2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 17th October 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

NB: Second target line represents demand on a 100% pasture allocation (post balance date) on a 20-day rotation for Std herds and 25-day rotation for LI herds

*If you are struggling to view the tables and wedges you can download the pdf here

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 17th October 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 10.5
Rainfall (mm) 2.8
Springer allocation Ad lib silage with small amount pasture
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 16kg DM pasture
Milk Allocation 19kg DM 19kg DM
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% Springers (total herd) 2% 1% 1% 1%
% Calved (total herd) 98% 99% 99% 99%
% milkers in Colostrums/Penos/OAD 8% 6% 7% 5%
% TAD Milkers (total) 92% 94% 93% 95%

Key Decisions: this week

  • Supplement inputs will be altered this week and pasture allocation increased for the farmlets to ensure residuals are hit and we keep up with increasing grass growth (as seen in table 3).

Table 3: Supplements offered to farmlets this week (kg DM/cow/day)

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
(kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow)
Pasture available
(kg DM/cow/day)
14 up to 18 16 17 16
PKE inshed
(kg DM/cow/day @ 88%DM)
4 down to 1 3
Baleage Only if required
Fodder beet
(kg DM/cow/day @ 16% DM)
2 3
  • The Std. Kale farmlet will decrease from a 30 day round to 20 day round over the next week and inshed feeding will be decreased from 4 to 1kg DM/cow/day. The other farmlets are not in a position to speed up the rotation with an approaching dip in their feed wedges due the previous rounds grazing residual, especially the Std. FB, so will stay on a 30 day round.
  • Lighter cows in the Std Kale farmlet will still receive 4kg DM/cow/day inshed feeding (not reduced to 1kg DM/cow/day) and any cows below BCS 4.0 will continue to be managed in the OAD colostrum mob. We currently have x 20 OAD cows in this mob which are supplying calf milk. All cows have a BCS assessment every 14 days and it is from this information that decisions on who goes into the OAD mob or returns to the main farmlet herd.
  • Baleage has been removed from all herds as a result of increased pasture growth and better weather conditions. We found the baleage to be of quite poor quality for milking feed and was beginning to result in some variable residuals left behind.
  • The solids from the weeping wall will be spread out on crop paddocks prior to cultivation rather than applying them to pasture paddocks as we did last year.
  • We topped one paddock this week to correct the residual left from the first round. If required, we will continue to identify and mechanically reset residuals of paddocks with high base residuals from first round. These high base residual paddocks have been more common in the FB farmlets due to not having dry cows to follow and clean up behind the milkers in the first round (FB dries were still on crop).

Figure 1: Residual of paddock pre-topping, cows were not returned to re-graze

General Notes:

  • Soil temperatures are once again on the rise this week increasing from 9.3 to 10.5oC reflecting a more even pasture growth rate of 42kg DM/ha (Std Kale) to 47kg DM/ha (Std FB & LI Kale). With these soil temps and growing conditions predicted to now be on the rise we have decided to take a proactive approach to ensure we do not have quality issues arise over the next few weeks.
  • This week our grazings started well with target residuals being met but as growth increased and with the higher amount of supplement still being fed, we started to struggle to hit target especially with the LI farmlets.
  • We continue to monitor farmlet milk production with the use of our two vats. We have observed more variation between pickups within the treatment groups (especially kale). Farm average milk solids production finished the week at 2kg MS/cow/day but herds have ranged from 1.6 to 2.4 kg MS/cow (Figure 2) on any given day. At this stage we do not have an explanation for the day to day variation in milk production within herds.

Figure 2: Kg MS/cow average for each farmlet


  • It is interesting to look at how milk urea has tracked across the season so far and the pontial impact of our longer, poorer quality first round pasture as reported a couple of weeks ago (figure 3 below). At the start of the season the trends were similar to last year but that has not been the case since late September.
    We would normally expect to see milk urea levels increase with higher crude protein content in second and subsequent round pastures especially following N fertiliser applications. You can read more about milk urea here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/nutrition/milk-urea/

Figure 3: Milk urea comparison across Kale and FB farmlets and with last year


  • We are on the final count down for cows to calve with x7 remaining.
  • Nitrogen fertiliser (Ammo 31) will be applied again this week to the rest of the Std. farmlet second round paddocks.
  • PKE has runout so we have now re-filled the silo with a blend of 30% barley, 70% PKE
  • The FB farmlets have been grazing residual crop that could not be lifted when the rest of the paddock was lifted a couple of weeks ago. The Std and LI FB farmlets have been alternating after AM and PM milkings and allowed to graze for 45 mins on the paddock.
  • Due to running short of kale the last two seasons we have decided to plant an extra half paddock (1.45ha) for the Std. Kale farmlet. We are looking at trialling strips of direct drilling through the centre.
  • The R2s were weighed, drenched (14ml Eclipse) and measured (height, length & girth) at the graziers. We are happy with their overall condition and results will be in the notes next week.
  • We have sorted bulls for the MA cows and heifers away at grazing. For the farmlets we have a total of x14 bulls, x3 bulls/farmlet (around 30:1). The heifers are at 20:1 ratio with x10 leased purebred jerseys to join them.
  • Mating is not far away and we will be recording premating heats to identify which cows may require intervention. Our initial thoughts for intervention include: 42 days or greater post-calving, under 7 years of age, metritis cured, and if a BCS issue relating to anoestrous then once a day implemented. The decision rules around selection of animals for intervention will be finalised with the vets and management team in the next week. 
  • We are completing our grazing plans for each of our winter 2020 crop paddocks so we can mark out areas to be avoided by the contractors when spraying out and cultivating.
  • We are discussing our cropping programme with our technical field reps and will complete soil mineral N analysis to determine our N fertiliser requirements for each paddock

Animal Health

  • Not much new on the animal health front this week. We continue to identify lame cows and are looking into what the main causes of this could be. We are setting quite a lot of lameness in front feet, especially in the kale herds and are wondering if this could be from the cows pushing to get onto the platform to receive their in-shed feeding.
  • We are going ahead with last weeks comments around selenium and copper. All cows will receive short acting selenium injection; only the heifers will receive copper.
  • Mastitis still sits at minimal numbers.

People Management and Visitors

  • This week we said farewell to Georgina as she moved off to her next challenge with LIC.
  • Brendon from the DairyNZ Scott farm (Hamilton) has been down for the week helping the tech team 
  • We had the tech team from Lincoln down for helping with animal sampling & measurements
  • The AgR tech team has been on site removing the ceramic samplers that were used to measure the leaching from the 2018 crop paddocks
  • Our new farm assistant Vine started this week
  • We are currently preparing for our field day on the 29th Oct. We hope to see you there and more details can be found at: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/events/southlandsouth-otago/southern-dairy-hub-field-day-october-2019/

Research on-farm

  • The first of our N intake measurement periods were completed this week. During this time we collect urine, faeces, milk and feed samples to estimate N intake and partitioning.
  • Calves are now on fortnightly weighing and will have their stature remeasured at weaning.

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: