of drying winds and overcast conditions have slowed down pasture growth and reduced cover. It was always the intention to head towards a 30-day rotation about now but following feedback from the farmer reference group this week we have decided to bite the bullet and push out our rounds for all farmlets to 30 days now. Constraints of paddock size, farmlet layout and required pre-graze pasture covers make it challenging to do an intermediate rotation length of 25-26 days to reduce the amount of supplement to fill the pasture gap until pre-graze covers lift. Consequently, we will be feeding a lot of supplement in the short term but hope that by going hard now, pregraze covers will lift and we can ease back on supplement in 7-10 days. You can read more about proactive summer management here: Summer management – DairyNZ
  • At current pre-graze covers the Std. Kale have available 8kg DM pasture/cow/day on a 30 day rotation so will be offered 5kg DM in-shed feeding and 5 kg DM baleage to makeup their full 18kg DM/cow/day allocation. We will have to slow the platform speed in order to allow all in-shed feeding to be eaten in the AM and PM. The LI Kale have more available pasture at 11kg DM/cow/day and but their ins-hed feeding with increase from 1kg to 4kg DM with 2.7 kg DM/cow/d baleage.
  • While in-shed feeding is not a routine component of our fodder beet feeding decision rules, because of the amount of supplement required to achieve target intakes with current pre-graze covers we have made an exception and will offer in-shed feed to these herds, but the amount will be minimised. Unfortunately, we don’t have any straight PKE in the silo so these herds will also receive the barley-PKE blend. Without in-shed feeding we would have been offering up to 9 kg baleage to the Std FB and 7 kg to the LI FB. 
  • The Std. FB have 9kg pasture/cow/day available and will be offered 3.5kg in-shed and 5.5kg DM baleage. The LI FB have 12kg DM pasture available and will be offered 2kg DM in-shed and 4 kg DM baleage. 
  • With Christmas next week we have decided that proactively lengthening the round now and managing the feed deficit will hopefully get us to higher pre-graze covers which will take the pressure off staff over the Christmas/New Years break when we have minimal staff on board to feed out large amounts of baleage. 
  • Unfortunately, our trial Fodderbeet crop paddock has taken a hit with bugs this week. This dry weather has seen the bugs out earlier this year with Cut worm and Nysius snacking on very small seedlings in our crop paddocks. The bugs saw any sowing type with trash as a great hiding spot and have been cutting off seedlings as soon as they appeared. More insecticide has been applied this week (despite insecticide being included in our pre-emerge) and a third round of slug bait on the direct drill Kale has been applied as the slugs have been out in force! We have decided that the direct drill FB trial crop will need resowing due to the current plant germination and survival.

Figure 1: Pest damage to FB seedlings


  • The last of the calves were weaned this week. Weaned calves receive PKE in trailers (approx. 1 kg/calf/day) to help reduce coccidiosis burdon by grazing higher in the sward. Also being drenched with Turbo®, an oral drench which helps protect against coccidosis. They received a lepto booster, selenium and B12 injection and will receive another selenium jab and a copper bolus in January when weighed.

General Notes:

  • From our farmer reference group discussions it was decided to take advantage of the warm, moist soil conditions and increase the application rate of N fertiliser on the Std farmlets (totalling 40 kg N/ha for the 5th round of application). We are expecting better response rates now with good moisture in the system rather than later into summer when the response could be variable.
  • The oats catch crop was cut this week and x26 bales made. This paddock will now be resown with 50% going into kale and the remaining 50% into permanent pasture.
  • Although conditions have been windy there have been a few breaks in the weather meaning the contractors have been busy spraying paddocks due to the large increase in bugs and weeds. We have especially noticed a lot of weeds in the new grass paddocks.

Figure 2: Spraying new grass on the lower terrace for weeds


  • Milk production reflects better pasture quality this week however still shows some variability.

Figure 3: Milk production kg MS/cow/week for each farmlet


  • Cow condition has come down slightly with all herds recording an increase in the number of cows with a BCS < 4. One option to manage body condition, lameness and having to lengthen the rotation would have been to implement a 3in2 milking regime however due to current production being above the 1.6 kg MS/cow industry trigger and due to some research constraints we have opted not to change from TAD milking. With priority feeding and OAD of light cows and lengthening the round it is hoped this will help stabilise BCS. Data from this week will be used to reassess cows for OAD milking and priority feeding. Average BCS of all herds is 4.0-4.1 and the graphs below show the distribution, with the Std. FB having the largest number BCS < 4. The next graph shows how BCS has been tracking since the start of the season and the recent decline in the Std. FB herd.

Figure 4: BCS spread across each farmlet

Figure 5: BCS change for each farmlet since the beginning of the season

Animal Health

  • We have had less lameness this week although it is expected that we continue to get a few cases as the season continues.
  • No mastitis cases this week after stripping all high SCC cows from the herd test. 
  • X1 cow will be culled due to teat injury and mastitis

People Management and Visitors

  • We had the Farmer Reference Group meeting this week. It was great to hear feedback from them on key topics including: our fodder beet establishment demonstration, altering rotation lengths, and ideas for the infrastructure project.

Figure 6: Farmer reference group discussing the fodder beet crop trial and impact of insects

Research on-farm

  • GPS collars have been put on 2 cows in each herd as a pilot to determine if all grazing events could be tracked remotely removing the requirement for our manual grazing sheet 
  • We are investigating an opportunity to insert Smaxtec boli into a selection of cows in each herd. These boli measure rumen temperature and rumination and provide a heat stress indicator, detection of feverish conditions and also detection of metabolic disease. The boli allow monitoring of aspects of animal welfare in real time which will be beneficial when transitioning animals onto crop in late lactation (fodder beet) or winter.
  • We recently updated our Research Tree – a pictorial representation of all the research projects that have been undertaken or are currently happening at SDH.

Figure 7: Current and historical research and demonstration projects at SDH

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: