2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 21st November 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 November 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 10.9
Rainfall (mm) 23
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 19 19
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% milkers in Penos/OAD 2% 1% 2% 2%
% TAD Milkers 96% 96% 91% 95%
% OAD milkers 4% 4% 9% 5%

Key Decisions: this week

  • Conditions on farm have been very wet this week due to the large amount of rainfall and limited dry periods. This has made hitting residuals hard, especially in paddocks that have become quite wet and muddy. Where residuals have not been achieved and paddock conditions are OK cows have been sent back to clean up. If soil or pasture conditions were too met the paddocks have been earmarked for supplement in the next round.
  • Two paddocks that had been skipped over in the rotation for the Std Kale herd have been brought back into the round and grazed this week to extend the rotation and give the remaining paddocks more time to reach pre-graze covers
  • 1x Std Kale and 1x LI Kale paddocks have been topped post grazing to try and remove the thick, dead base for next round. 1x LI FB paddock was earmarked for topping but was too wet following grazing so will be cleaned up next round. 
  • The LI kale paddocks appear to have the better quality pastures with less seed head present, whilst the other farmlets with a lot of seed head have been harder to graze down, even when cows have been sent back. The photo below shows the clear visual difference between paddocks that have an earlier heading date vs. those that do not.
  • The contractor arrived this week and harvested half of our shut-up paddocks (x2 paddocks per farmlet). The table below shows the number of bales and kg DM/cow for each farmlet with the most bales and kg DM/cow made on the Std FB paddocks and least on the LI FB.   
  • Due to the unsettled weather we could not gamble on cutting all the baleage at once so will cut the rest this week before the proposed wet weather on Wednesday next week. All baleage made is marked by farmlet and date and stored in their groups so that they can be fed to the correct farmlets. To speed up the ensiling process given the conditions for baling were not ideal, inoculant was applied to all baleage harvested.

Table 3: Baleage conserved off each farmlet (x2 paddocks/farmlet)

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Bales 65 50 66 46
Kg DM/cow 73 67 75 62
  • We continue our 3rd round of nitrogen to Std. farmlets this week at a rate of 25kg N/ha as urea. Std. paddocks cut for silage will receive an application of N fertiliser and the LI paddocks will receive an effluent application post-harvest.
  • DAP was applied by helicopter to paddocks at the runoff that missed it when the rest of the paddocks were done.

General Notes:

  • We once again had a very dismal day for pasture walk this week. The Science tech team had to battle wind, rain and hail. These conditions are also not ideal for accurate pasture measurements and make the covers vary more from those visually assessed. Growth rate still continues to be high in the 61-72kg DM/ha range for the plate and 67-86kg DM/ha/day for the visual.
    We are still observing a 100-200 kg DM/ha difference in estimates between the plate and visuals (Table 3). The cows are suggesting that the actual amount is probably somewhere between the two. We continue to monitor APC and pre-graze masses on each farmlet separately and take the appropriate action to avoid covers getting away on us. If a mower is required our preference is to utilise surplus grass to make baleage rather than topping to waste behind the cows if pre-graze covers are too high to achieve residual. 

Table 3: Average pasture cover and growth for plate and visual assessment

APC Plate GR Plate APC vis GR Vis Rotation (all area)
Grazing paddocks Grazing paddocks
Pink 2410 71 2221 86 21
Blue 2349 64 2084 67 24
Green 2367 61 2201 71 16
Yellow 2630 72 2300 86 30
  • With the arrival of the contractors and a break in the weather a few more incomplete jobs could be started and finished this week. Today our grass to crop ground was ploughed, ¾ of the 2nd year kale paddocks have been power harrowed and ready for their fertiliser application, and all other paddocks were ploughed ready for sowing. Due to wanting to avoid planting into wet, tacky soil, the second year FB paddocks have still not been sown and is now of high priority.
  • The contractors have been fantastic at sticking to our winter grazing plans. Critical source areas and areas we did not want to put into crop or to be worked due to being high risk areas over the winter periods have been avoided. In the image below you can see where grass has not been sprayed and the contractor has avoided. It is of course also important to remember that when putting in buffer zones and avoiding critical source areas that more area may need to be planted in crop due to extra area left out.

Figure 2: Different crop paddocks on farm sprayed out with CSA and buffers identified and avoided by the contractor


  • The tech team made the observation when doing pasture cuts this week that slug numbers are increasing (Figure 3). We will continue to monitor these especially with one paddock of direct drilled grass soon to be established and hopefully young crop plants emerging once they are sown.

Figure 3: Slugs observed in areas being pasture sampled this week


  • With the improvement in growing conditions this also means increased thistles. A contractor will be out over the next week or so to spray thistles on farm. The farm team have been doing a great job with the prills but in some paddocks there are just too many thistles to control by hand. 
  • Mating has been tracking along ok but a bit quiet over the last two days with Std. FB mob definitely the obvious laggards. Friday is the end of the 3-week submission period and we will report our 3-week submission rate next week.
  • This week was herd testing and BCS. The herd average BCS has taken a small drop which can be attributed to quality of feed and increased seed head and poor weather conditions. Although still sitting at an average BCS of 4.4/4.5, all animals identified below BCS 4.0 will be put onto OAD.

Table 4: Average BCS of farmlets and % less than BCS 4.0

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
BCS – milkers 4.5 (-0.1) 4.4 (-0.2) 4.5 4.5 (-0.2)
% Less than BCS 4.0 4% (+4) 5% (+4) 4% (+2) 4% (+3)
  • Milk production has taken a toll this week. In the graph below the milk production trend for the week can be seen with farmlets averaging 1.84kg MS/cow/day for the Std. FB, 1.7kg MS/cow/day for the LI FB, 1.88kg MS/cow/day for the Std. Kale pink, and 1.87kg MS/cow/day for the LI Kale.

Animal Health

  • We still continue to have lameness issues on farm due to cows with soft feet.
  • Remaining milk fed and recently weaned calves will be weighed tomorrow.
  • Calves at the support block are to receive a copper bullet tomorrow.
  • One mastitis cow treated this week. Milk sample has been sent away to check the type of mastitis.

People Management and Visitors

  • With a bit more free time the team have been doing a great job around organising procedures and putting systems in place.
  • Following the departure of Maricel, who has moved into full time employment, the tech team are on the hunt for someone to join our farmwalk team each Wednesday from 9 am till about 1.30 pm. This casual role requires a reasonable level of physical fitness as it involves walking either a third or half the farm using the rising plate meter to measure pasture height. Other casual work is also available from time to time when the team have a lot of additional animal measurements. If you think this is something you would be interested in please contact Anna Clement – anna.clement@dairynz.co.nz

Research on-farm

  • This week is N intake week. This involves the techs doing pre and post plating of all paddocks grazed from Monday morning to Thursday to estimate herd dry matter intake. Pasture samples are also collected from all the paddocks grazed during the week for quality determination. Combining this information allows us to estimate the N intake of the herds once a week each month.  

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: