2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 21st March 2019

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 21st march 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 15.5
Rainfall (mm) 0
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 16.0
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.29 (- 0.11) 1.40 (+ 0.09)
Average milk fat (%) 5.48 (+ 0.2) 5.56 (+ 0.22)
Average milk prot (%) 4.27 (+ 0.06) 4.38 (+ 0.08)
Average SCC (cells/ml) 183 (+26) 162 +23)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 171 156 156 132
Milkers – OAD 16 9 24 22
Other/Penos 2 6 5 3

Key Decisions: this week

  • Continue with the current pasture allocation to achieve a grazing rotation of 35 days. This requires one paddock per week from each farmlet to be grazed for 48 hours so paddock order for grazing takes this into account
  • On several farmlets there are paddocks mid wedge that are 30+ days post grazing; these will be grazed in the next 7 days
  • Potential crop paddocks for winter 2020 for each farmlet have been identified and will be soil tested to determine the ones most suitable for crop next year. This will allow time for any nutrient deficiencies to be addressed before planting. Each farmlet has a split of crop paddocks between the top and bottom terraces to minimise risk and half are first year and half second year paddocks to minimise the area out of grazing in late spring.
  • Currently no supplementary feeding is required for any of the herds
  • Keep pressure on the stock agent for space to cull the first batch of empty cows from each farmlet
  • Complete the N applications to the 15 pdks across the farm that have not received their Feb/Mar application

General Notes:

  • Growth on the LI farmlets exceeded demand with many of their paddocks sitting above the target line on the wedge. Residuals will be monitored and if necessary paddocks identified for conservation.
  • Four paddocks have been topped this week to reset residuals after inadequate grazing in the previous round
  • During the farmwalk this week the team noticed white pigmentation on the outer edges of the clover leaves. Samples will be taken early next week and send off for trace element and mineral determination in the clover.


Figure 1: Leaf edge pigmentation damage in clover


  • Discussions with our Ravensdown rep suggest it could be a potassium (K) deficiency as no K fertiliser has been applied this season; However, we will do the analysis and develop an action plan based on the results.
  • 400 bales of baleage for winter crop have been purchased and will be placed directly on the crop
  • Crop yields have been completed on all the fodder beet paddocks on the milking platform this week and the kale paddocks will be done next week. Samples are in the oven to determine the DM content of the leaf and bulb from each paddock but in the interim we have used 8% for the leaf and 14% for the bulb (the average DM% from April last year) to estimate the yield for each paddock
  • There is a very large range in estimated yield from 9 T DM/ha in a 2nd year paddock very badly impacted by poor seedbed preparation and a resulting heavy weed burden to 21 T DM/ha in a crop that followed kale last winter. Full results will be reported next week when we have the actual DM%
  • The winter crop allocation calculator https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/feed-management-tools/ is being used to guide the set up each paddock for grazing – it allows us to estimate the number of days grazing per paddock for each mob, the baleage spacing and how many bales we need. Each herd will be wintered in 2 mobs – one of R2s, R3’s and light mixed age cows and the second of the rest of the MA cows.
  • For next years’ crop paddocks consideration was given to the following factors:
    • Pasture production last year and season to date this year
    • Physical location ie top or bottom terrace; road boundaries, neighbours
    • Environmental factors – slope, proximity to the creek, critical source areas
    • Other research i.e. forage value index comparison
    • Historical factors – cropping history, Alliance activities
  • Planning is well underway for managing BCS targets during autumn and winter. BCS and calving date triggers are currently being developed for R3’s and mixed aged cows to determine when they are put onto OAD or dried off https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/body-condition-scoring/bcs-strategies/ .
  • We have been approached by a neighbour wanting to bring trees they are harvesting through the farm as it is their only option of getting them out of where they are growing. We are working through the implications of this for the research and our grazing plans. 

Animal Health

  • SCC has crept up for all herds this week. High SCC empty cows have been identified for the first round of culling.
  • Cow flow on the laneways is definitely slowing and cows are tending to hang around on the laneways after milking rather than heading straight back to the paddock
  • The calves received their final oral drench this week (will move to a pour-on going forward) and their first Vitamin B12 injection. The second B12 injection will be given prior to these animals going onto crop
  • From the weighing last week, the average weight gain across all calves for the last month was 0.6 kg/day. The biggest individual gain of 1.3 kg/day was observed in the mob of calves receiving grain. Grain feeding has stopped and the mobs resorted into two similar sized mobs with the smaller calves in one and the larger calves in the other. Both groups are balanced as close as possible for kale and fodder beet replacements.
  • Liver biopsies on the cows have been discussed with the vets and these will be scheduled for mid-April. 

People Management and Visitors

  • The farmer reference group met this week and we had a good discussion on P supplementation for our fodder beet herds, drying over average pasture covers and strategies to milk as many cows into May.
  • Key recommendations from the farmer reference group included
    • Using pasture, crop and supplement quality results to estimate the likely dietary P deficiency in the autumn and winter diets and develop a supplementation plan based on this. Given the challenges of providing P to cows during winter we will also consider autumn and spring (to springers) supplementation to minimise potential metabolic issues at calving
    • Carrying a slightly higher APC into winter for the LI Kale and LI FB farmlets as risk mitigation for poor spring growth
    • Developing OAD and dry off BCS triggers to maximise the number of animals we keep milking while still achieving BCS and pasture cover targets.
  • The SDH board were on site mid-week checking out the new infrastructure – our chairlift platform into the centre of the platform for herd testing, the riparian plantings and the new handling yards at the support block.
  • On Monday the DairyNZ Southland and South Otago team were on farm planting around the creek as part of a World Water Day Activity.

Research on-farm

  • There are only 5 paddocks left for botanical composition determination. Early indications are that the LI farmlet paddocks have 5-8% more clover than the standard farmlet paddocks but we will report the full results once all the paddocks have been sampled
  • Crop yielding is a high priority for the team at the moment so we can complete the autumn and winter feed budgets

Figure 2: Crop yielding

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 ProposalsThe 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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: