2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 20th August 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

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 20/08/2020 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 13 Aug 2020  Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
% % % %
Calved 32 33 31 37
Calved colostrum 7 8 10 5
Springers 15 19 23 21
Dries on crop 47 41 40 36

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 20/08/2020

Soil temp (C) 5.8
Rainfall (mm) 9.4
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Dry cows on crop 9 crop + 4 baleage 9.5 crop + 3 baleage
DCP 50 g/cow/d
Springers 5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d
5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d + DCP 50 g/cow/d
Colostrums 15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 50 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 50 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
Milkers 16kg DM pasture 16kg DM pasture

Key Decisions: this week

  • With the mild weather and start to spring it has been great to be outside farming and enjoying calving. Although the 7-day average soil temperature was 5.8 degrees, at the time of this week’s Thursday afternoon meeting the soil temperature was sitting at 7.2 degrees. Pasture growth rates are similar to last week sitting at 16-20kg DM/ha/day.
  • We met with our new fertiliser spreading contractor this week to discuss our requirements and talk through the process to ensure we get the right fertiliser on the right paddocks at the right rate to achieve our research targets. We will continue to monitor soil temperatures with the aim of starting N applications once temperatures are consistently above 7 degrees and rising. We are expecting the first application to be at the end of August at which time more first round paddocks will have been grazed.
  • We are currently working through the options to ensure the same amount of sulphur is applied to the Std and LI farmlets during spring. With different application rates and numbers of applications between the Std and LI farmlets there is a risk of not supplying sufficient sulphur to the LI farmlets if we use the same product on both. 
  • With the mild weather and good pasture utilisation our actual area grazed continues to track below the predicted area of the spring rotation planner. This gives a good buffer should we get a week of bad weather and need to increase area grazed to prevent pasture damage. In the graph below you can see the actual vs. predicted area grazed; the Std. FB farmlet is closer to the target area due to more grazings by springers and milkers in their paddocks.

Figure 1: SRP predicted vs. actual area grazed


  • Our average pasture cover is also still tracking above the feed budget prediction line, although it gives some flexibility and removes the need for supplements for milkers, we need to make sure we do not build too much cover ahead of the cows resulting in quality issues this round and next. The figures below give an overview of APC of actual vs. predicted APC from the spring feed budgets:

Figure 2: Actual APC vs. predicted APC from the spring feed budget


  • The milkers went to twice a day on Monday and now that our milker numbers have increased we will split the kale cows into Std. and LI farmlets today and split the FB cows on Saturday. This is to ensure each farmlet has had one paddock grazed by a mixed mob.

Figure 3: Cows enjoying a bit of sunshine


  • The colostrum mob will continue to rotate round through paddocks on all farmlets. We have decided to graze the higher mass potentially poorer quality paddocks with the colostrums.
  • We have decided to finish off the last of the kale crop over the next week as it is lodging and the stems are becoming very fibrous. When the kale dries have finished the crop they will follow the milkers to clean up any untidy residuals.
  • Although we still dealing with winter 2020 our focus over the next few weeks will be around decision making for next year’s crop paddocks in light of the Essential Fresh Water requirements for winter 2021. We are considering options of minimum tillage will get our soil tests completed to finalise the fertiliser plan.
  • Next week we will start the process to secure the bulls required for this years mating. We were happy with the decision recommended by the farmer reference group to use Jersey bulls over our heifers last year. To date this season we have had significantly fewer assisted calvings, especially in our heifers. This year we will do the same but try acquiring 2yr old virgin Jersey bulls instead of yearlings.

General Notes:

  • From the milk graphs below the FB cows are clearly tracking higher than the kale cows and all cows are steadily increasing milk production each day. For per cow kg MS the kale farmlets are up to 1.5kg MS/cow, the Std. FB at 1.6kg MS/cow and the LI FB at 1.7kg MS/cow.

Figure 4: L/cow/day for each farmlet


  • The BCS camera is being used to track herd average BCS and the graph below includes camera BCS results since the 24th January.  While it looks like the herd has lost a significant amount of body condition in the last week it is important to note that the data being collected at the moment does not included all cows as the cows on crop are not coming through the camera on a regular basis. Looking at the 29th July, the whole herd was at BCS 5.2, cows calved by 29th July averaged BCS 5.3 and those that are currently uncalved average BCS 5.1. As the later calving cows there is still time for these animals to gain BCS.

Figure 5: Herd camera BCS averages from 24th January to 10th August


  • On Sunday kale & FB yearling mobs both finished their winter crop. They are now grazing in x2 mixed mobs being offered pasture and 1 kg PKE/animal/day. They will leave for the graziers in 10-days time. 
  • Today the yearlings had their liveweights and statures measured:
  • The FB average LW was 243 kg, average daily gain (ADG) since 25 June was 0.42 kg/day, and the liveweight range is 196-294 kg. There was 10% less than 220 kg.
  • Kale average LW was 240 kg, ADG since 25 June was 0.42 kg/day, and the liveweight range is 210-293 kg. There was 11% less than 220 kg.

Figure 6: R1 Liveweight distribution for 20th August 2020


  • As of today (20th August) we have x125 heifers out of our required x240. Today x50 of the older calves were dehorned.

Animal Health

  • We continue to have a pretty good run with minimal metabolic issues so far this season. The vet was called out once to calve a cow and put a leg splint on one animal due to partial paralysis in her back leg. We had one euthanised and the autopsy indicated she had a significant intestine infection.
  • We have had x5 cases of mastitis since the 16th August.
  • Our R2s are due for their selenium top up.  By addressing herd selenium levels we are hoping to minimise the number of retained membranes.
  • The decision was made to tail paint all cows calved up until the 20th August this week. This group will be the first to be metrichecked with the plan that this will be done at the end of August. We are aiming to metricheck cows between 2 and 4 weeks post calving so will do the herd in thirds.
  • We will sub out our old dosatron mix this week with a new mineral blend that includes organic zinc and extra selenium. We are targeting extra zinc in the hope we can get on top of the lameness problem that plagued the herd last year.

People Management and Visitors

  • Under Covid Level 2 restrictions visitors to the farm are being minimised to only those required for the farm activities and for research purposes. 

Research on-farm

  • On the research front we are finalising all the data collected during the winter period and have had to hire a metal detector to try and locate the behaviour devices that we lost in the mud during the behaviour study.
  • This week we took the first lot of monthly pasture samples for quality determination
  • A new monitoring protocol is being started on the Forage Value Index validation trial with a pasture quality sample being collected from each of these prior to grazing. The paddocks will be plated before and after grazing to estimate pasture removed.
  • The experiment continuing to look at the impact of kale and fodder beet feeding in late pregnancy on the calves at birth through to puberty has commenced. 

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: