2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 19th November

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 18/11/2021 – Number of cows in each mob

DATE: 18th Nov 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Cows on Farm 196 161 195 161 713
Milking TAD 162 138 161 145 606
Milking OAD 32 21 32 14 99
Sick 2 2 2 2 8
Slips/empty/deaths 5 5 14 5 29

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 18th November 2021

Soil temp (C) 17.0
Rainfall (mm) 43.2mm
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
1 kg inshed feed
18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
1 kg inshed feed
18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
1 kg fodder beet
18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
1 kg fodder beet

Key Decisions and Why?

  • Over the next week the farm team has been challenged with being aggressive when it comes to taking paddocks out of the round if they are above the pre-graze targets to ensure that the round length remains at 25 days. There are already x1 paddock locked up in both standard farmlets and the LI Kale and x2 in the LI FB farmlet. This will be harvested as soon as there is a suitable weather window to get it off.  
  • Due to the stem elongation and seedhead emergence over the last few weeks, as well as quality of the pastures declining, we are having some challenges with our plate meter readings. Lignification in the stem is holding the plate up and suggesting there is more feed in the paddocks than is available for the cows to consume and that our residuals are too high. We will continue to use a combination of plate and visual estimates and pasture appearance in developing the weekly feed plan.  

Figure 1: Comparison of the plate meter feed wedge (left) and visual wedge (right) for the LI Kale herd 

  • Supplement will be added back in to all 4 farmlets this week, with 1kg of inshed feed being offered to the Kale herds and 1kg of FB being offered to the FB herds in the paddock. This provides some buffer in the system to step over paddocks that are above target and are poor quality as mentioned above and will ensure that the cows are getting access to high quality feed to keep milk production constant.
  • It was decided to stay at 25 day rotation as any longer and the pre graze covers are too high and any shorter, we may run in to issues pushing the round back out again as we move closer to summer and grass growth begins to slow down.
  • Strategic topping will again be used this week as a method of controlling quality. In a number of paddocks, the base residual has been left too high, therefore topping is required to reset the paddock for the next round.

General Notes

  • Due to the weather over the past week, the maintenance fertilizer is yet to go on to the paddocks still needing it.  For the N fertilizer applications for the Standard farmlets, 55kgs of coated N protect is still being applied behind the cows. 
  • This week the contractors have been in doing the ground work for next winters fodderbeet paddocks. We have had a buffer zone left at each end of the paddock as a break-out area to be used as a plan B option in periods of adverse weather. These will be planted in Italian ryegrass and harvested for baleage through until autumn. Flags were placed out as a way of indicating to our contractors where they needed to plough too. The fodderbeet is due to be drilled once the power harrowing has been completed.  

Figure 2Buffer area in fodder beet paddock to be used as a breakout area during adverse weather 

  • AI has been tracking well overall, with between 81 and 92% of cows submitted across the herds and 2 days left to go until 3 weeks. Interestingly it is the 4 year and older cows that   
  • 26 cows with CIDR’s in have had these removed this week and will be AI’d on Sunday after receiving a PG shot on Saturday afternoon. The Std FB herd are 10% behind the other farmlets for submission rates, however we have not determined why this is a reoccurring theme for this herd. This herd did lose the most condition between calving and mating however they have received more FB in early lactation than in previous seasons as a way to mitigate this BCS loss.  

Figure 3: Comparison of submission rates season to date 

Figure 4: Submission rate comparison for cows 4 years and older 

  • Drainage work has been continuing at the runoff with novaflow being laid at a depth of 2 feet to aid the water flow out of some of the lower lying paddocks. 

Figure 5: Drainage works at the support block. 

  • As we head further into the season and feed gets tighter, the decision has been made to assess the future of any cows consistently producing less than 5 litres per day with the most likely outcome being early culling. 
  • We ended up with a section of bolters around some baleage remaining in the fodder beet paddock that was lifted for spring feeding. While not going back into fodder beet for next year it was important these were removed before the seed dropped and contaminated the soil for any future fodder beet crops in this paddock.

Figure 6Fodder beet bolters being removed before they dropped seed 

  • The LI FB herd got to enjoy the bulbs from the beet that was pulled 

Figure 7: LI FB cows enjoying the bulbs from the fodder beet bolters 

  • Milk production has continued to fluctuate depending on the quality of the paddocks the cows are grazing. This was one of the reasons for reintroducing supplementary feed.   

Figure 8Herd average milk production for the last 3-weeks 

SDH Research/Demonstration

  • Results of pasture samples collected last week indicate lower average quality pasture in the LI farmlets. This supports visual observations with all the seedhead that has emerged and lack of green leaf in many of these paddocks.  
  • Crude protein levels are relatively low across all the farmlets but especially in the 2 paddocks sampled for the Std FB herd.  
  • The ‘silage’ results are from pasture pre-ensiling to give an indication of the quality of the baleage that will result.  

Table 2: Pasture and pre conserved baleage quality from last week 

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB 'Baleage'
DM% 16.4 18.1 17.5 17.2
Crude Protein (%> 19.0 16.2 13.6 15.3 15.1
Lignin (%) 6.1 6.8 5.4 6.9 4.0
NDF (%) 42.3 44.9 42.3 44.9 45.1
ME (Mj/kg DM) 11.7 11.4 11.7 11.2 11.8
  • These average results are not that dissimilar to samples collected in November in 2019 and 2020. Calcium and phosphorus levels are higher this year than in the previous 2 years.  

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:

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