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: this week

  • The first group of cows were dried off this week – these were early calving, light BCS cows that have to gain at least 0.9 BCS units before winter if they are going to achieve their pre-calve BCS target. The group comprised x6 Std Kale, x4 LI Kale, x2 Std FB and x1 LI FB. The majority of these cows are rising 3 year olds so need to get back to BCS 5.5 by calving. Due to differences in BCS gain between crops over winter the kale cows need to be 0.5 BCS units better at dry off to achieve calving targets. 
  • 5 culls will leave the farm next week – these will be the lowest producing and highest SCC empties
  • X1 pdk in the Std Kale farmlet has been dropped out for conservation and will be mown Saturday. We have tried to push feed forward but with the current strong wedge in the Std Kale farmlet and the long rotation last week we have decided to take a paddock out. This baleage will be earmarked for early feeding as ground & weather conditions will make it challenging to get it as dry as earlier in the season  
  • We are continuing to focus on setting up for next season and this week made the decision to put all herds onto OAD milking on Wed 7th April. The main drivers for this decision were to:
    • Ensure pre-winter BCS targets are achieved – with one third of the herd required to gain 0.5 BCS units before the 1 June and current gain less than 0.05 BCS units/week despite in herd OAD milking and priority feeding we believe this is the best option to maximise the number of cows milking to the end of the season and achieving our BCS targets
    • Reduce the risk of lameness in the last 2 months of lactation and free up time for the farm team to do some preventative hoof management 
    • Free up farm team time to get crop paddocks fully set up before the end of April
    • Allow milk production to settle before our next herd test on the 13th April
  • We are continuing to stagger the grazing of our 2021 springer paddocks with the remainder to be included in the grazing plan at the end of next week. Decision criteria for springer paddocks include:
    • Farmlet requirement for crop
    • Location
    • Season to date and historical DM production
    • FVI cultivar
    • Flood risk 
  • Two paddocks are on the lower terrace but these are considered of the lowest risk for flooding from the Makarewa. 

General Notes:

  • Despite the farm team doing another round of bolter pulling last week there are still a few popping up in all crops so we will continue to keep a watchful eye on them. Last week they also found a beetroot plant in the crop and this week it was a sunflower!! It is essential that all bolters are pulled, especially for paddocks that we plan to sow in fodder beet again the following year. A bolter will drop thousands of seeds making fodder beet cropping in subsequent years very difficult as germinating bolter seeds will compete with normal fodder beet and impact yield potential.

Figure 2: Sunflower in the fodder beet crop


  • We have completed our first set of crop yield measurements and there is quite a range of yields for both crops between paddocks (Table below). The fodder beet average is very similar to the same time last year but with slightly more leaf. There is one poor performing kale paddock that is dragging the average down below that of last year. Interestingly this paddock is very tall but the stems are thin and the plant population low.


Table 3: Average March crop yield for the 2021 and 2020 seasons

  • Milk production has been up and down again this week and the reasons for this are not clear. Cows are not grazing below 1600 kg DM/ha and have been very settled. During the farmwalk this week we noticed that the pastures are starting to open up as the annual species die out but the calibration cuts suggest that pre-graze masses are higher than the plate is estimating so they are definitely not short of feed!!!. 

Figure 3: kgMS/cow/day from 26th Feb farmlet comparison


  • X1 cull left the farm this week and she decided to take herself on a tour of the cowshed and science area before she departed!!
  • All cows were body condition scored this week and we have seen a slight easing of the average suggesting we may have overestimating them 2 weeks ago but a reduction in the proportion that are less than BCS 4. There are no cows below 4 in the Std Kale and LI FB herds but 8% in the Std FB and 3% in the LI Kale. At the same time as the BCS assessment was being completed Charlie and Dawn did an assessment on the low BCS cows to determine who needed to be dried off. 

Animal Health

  • We continue to see a constant rotation of cows through our lame mob which sits around 10 animals. 
  • Calves at the grazier were weighed and drenched this week and the ones at support block will be done next week. 

People Management and Visitors

  • This week we had the local National MP’s on farm for a visit. They were interested in hearing about the research we are doing at the hub.  
  • Both Billy and Tash completed their BCS training next week. We currently have Vinnie doing his PiTO Level 5 and Vinny the PiTO Milk quality module. 

SDH Research

  • Each week the technical team take measurements to calibrate the rising plate meter – ‘calibration cuts’. Below is an example of how the information is used to fine tune our farm walk information. Based on the current equation a paddock that plated at 19 ‘clicks’ on the rising plate meter would be estimated at 3160 kg DM/ha using the winter equation (hgt x140 + 500) compared with 3502 kg DM/ha using the calibration equation (hgt x 170 + 272). The calibration equation indicates have a steeper slope to the line (x 170) compared to the winter equation (x140).

Figure 7: Height x mass relationship from calibration cuts on the 25th & 30th March


  • 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

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: