2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 22nd April 2021

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

*If you are struggling to view the tables and wedges you can download the pdf here

NB: Hatched bars are 2021 springer paddocks.

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 15/4/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 22 Apr 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 166 140 162 138 606
Sick/penos 3 2 2 3 10
Dries 6 4 3 1 14
Autumn culls 28 19 30 20 97

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 22/4/2021

Soil temp (C) 13.6
Rainfall (mm) 18.2
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 15.0 kg DM pasture
Inshed feeding = 2 kg DM/cow/day equivalent
15.0 kg DM pasture
Inshed feeding = 2 kg DM/cow/day equivalent
15.0 kg DM pasture
1-1.5 kg DM fodder beet plus baleage as required
15.0 kg DM pasture
1-1.5 kg DM fodder beet plus baleage as required

Key Decisions: this week

  • It has been a challenge to hit target residuals in some paddocks this week, especially in paddocks that been aerated. We feel that what has been measured by the plate has underestimated what is actually in the aerated paddocks resulting in a higher pasture allocation than anticipated.

Figure 1: Aerated paddock


  • With the end of the season fast approaching we are likely to only have one more grazing per paddock left at our current 35-40 day rotation. It is imperative that we hit target residual before shutting up paddocks for winter as this will ensure we have better quality pasture in spring.
  • Slowing our rotation length has helped to bring down the average pasture cover. After experiencing good winter pasture growth last season we are targeting around a 1900kg DM/ha dry off cover which will give a bit of flex should extra growth occur post dry off. All farmlets are starting to track down to this cover, however the Std. FB has quite a bit more grass and did not require any extra baleage last week.

Figure 2: APC relative to autumn feed budget


  • The kale herds will continue with inshed feeding (2 kg DM/hd/day) whilst the FB farmlets will start grazing FB in-situ on Friday 23rd April and will receive baleage as required.
  • We have decided to graze rather than lift and feed FB in their pasture paddock. With up to 45% leaf on the crops at the moment this DM would be wasted if we lifted the crop. We considered using a beet bucket but from previous experience this results in a lot of soil in the harvested material making it difficult to determine how much is being fed. Grazing will allow us to open up paddocks in preparation for wintering. To minimise time on concrete for these herds they will go back to recently grazed paddocks close to the crop paddock for an hour until all animals are through the shed so they can all go onto the crop together. Once the paddocks are opened up and all the bulb consumed they will be held on the grazed area of the crop paddock until milking has finished and then given their beet break.
  • For FB transition we will work off a time methodology. This includes: 20 mins/day for 3 days then 30 mins/day for 4 days. Cows will also receive 50 g DCP/cow.day dusted on their pasture paddocks.
  • The tech team continue with their crop yields this week. In some paddocks the FB has lots of leaf and smaller bulbs, however this was the case this time last year and the crop did pick up and increase in bulb size; we hope this happens again.

Figure 3: A photo Tash took whilst out measuring FB crop

General Notes:

  • Milk production continues to have some variability despite cows having more than enough pasture in front of them. We are still waiting to receive the pasture quality samples and this may shed some light on what is going on but our hypothesis at the moment is that the DM% is very low and this is impacting DM intake. The new grass paddocks have been particularly problematic.

Figure 4: kg MS/cow/day from farmlet comparison

Figure 5: Weekly average milksolids production for each farmlet (kg MS/cow/day)

Figure 6: Weekly average milksolids production for each farmlet (kg MS/ha/day)


  • We had hoped last week to spread some of our effluent via umbilical. Our pond is currently sitting at 28% and it was discovered that it was too low for the stirrer to reach down and the pump was sucking air. We will have to wait till next spring when soil conditions allow to remove the solids.
  • The calves at the support block have now been weaned off their meal. We may look at offering them baleage as required.
  • The contractor has been on farm doing lane maintenance.

Animal Health

  • Cows in each herd with poor locomotion scores are being drafted out in batches and their feet assessed. Most are just requiring a tidy up and a few have needed their toes trimmed. Most of the feet are very hard which is encouraging given our focus on hoof management through our mineral supplementation programme.
  • We had a down cow this week however she was still very alert and bright. After having the vet and doing blood tests it was discovered that she was deficient in Ca and P. We will look into our N intake samples to see if the pasture is low in P and whether some extra dusting needs to occur.
  • We have been stripping the herd twice/week and found two mastitis cows on Monday. They are being treated and we continue to be vigilant in assessing all cows.

People Management and Visitors

  • Last week we had the DairyNZ Body Condition Scoring course on farm. Both Billy and Tash completed the course and are now qualified body score assessors.

Research on-farm

  • Next week we will be presenting SDH results at the DairyNZ Farmers Forum Farmers’ Forum 2021 – DairyNZ
  • Come along and hear how the farm systems are performing with regards greenhouse gas emissions and N surplus and find out what indicators indicate when cow lying time is being compromised and your Plan B needs implementing.

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: