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

NOTES: Hatched bars are paddocks that have been stepped over for conservation

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 19/11/2020 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 19th Nov 2020 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current Herd Numbers 196 163 194 164 717
Milking TAD into vat 170 142 166 140 618
Milking OAD into vat 26 16 23 17 82
Sick/penos 0 5 5 7 17

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 17/11/2020

Soil temp (C) 14
Rainfall (mm) 21.6
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 19 kg pasture 19 kg DM pasture 19 kg DM pasture 19 kg DM pasture

Key Decisions: this week

  • We have continued with an aggressive approach to surplus management with growth rates sitting above demand for the Std herds, even when we exclude the area of the paddocks already stepped over for conservation from the pre-graze target calculation. Fingers crossed we haven’t been too confident in assessing our current position and growth trends going forward.
  • Post graze topping will continue to manage seed-head emergence as required but we are hoping the move down the wedge to paddocks closer to pre-graze targets will minimise the need for this and returning cows to clean up.
  • As soon as the weather settles the baleage will be harvested to get the paddocks back into the rotation.
  • The third round of N application has started on the Std farmlets using urea.
  • The second mob of calves will start the weaning process this week with 49 calves being weaned (average weight 94 kg and gaining at 1 kg/day); 76 calves have been weaned for 2 weeks, currently average 106 kg and have averaged 1 kg growth/day.
  • Our catch crop is growing well (Figure 1) but we need to get the paddock prepared for winter 2021 kale (half) and regrassing (half). The crop will be sprayed out around the 27th November, harvested for baleage a few days prior then power harrowed and drilled the following week. Before spraying we will take some quadrat cuts and a sample for quality determination

Figure 1: Catch crop with gumboot for reference

General Notes:

  • All pasture paddocks have been regrassed and the first ones have germinated (Figure 2)

Figure 2: New grass in Std FB pdk 52


  • Another 8 cows had CIDR’s inserted this week and these will be removed early next week. The graph below shows each farmlets progress so far. The Std FB are still lagging behind the other farmlets and are now below the target 3-week submission line (Figure 3).

Figure 3: 3-week submission rate farmlet tracker compared to herd average and 3 week target line


  • Maintaining milk production in the fodder beet herds has been challenging this week despite the same grazing and supplementary feeding rules as the kale farmlets. The LI FB paddocks appear to have more seedhead development and less leaf material so although the feed wedge looks like there is sufficient pasture for this herd milk production is suggesting this is not the case.

Figure 4: Milk production kg MS/cow/week for each farmlet


  • The first fodder beet crops have been established this week with the plan for the remaining to be in the ground in the next week, weather permitting. Pdk 1 has been planted in Brunium due to the presence of Rhizoctonia in this paddock last year. The remainder of the paddocks will be planted in Jamon.   
  • With 2021 crop areas out and new grass not back in the farmlets now have different pasture areas available for grazing (Table 2). There have also been different proportions of the farmlets topped or conserved.

Table 3: Grazing area available and proportion of each farm topped or conserved this season

Grazing area available Topped Conserved
Pink 56.5 15%
Blue 57.7 24% 15%
Green 57.8 35%
Li FB 60.9 19% 24%
  • A strip of grass is being direct drilled along the edge of a second-year kale paddock that slopes down into the Makarewa tributary to increase our buffer width in the steeper parts of the paddock

Animal Health

  • Cows were BCS assessed again this week with all herds recording an increase in the proportion below BCS 4.0 (Figure 5). All these animals are on active management including priority feeding in the shed and OAD milking either in their herd or in the sick mob.

Figure 5: BCS distribution of cows in each farmlet


  • X8 additional animals have been put onto OAD (x3 Std Kale; x1 LI Kale; x4 Std green) and x4 that were already on OAD have moved into the sick mob (x1 Std Kale; x1 LI Kale; x4 Std FB) to further reduce grazing pressure.
  • The calves have received their lepto vaccination and the oldest mob are the first to get their 10:1 vaccination

Figure 6: Calves waiting in the yards after weighing


  • Lameness continues to be a challenge for all the herds with most cows having stone bruising or stones lodged in the hoof

People Management and Visitors

  • We are on the lookout for a research technician to join the DairyNZ team on site. If this is something you might be interested in or know someone who might be keen check out the details from the link below


  • A number of the farm team are continuing with Primary ITO modules

Research on-farm

  • The first area of our winter crop establishment demonstration has been sprayed out and ripped in preparation for planting

Figure 7: Sprayed out, ploughed and rolled and ripped area in 2021 fodder beet paddock


  • The November feed samples from SDH and the Participatory Research farms are back and in general crude protein levels are slightly lower than in October and ME has dropped 0.2-0.5 MJ/kg DM as pastures head into the reproductive phase.

Table 4: November pasture quality from the SDH farmlets and the Participatory Research Farms

DM% Crude protein (%) NDF (%) ME (MJ) NSC (%) Ca (%) Mg (%) P (%) K (%) S (%) Staggers index
Std Kale 14.2 20.2 44.3 11.9 21.1 0.61 0.18 0.39 2.8 0.37 1.65
LI Kale 14.7 21.6 46.1 11.5 18.0 0.52 0.20 0.40 3.4 0.37 2.05
Std FB 15.9 20.2 44.1 11.9 22.1 0.51 0.19 0.38 2.6 0.35 1.65
LI FB 15.9 19.9 43.8 12.0 22.8 0.53 0.17 0.39 3.1 0.33 2.00
Eastern Southland 16.4 20.1 41.9 12.4 23.1 0.42 0.20 0.35 3.7 0.31 2.60
Northern Southland 15.7 22.2 41.8 12.3 22.1 0.40 0.17 0.37 4.1 0.36 3.10
West Otago 19.5 12.3 43.9 11.8 31.1 0.49 0.14 0.33 2.8 0.19 2.00
Tairei 15.2 22.2 42.8 12.0 21.4 0.62 0.22 0.38 3.0 0.41 1.60
  • Results are starting to come through from our winter behaviour study. We will continue to bring preliminary findings from the research as they are summarised. There was a good range of weather conditions across the 5 weeks of monitoring (Figure 8) which resulted in differences being observed in soil conditions between the kale and the fodder beet herds (Figures 9).

Figure 8: Rainfall, air and soil temperature during the monitoring period

Figure 9: Average pugging depth throughout the monitoring period (pugging was measured by recording how far a 30 cm ruler could be pushed into the soil without hitting resistance).

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: