2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 18th February 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

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 18/2/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 18th Feb 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 195 162 193 162 712
Milking TAD into vat 158 136 137 127 558
Milking OAD into vat 37 26 56 35 154
Sick/penos 4 2 4 4 14

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 18/2/2021

Soil temp (C) 16.6
Rainfall (mm) 6
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 15.6 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1.4 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16.0 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1.0 kg DM 
all cows in herd
15.9 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1.1 kg DM 
for all cows in herd
16.2 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 0.8 kg DM 
for all cows in herd

Key Decisions: this week

  • Growth rates this week are sitting on average between 50-60kg DM/ha/day of which is only just slightly higher than feed demand at current supplementary feeding rates (50kg DM for Stds and 40kg DM for LI). The Std. farmlet feed wedges are looking better than the LI, and hence additional supplement to the LI farmlets will be fed as required this week to ensure cows are fully fed and residual targets are met.

Figure 1: Farmlet monthly growth rates cross the season


  • After driving around the farm assessing residuals the LI FB cows, although in a similar position to the LI kale on the feed wedge, appear to have less pasture available. Planning to feed a bale/24 hrs (1.4 kg DM/cow) but if residuals lift this will be reduced as required.
  • This week the Std. FB have some challenging pdks that the cows may struggle to clean up. If residual not hit after 36 hrs they will either be returned for a clean up graze or if not enough for that the pdk will be topped. With seed head and lodging in some pre-graze pdks, the question is how to get the cows to clean them up without relying on post-mowing and also getting the team to differentiate between what would be cosmetic topping i.e. cutting wispy seed head, and what is strategic topping to reset residuals to ensure quality next round.
  • It was interesting looking at the two paddocks below: the left pdk is a LI FB and the right a LI kale. Both pdks were cut for supplement at the same time, however, there is more clover and a greener colour in the LI Kale pdk.

Figure 2: Regrowth from silage cut for comparison. LI FB (left) and LI kale (right)


  • There are some bare patches and lack of germination in the new grass to grass direct drilled paddocks. These paddocks were cross drilled and had slug bait applied so we are interested as to what could be contributing to this. The contractor has been booked to return, assess and resow these areas.

Figure 3: Direct drilled grass to grass pdk


  • N fertiliser continues to the Std. farmlets at 25 kg N/ha as N Protect.

General Notes:

  • We are at that time of year where next season is our priority. To protect dropping BCS and ensure we dry off at the correct BCS targets we have a few tools in our toolbox. Now that scanning results are in, we have booked some cull dates: x40 will go early March and then another x40 late March which will free up feed for other cows. If milk production continues to drop we can begin to transition herds to OAD and continue with priority inshed feeding. The autumn feed budget is being developed and pasture covers and wedges will be monitored as they will also dictate milking frequency changes.
  • The contractor cut x7 pdks at the support block and x2 Std FB pdks on the milking platform for baleage.
  • We are happy with the progress of our winter crops. Last week we specified what we take into consideration when doing our crop paddock and baleage placement plans. This included deciding on grazing direction, utilising natural shelter, direction of prevailing wind, wet parts of the paddock to avoid or graze when dry, mob sizes, bale placement, paddock dimensions and accounting for variable yields throughout. Below is a picture of our conventional vs. direct drilled kale crop; you can see where the weeds are dying following the spray on the direct drilled area.

Figure 4: Conventional (left) and direct drilled (right) kale crop

Figure 5: FB crop growing well and on its way to hit our 20t target


  • The R2s were scanned last week with 10 empty (5%), of which 5 kale (x3 Std and x2 LI) and 5 FB (x4 Std and x1 LI). The average weight of the R2s was 369kg. They have achieved this liveweight 3 months earlier than last season!
  • The calves at the support block continue to receive PKE to prevent them grazing too low into the pasture base, exposing them to parasite larvae. The PKE will also help fast track their growth rate and hopefully catch them up with the other, larger calves that were sent to grazing.
  • A few tight grazings this week have impacted the milk production on some days. It was also thought that the inshed feeding, due to the silo nearly being empty and not filling up the bins as consistently, may have caused the kale farmlet milk production to drop and then rise again when the silo was refilled on Wednesday.

Figure 6: Weekly average kg MS/cow season to date

Figure 7: Milk production (kg MS/ha/day) comparison for each farmlet

Animal Health

  • This week lameness was a little bit more under control with only x2 cows treated.
  • X2 cull cows will leave next week for Alliance to trial through their new chain.

People Management and Visitors

  • A group from Ravensdown visited the farm last week to get an update on what is happening with the research.
  • Our SDH field day has been booked in for the 10th March so don’t forget to book it into your calendar!
  • Farmer Reference Group is scheduled for the 25th Feb so please Louise know if you are interested in attending.

Research on-farm

  • After a power cut at milking on Monday afternoon disrupted the herd test which had to be rescheduled to Tue/Wed we are still waiting on this weeks herd test results.
  • The Scitech team are 2/3rds through botanical compositions of every paddock on the farm to assess the clover content. We will report these results alongside previous years as soon as all the paddocks have been measured.
  • Below is the milk urea results from January N intake sampling. Interestingly the pm samples for the kale herds have higher MUN whereas it is lower for the fodder beet herds. There is a trend towards lower MUN in the LI herds compared with the Std.

Table 3: Milk Urea (mmol/L) levels from January N intake samples

Time of sample Std_Kale (Pink) LI_Kale (Blue) Std_FB (Green) LI_FB (Yellow)
AM 2.33 2.04 2.60 2.27
PM 3.31 2.55 2.16 2.13

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: