2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 22nd August 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 22nd August 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 3
Rainfall (mm) 5.1
Dry cow Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 7 + 7 10.6 + 3-3.5
Springer allocation 5 pasture plus 5 baleage
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 15.3kg DM
Milk Allocation 16.2 16.2
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 77 80 73 74
Springers 66 43 58 44
Colostrums 22 16 26 7
Milkers 35 29 43 45

Key Decisions: this week

  • The APC this week is sitting between 2500 – 2700 kg DM/ha and decisions need to be made as to how to effectively graze high cover paddocks without jeopardising future quality. Most of the high cover paddocks have good quality on top but higher dead matter closer to the base and in some of the clumps which makes for poorer milker feed when trying to graze to residual. It has been decided to graze the high cover paddocks with milkers and colostrums to a residual of approx. 1800-1900 kg DM/ha (or higher if needed) and then clean up to a target residual of 1600kg DM/ha with dries that are no longer on crop.
  • Milk production has been lower than we had hoped for in the last week but is starting to climb. A high proportion of the milkers up until this week have been heifers so this is not completely unexpected. Because our area use has been slower than the SRP target we made the decision to utilise some of this ‘banked area’ to open the milkers up and hopefully increase their intake levels.
  • We have also decided to put the milkers onto twice a day starting Tuesday next week. The milk production per cow is starting to ramp up and we do not want to limit their milk production by keeping them on once a day for too long. Milking once a day at the start of the season as we got through the initial busy period of calving has gone really well. Not only has it reduced the time pressure and stress on staff, it has also reduced stress on the cows and allowed for more time to get the important tasks on farm done well. You can read more about milking frequencies here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/media/424985/technical_series_june_2013.pdf
  • Colostrum cows will continue to be milked OAD

Figure 1: Dawn and farm manager Charlie assessing residuals and pre-grazing quality


  • We have now reached our x100 cow milker target which means the herds needed to be split into Kale and FB mobs. We are expecting a big influx of calves over the next 7 days which will most likely mean the herds will need to be split further into Std and LI farmlets by mid next week; recreating our x4 farmlet system once again for the season. 
  • The Kale dries finish the last of their crop in the next 7 days. As mentioned above they will be used to clean up residuals following colostrums and milkers. A standoff paddock will also need to be identified to prevent damage to multiple paddocks if we get wet weather.
  • As mentioned in previous weeks we had decided to sow one post-kale and one post-FB paddock at the support block into oats to act as a catch-crop. This will occur tomorrow with a spader. 
  • The R1 FB calves are nearly finished their FB crop. Once this is grazed they will join the kale R1’s that are currently grazing pasture supplemented with PKE and baleage. Once the details are finalised and contract signed they will be sent to the grazier. 
  • Our calf rearer Andrea, supported by the farm and tech team has been doing a fantastic job rearing the calves so far. The first lot of calves will be disbudded by the vets this week and we will start the bone density trial with x40 bull calves on Sunday (see the ’Research on-farm’ section of this report for more detail).

General Notes:

  • Approximately 2 ha of FB (160 T fresh weight) was lifted and will be fed out as supplement to FB cows. DM tests will be done on the bulbs to calculate how many tonnes DM was harvested This information will then be used to update the feed budget, determine whether we need to lift more or whether there is an option to sell some. Another DM test will be taken before feeding out so we know the exact amount to feed.

Figure 2: Lifting FB on farm


  • Now that we have adequate milker numbers, herd tests will begin again on a fortnightly basis starting next week.
  • The R1s were weighed and overall gained 0.9kg/day since the last weight. Over the last 40 days the FB R1s have gained an average of 0.4kg/day and the kale R1s 0.6kg/day.

Animal Health

  • There have been a couple of deaths associated with calving difficulties this week. We have also had two heifers confirmed as empty so will be culled.
  • A fodder beet cow treated for stomach issues 2 weeks ago had not responded to treatment and was losing condition so the decision was made for her to be euthanized. On inspection from the vet it appears that she had experienced clinical acidosis. In the picture below you can see a comparison of a healthy rumen (left) with that of the affected cow. Her rumen was thickened and was smooth in places where the papillae have been ‘burnt’ off


Figure 3: On left hand side is a healthy rumen with intact papillae, on the right is the smooth rumen affected by acidosis.

People Management and Visitors

  • Calving is a busy time of year on farm for the team. Here’s a brief description of what a day in the life of our farm team looks like:
  1. Charlie/team member arrives and does the 5.30am cow and calf check.
  2. The rest of the team arrives at 7am; some go and do crop breaks and the others help with picking up calves and bringing new mums to the shed.
  3. These cows get milked and are then followed by the peno herd.
  4. In the afternoon at 2.30pm, the milkers come into the shed to be milked.
  5. All mobs are checked before the day ends and springers are checked again at 8.30pm.

Research on-farm

  • A trial looking at the impact of cow winter diet on the bone density of the calves starts this weekend. This involves tagging and rearing bull calves from x20 FB and x20 Kale mixed age cows. The bulls will be of dairy type and be treated the same as replacements for first 48 hours i.e. offered colostrum from cows that were wintered on the same crop as their mother. At 5-8 days of age they will be humanely euthanized and bone samples collected to be sent to Massey University for bone density and histology testing. 

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: