2017/18 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 22nd May 2018

Cows on beet- dried off last week

Week ending 22nd May 2018

Table 1: Key Numbers week ending 22nd May 2018

Av. Pasture Cover 2145 kg DM/ha
Round Length 42 days
Pasture Growth rate 21 kg DM/day
Soil temp 5.7 C
Rainfall 32mm
No. of cows milking 434 cows
Av. Supplement used (milkers)
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.00 kg MS/cow/day
Av. Kg MS/ha
Milking frequency OAD

Week summary:

  • APC for each farmlet area is now close to dry-off target
  • Growth rates low, but similar to long term averages
  • Risk of pugging and some pasture damage on heavier, wet soils
  • Cows dried off based on BCS with some animals reaching minimum thresholds

Critical targets this week

  • Dry off remainder of the herd
  • Continue to monitor crop feeding levels, adjusting allocations daily through the transitioning period
  • Milking cows consolidated into 2 herds this week for ease of management

Four different farmlets Feed Wedges 22nd May 2018

End of season targets

  • APC target for each farmlet of 2000kg/DM/ha by 31/5/18
  • BCS Targets – M/A cows BCS of 4.5 and above minimum at 31/5. First and second calvers BCS of 5 by 31/5

Herd & Production

  • Four herds split evenly on age, BW / PW and on the winter crop trial treatment groups 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).
  • Staph Aureus has been identified in approximately 40 cows at The Hub. A high bulk SCC and cows not reacting quickly to treatment encouraged investigation leading to this diagnosis.
  • Infected cows have drafted out and are being milked last to prevent the spread of this infection.

Table 2: Herd & Production

Herds on Milking Platform Unit Value
Milkers - 3 in 2 cows
Milkers - OAD cows 434
Colostrum cows 0
Springers cows 0
Sick mob (1 x penicillin, In the vat: 2 x lames and 28 x HSCC cows) All but 4 in vat cows 6
Culls / deaths cows 0
Current Stocking Rate (platform; not counting R1’s) cows/ha 1.7
Production (to the factory) (28/02/18)
Total Milksolids (YTD) kgMS 259,213
Total Milksolids (MTD) kgMS 10,170
Total Milksolids (last 7 days) kgMS
Average per cow daily production (last 7 days) kgMS/cow/day 1.00
Per ha production (last 7 days) kgMS/ha
Other (to the factory)
Protein:Fat Ratio (7-day avg.) % 0.80
Milk Urea (7-day avg.) mg/dl 29.1
SCC (7-day avg.) cells/ml 254,000
Fat Evaluation Index (FEI)
Fonterra 17/18 Forecast - as at 7th Dec 17 $/kgMS $6.75

Milking frequency

  • Cows are now on OAD producing 1kg MS/cow/day


  • 55 MT and cull cows still to go to the works, waiting on kill space (were booked to go before now but the M. Bovis culling has created space issues as with other properties)
  • After the herd is dried off, any cull cows remaining will be used to manipulate the pasture cover on some FEI paddocks and then transitioned onto beet until there is works kill space available
  • As cows are dried off they are split into farmlet herds (beet or kale wintering)
  • Beet cows post dry off move directly onto fodder beet paddocks with baleage. Over time they complete their transition process slowly reducing the baleage allowance until the ratio is 70% crop and 30% baleage
  • Kale cows post dry off move directly onto kale paddocks with baleage and PKE. Over time the baleage ration is reduced, the PKE is removed and the final ratio will be approximately 70% crop and 30% baleage

Feed Management

  • The four herds are to remain on their allocated farmlets at all times. The 2017/18 season aim is to feed all cows in a similar manner all season. Any differences to be recorded. 
  • Decision rules for Cows of BCS 4 or less are that they can be fed extra supplement in the shed as required by the farm team and be milked OAD but will remain in their allocated herds for research purposes.
  • The concentrate in the shed is a 50:50 mix of PKE and barley.

Table 3: Feed Offered

Standard Kale Low Env. Impact Kale Standard Fodder beet Low Env. Impact Fodder beet
Milkers – Pasture Kg DM /cow/day 16 16 11 11
Milkers – Fodder beet kg DM/cow/day 3.0 3.0
Milkers – Baleage kgDM/cow/day 1.6 1.6
Milkers – Concentrates kgDM/cow/day
Milkers below BCS target - Concentrates kgDM/cow/day
TOTAL DM OFFERED 16 16 15.6 15.6
Dry Cows – Pasture kgDM /cow/day
Dry Cows – Crop kgDM/cow/day 3.73 7.35
Dry Cows – Silage/baleage kgDM/cow/day 2.53 4.29
Dry Cows – PKE kgDM/cow/day 9
TOTAL DM OFFERED 15.26 11.64
R1's - Crop kgDM/day Currently on pasture 2.8
R1's – Baleage kgDM/day 3.3
R2's – Crop kgDM/cow/day Currently on pasture 6.22 approx.
R2's – Baleage kgDM/day 4.65 approx.

Fodder beet cows and kale cows dried off now are running together currently and will be split later next week.

The R2 Kale heifers are still on pasture and will start transition next week

The R1 Kale heifers are also still on pasture, start transition next week

Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Management

  • Total area is 327ha(eff), 32.5ha(eff) young stock block and 294ha(eff) platform. Winter crop is grown on both blocks for all stock.
  • Crop rotation is two years in crop then re-grass. PGG Wrightson grass cultivars used are Rely, Platform and Excess, all diploids.
  • Where target residuals are missed, topping after grazing is the tool the farm team use as needed.

Table 4: Land, Pasture, Crop & Silage Metrics

Pre - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 2700
Post - Graze cover target kgDM/ha 1500
Average Pasture Cover (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha 2145
Growth Rate (avg. over 4 farmlets) kgDM/ha/day 21
Rotation Length (avg. over 4 farmlets) days 42
Area Available for grazing (milkers) ha 213
Regrassing Area (out of rotation) ha 0
Baleage/Silage Area (out of rotation) ha 0
Crop Area (out of rotation) ha 49.6
Aeration Area ha 0.0
Young Stock (not included in rotation) ha 29.0

Crop management

Hub kale crops are averaging 12 T DM/ha (Yield range 9.5 to 13.7 T DM/ha; DM % range 8.8 to 12.4%) measured 16/5/18), compared to our budgeted yield of 14t/ha. 

To reduce pressure on our winter kale feed budget, we are reducing the kale allocation and substituting it with PKE for 2 weeks to put cow body condition on quickly before phasing out the PKE and increasing the kale allocation.

Fodder beet crops averaged 24 T DM/ha on 10th May. Paddock ranges were 19 to 27 T DM/ha. Bulb DM% ranged from 14.9 to 16.9% and leaf DM% from 8.4 to 10.1%

Any excess fodder beet will be pushed forward into the spring where it will either be grazed in situ by the Standard impact FB (Std FB) and Low Impact FB (Low FB) milkers or lifted and fed as a supplement or lifted and stored.

Catch fences are used on each herd.

Table 5: Nitrogen use on Farm

Nitrogen (Urea only)(last 7 days) Unit
Area (Winter crop) ha
Rate kg/N/ha
Fertiliser (last 7 days) Unit
Area ha 0
Rate kg/ha 0
Climate conditions
Rainfall (total last 7 days) mm 32
Soil Temp (7-day average) @10am °C 5.7

Table 6: Reproduction Metrics

Planned start of Mating (PSM) Target Actual Unit
Mixed Aged Cows 29-Oct-17 Date
2016 Born Heifers 21-Oct-17 Date
Calving spread
3 weeks 64 %
6 weeks 83 %
9 weeks 97 %
3 week Submission Rate 90 91 %
6 week in-calf rate 78 79 %
Empty Rate 10 7-11 %
  • The herd had an empty rate of 7 – 11%. This is either 7% of cows scanned or 11% of cows mated. The 11% is from start of mating inclusive of cows culled due to Staph outbreak and the dry period.

Research Update (fortnightly)

No update this week

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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link:


People Management

  • We farewell our current farm manager Jason at the end of May as he returns to the Waikato. Jason has done a great job in a very challenging set-up season on this first-year conversion. He has led from the front of our farm team whilst working through all the problems any first-year conversion has plus has helped us get set-up for the next phase of research moving into 4 farmlet systems next season. Plus, he has had to deal with all the other problems farming throws out including mid-July calving cows, 80% new grass in spring and very wet conditions followed by a drought! We thank him for all his effort and wish him all the best for his next project.