2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 18th March 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 18/3/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 18th Mar 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 171 143 166 140 620
Milking TAD into vat 111 89 137 114 451
Milking OAD + priority feed 59 54 29 28 170
Sick/penos 1 5 7 3 16
Autumn culls 23 17 26 19 85

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 18/3/2021

Soil temp (C) 15.1
Rainfall (mm) 18.2
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 17.0 kg DM pasture
Priority feeding to continue to light cows
15.5 kg DM pasture
2.0 kg DM/cow/d
Baleage as required
17.0 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE for light cows = 0.5 kg/cow equiv.
Baleage as required
17.0 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE light cows = 0.5 kg/cow equiv.

Key Decisions: this week

  • With last week’s rain, weekend sunshine and Ammo31 our grass is growing very well. Our pasture wedges are looking healthy which has allowed us to drop out some supplement. Inshed feeding will continue to BCS management cows but the Std. Kale will have inshed stopped to the main herd, baleage will be fed to the FB herds as required, and the LI Kale will continue with 1 kg inshed to their main herd.
  • With the drop in stocking rate and therefore feed demand with culls heading off farm this week any surplus pasture will be pushed forward to allow us to manage residuals rather than dropping out for conservation. The decrease in cow numbers will free up pasture for the remaining herd, safeguarding their BCS and helping to focus us on the end of season APC target and next seasons targets and requirements.
  • We were fortunate to be able to off load 60 cull cows this week. While slightly earlier than planned we were concerned that works space could be limited and therefore we wouldn’t get culls away to meet feed budget demands. We managed to find a buyer for 48 of them which left the farm in milk. If you are thinking about when to send your autumn culls away you can read more here Culling cows – DairyNZ or talk with your local DairyNZ Consulting Officer regarding decision making and trigger points.
  • Rationale for culling earlier rather than milking them longer at SDH included:
    • Our system type – being on the lower input end of system type culling is an important leaver in achieving the autumn feed budget and dry off targets.
    • Our FB herds have a finite about of supplementary feed available until the fodder beet is ready for grazing so milking culls longer could be detrimental to our keeper cows and next seasons performance if pasture growth drops below the autumn feed budget targets.
    • Space for culls is tight and we want to avoid being stuck with culls at the end of the season as we have limited ‘non trial’ area to run them on
    • Body condition score: while this is tracking the right direction we have a significant number of animals under priority management so we need to ensure they are well fed
    • Protecting average pasture cover so that end of season targets are achieved

Essentially we are now focusing on next season and ensuring our cows and pastures end the season on target so that they winter well and enter next season in the best position possible to get the season off to a strong start.

General Notes:

  • Last week we fed out baleage to the LI Kale and Std. FB to ensure they did not over graze. The approach of offering the cows a new break at night (or part of) has been implemented to ensure cows don’t go hungry when the team are off farm. During the day it is easier to keep an eye on feeding and residuals, making the team more proactive than reactive when it comes to feeding out supplement.
  • We grazed our new grass paddock where germination and growth had been impacted by argentine stem weevil and weeds. After grazing the paddock was mowed to knock the weeds and will be weed sprayed when conditions allow.
  • X4 paddocks at the support block have been shut up for baleage. Baleage made will reduce the need to purchase more for winter.
  • The contractor was out aerating paddocks this week. There were a few parts that may have indicated that conditions were slightly too dry for aeration but overall the aeration looked good. We have not aerated all our paddocks at once to minimise the impact of the reduced pasture growth that follows aeration on the autumn feed budget. We will continue through the aeration list as conditions allow.

Figure 1: Seagulls taking advantage of the aerated paddock


  • This week was our routine body condition score and herd test sampling. Firstly, it has been great to see how close the BCS camera has been in comparison to our tech teams visual assessments. This week the camera averaged BCS 4.3 for all farmlets, compared to the visual which was BCS 4.3 for LI Kale and Std. FB, and BCS 4.4 for Std. Kale and LI FB. Looking at our high risk, lighter cows we will need to make a decision based off their BCS and calving date as to whether we start to dry them off at the end of the month. Using the DairyNZ dry off calculator we can take into account what the current BCS is and what the target BCS is at calving to calculate the date these cows need to be dried off in order to achieve their targets over winter. You can calculate yours here:  Body Condition Score strategies – DairyNZ

Figure 2: Average BCS trend for each farmlet across the season

Figure 3: BCS spread for each farmlet


  • We are happy to say that milk production is 18,062kg MS ahead of last season (+7.8%). In the last week the FB farmlets have jumped up which can be attributed to good proactive management from the farm team. Residuals have been good and baleage added when needed. Hopefully with less cull cows in the mobs this will have a positive impact on per cow performance by both holding milk production and BCS.

Figure 4: L/cow/day from 26th Feb farmlet comparison

Figure 5: Average seasonal kg MS/cow/day farmlet comparison

Animal Health

  • Following the rain last week we have seen an increase in lame cows due to soft feet. The majority of the lameness has been white-line with stones in the white-line.
  • We had one cow slip this week and another with mastitis

People Management and Visitors

  • We had a visit from an agricultural specialist from the Foreign Agricultural Services of the United Sates Department of Agriculture. He was interested in discussing current trends in dairy production in the south and the likely impacts of regulation on milk supply from the region.
  • Next week we will have the DairyNZ board out to visit. We look forward to sharing our findings that were presented at the field day hosted last week and discussing strategic issues that SDRF, SDH and SDDT are grappling with.
  • The farm team cleaned all the inshed feeding bins this week. They also implemented some LEAN management principles in the drug cupboard. Their next meeting with Lynsey Stratford from PeopleMad will be next week.

Figure 6: A very tidy and organised drug cupboard to help minimise any confusion


  • SDH and the Participatory Research project are joining with DairyNZ’s step change events next week. These events are looking at steps to a future-fit farm system. There are some super interesting scenarios being modelled on x4 Southland & Otago farms, so come along and hear about the possible options that could aid your future farming system.

A policy and regulatory update will also be provided covering freshwater and Greenhouse Gases with an opportunity to ask questions.

Time: 10.30 – 1pm

More details here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/events/?region=5456&month=50796 or on the flyer in the appendix of these notes

  • SDH has an administrative position available. Please read further details on this role in the appendix of these notes

Research on-farm

  • Results from the recent pasture and supplement samples are back (table below) and it is encouraging to see how good the quality of the baleage that has been made of farm this year is. While high in DM it has good crude protein and energy. Quality across all the farmlets was pretty consistent this month.

Table 3: Average pasture quality for each farmlet and baleage for all farmlets

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Baleage
Dry Matter (%) 15.1 16.5 16.4 17.5 45.0
Crude protein (%) 21.6 22.8 20.2 21.8 20.1
ME (MJ/kg DM) 10.8 11.0 11.2 10.7 11.5
Phosphorus (%) 0.39 0.43 0.42 0.39 0.40
Calcium (%) 0.78 0.81 0.73 0.68 0.72
Magnesium (%) 0.22 0.23 0.24 0.22 0.20
  • The research tech team have been busy with pasture N intake week and monthly crop yield commences later in March. Looking into April they will be busy with BCS training and animal sampling.
  • The summer botanical composition analysis on all paddocks has been completed with the LI paddocks continuing to have a higher proportion of clover and lower proportion of ryegrass than the Std paddocks (Figures 5 and 6). There has been a steady increase in clover content in the Std FB paddocks
  • Interesting the paddock with the highest clover content of 58.5% was a Std FB paddock established in new grass last year. 70% of these paddocks belong to the LI farmlets.
  • Almost 30% of paddocks had more than 20% clover and 20% had less than 5%
  • Because of subtle differences in post grazing height between paddocks and farmlets the samples for dissection were cut to ground level hence the higher dead content than what we normally see in pasture dissections.

Figure 5: Average percentage clover for the last 3 years for each farmlet

Figure 6: Average botanical composition for each farmlet for the last 3 seasons.

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:


Administrative position available:

We are looking for our next administrative superstar, to join a fast paced and dynamic farming business. This role covers full spectrum of administrative tasks including: Monthly invoice management, payroll, admin support, meetings and minute taking, reporting and planning, recruitment and HR support, engaging with Health and Safety and more!

Located 10 minutes from Invercargill and 15 minutes from Winton, we can offer a degree of flexibility of working hours to support the right candidate.

Reporting directly to the General Manager, training will be provided on the job to ensure the right candidate can interface confidently with all of our systems, and if necessary, there may be an opportunity to split the role over two or more candidates to capture the right skills and time balance.

If you are a professional, enthusiastic, self-starter with good knowledge of Business Administration and New Zealand Agriculture, you might be the all-rounder that is the perfect fit for our close knit team!

Role details

Permanent full-time position

Remuneration Commensurate with applicant experience

Expected hours 25-40 hours/week

Working hours 8am to 5pm (Generally. Hours can be altered somewhat to fit the right applicant). Location of Work Wallacetown

For further information or to apply please follow the instructions in the ad on Trademe https://www.trademe.co.nz/3006623591

Louise Cook, General Manager

Applications Close 24th March, 2021