2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 20th February 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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 20th February 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 16.2
Rainfall (mm) 0
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 16.5 16.5 (Std) and 16 (LI)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Number milkers out of farmlet herd 2 6 5 3
% TAD Milkers 80% 75% 70% 81%
% OAD milkers 20% 25% 30% 19%

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week it feels like spring growing conditions on farm. Urine patches in paddocks have bolted with the warm conditions creating large clumps which will be difficult to manage if not kept on top of.
    Seed head emergence is continuing and we have had to mow paddocks to maintain an even residual.
  • Post graze topping will be minimized to reduce the risk of landing us in a feed deficit in 2-3 weeks time due to too many paddocks being mowed. This week we have had 9-18% of the farmlets mown for baleage plus topping to reset residuals.
  • New grass paddocks will be grazed on a 20-25 day rotation to ensure cows are achieving residual and preventing the clumps getting out of control. 
    We are seeing from their growth rates that this rotation will still ensure more than adequate feed in the paddock.
  • x1 paddock at the top of the wedge for each farmlet has been stepped over for conservation again this week to get cows going into paddocks with a lower pre-graze mass.
  • x1 paddock in each of the Std and LI Kale herds have been earmarked for assessment mid next week with the likelihood they will be skipped as well.
    Paddocks identified for conservation are ones that need a tidy up so better to put into bales and get the cows grazing lower mass paddocks of better quality and hitting residual rather than topping behind with the residual to waste.
  • Back calculation from milk yield and grazings/paddock suggest the cows are not eating the targeted 17 kg DM/day.
    For this reason we have dropped the intake target from 17 to 16.5kg DM/cow/day for both kale farmlets and the Std. FB farmlet.
    The LIFB intake target has been dropped further to 16 kg DM/cow/day as they continue to struggle to achieve even post grazing residuals. What is driving this lower apparent appetite continues to be a regular topic of discussion.
  • x3 crop paddocks are on the list to be weed sprayed when weather conditions allow. 
    All paddocks are now due to be sprayed for insect pest pressure, with Diamond back moth, aphids and Leaf miner all present on the farm. 
    Fungicide is being considered for the fodder beet, but we will assess the risk of with-holding timeframes as we milk off our beet in late lactation. 
  • The x2FB paddocks on the support block were reassessed following observed damage last week following the flooding and water ponding.
    One paddock has only a small patch of affected plants while the second paddock has approximately 20% of the area significantly affected and another 30% where yield will be compromised. 
  • The winter feed budget will be revised, reducing the predicted yield and increasing the supplement ratio, perhaps to 50:50.
  • The agronomist continues to check the crops on a weekly basis.
  • Damaged bales on the crop paddocks will be removed and replaced with the some of the lower quality pasture conserved this week along with other replacement baleage sourced from off the dairy farm.
  • N applications will continue on the Std. farmlets to maximize growth before colder autumn temperatures arrive.
    The last application of N on the LI farmlets is scheduled to commence early to mid March so it is completed by the 10th April.

General Notes:

  • Last week we cut baleage; you can see the tally below with the most being conserved from the LI FB. Hopefully the strategic topping and conservation of high mass paddocks will help grow better quality grass next round. 

Figure 1: Farmlet APC trends season to date


  • The LI Farmlets each conserved 4 paddocks and the Std farmlets conserved 2 paddocks with slightly different amounts of baleage made. 
    The LI FB farmlet also had two bales made from a flood affected area of a paddock they had to graze, when the residual was left very long with the soured grass.

Figure 2: Baleage tally per farmlet from the latest harvest

Figure 3: Rapid regrowth on Friday with bales about to be collected.


  • Pasture samples collected for quality analysis post the flooding on the farm highlight the impact of siltation on pasture quality.
    The Std FB farmlet had one paddock sampled that had visible silt contamination. The ash content (indicating soil contamination) of this sample was double that of paddocks from the upper terrace resulting in an estimated ME of only 9 MJ/kg DM reducing the average quality reported for the Std FB herd (Table 3).

The LI FB farmlet also had a paddock impacted in the same way but not with quite the same level of siltation.

Table 3: Average pasture quality data for samples collected on 10 & 11th February

DM% Crude protein % ME 
 (MJ/kg DM) NDF (%) Ash (%) Phosphorus (%) Calcium (%) Magnesium (%)
Std Kale 20.3 17.2 11.0 48.1 10.2 0.37 0.75 0.21
LI Kale 17.3 20.8 11.2 43.5 10.4 0.38 0.90 0.24
Std FB 21.2 17.0 9.7 49.2 16.3 0.37 0.77 0.22
LI FB 19.9 17.8 10.3 47.7 11.7 0.35 0.74 0.21
  • The Std FB cows did a great job of grazing the direct drilled new grass paddock during the week

Figure 4: Nice even grazing of the Std FB direct drilled new grass paddock this week


  • Milk production the last 7 days highlights the variability in the quality of grass that the cows have been going into/returning to. This week we have grazed a number of the flooded paddocks.
    The general observation from the farm team was that the cows were not very settled in these paddocks. Feed going forward that is a bit shorter and of better quality should hopefully pick it back up again.

Figure 5: kg MS/cow/day farmlet comparison

Figure 6: Average daily milksolids production per hectare per week season to date

Figure 7: Average milksolids production per hectare season to date


  • We are beginning to see an improvement in BCS thanks to our proactive management of light conditioned cows using OAD milking and preferential in-shed feeding – PKE for FB farmlets and Barley:PKE blend for Kale farmlets. 
    We have reassessed the potential weight gain rates for the Fodder beet animals and reduced the number receiving priority feeding AND OAD milking. 
    The marginal cows on BCS relative to calving are just on OAD milking for the FB farmlets.  The Kale farmlets marginal cows are just on priority feeding and not OAD milking, as we have seen the priority feeding is enough to hold or build condition in these cows.
  • The Std kale and FB cow’s have not changed their average BCS compared to a fortnight ago (Figure 7; Kale 4.2 and FB 4.1) but for both the LI herds average BCS has increased from 4.1 to 4.3 primarily driven by a decrease in % of cows in the <BCS 4.0 group (Figure 8).
  • All farmlets have decreased cows <BCS 4 except for the Std Kale, but they have a very small proportion of the herd in this category compared to the other farmlets.

Figure 8: BCS fortnightly comparison between farmlets

Figure 9: % of herd less than BCS 4 at the last 2 assessments


  • When we have scanning results we will be identifying cull cows based on pregnancy status and other culling traits. We will book these in soon as possible as there could be some wait at the abattoirs due to lack of space.
    4 cows are to be culled prior to our final scan in early march, but we will have a vet visit to obtain any pregnancy data about them to get our best understanding of the reproductive performance of our herds.
  • Calves have been redrafted at the support block into two mobs. The calves in the action and recovery mob have improved significantly and we are happy with coat condition and BCS. The calves are still receiving grass, PKE and baleage.
  • All calves were drenched after 21 days again on mob average weights with 14mls Arrest; this was good timing as the calves were beginning to show signs of persistent coughing.

Animal Health

  • No mastitis cases have been detected this week, so it appears that the issues with the liners was a major contributor to the spike in infection cases.
  • The cows have been very itchy as they finish molting. Their true summer coats are very shiny as they enjoy having a bit of sun on them.
  • Lameness has been a major issue on farm and we attribute it mostly to soft feet from continuous wet weather and laneway damage following the floods. The farm team went to a lameness evening with Neil Chesterton and have come away with some great key points around management of cows to prevent lameness.
  • We have a calf with an interesting orange sized lump on her neck. A vet consultation has been booked and we wait with eager anticipation to what on earth it could be.

People Management and Visitors

  • If you want to place your feedback on future research or complete our feedback form and rank the ideas we have sent a copy to our email subscribers and will put a copy on the facebook page. Take a photo of your completed form and post on facebook or send to 0274952239.
  • We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the DairyNZ Farmers Forum on the 3rd of March
    • Understanding what is driving change in the dairy sector and how to respond
    • Get updated on regional and national policy development and how to have an influence
    • Hear about the latest science happening in your region and what solutions you can use on your farm
    • Get an overview on how DairyNZ is prioritizing its efforts to best protect your future and of course hear about what has been happening at the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • With guest speakers such as Cameron Bagrie (Economist), Nadia Lim (MasterChef winner) and Tim Mackle (DairyNZ CEO) plus more. You can register here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/event-activity/farmers-forum/
  • The SDH Research Advisory Committee are still looking for a Southland farmer to join our group. You will be working alongside some very talented people from DairyNZ, AgResearch, Fonterra and another farmer rep.
    • The RAC is responsible for reviewing all research applications for SDH and making recommendations to the SDRF board on which proposals fit with the goals and vision for the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • The RAC will also make recommendations on the strategic direction of research on the site. If you have an interest in research and would like to contribute to developing solutions for southern dairy farmers and can commit to up to four 2-3 hour (skype and face to face) meetings per annum we would love to hear from you.
    • In the first instance email SDDT Chair Tim Driscoll with your expression of interest and a short CV: driscolldairy@gmail.com

Research on-farm

  • The research team is currently updating all the data files after a busy few months of data collection
  • Data is being prepared to present at the Farmers Forum and include in conference papers that are currently being developed.
  • Botanical dissections are continuing on all the paddocks prior to grazing. It will be interesting to see if the differences between LI and Std farmlets observed in summer 2019 are still evident this year

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: