2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 23rd April 2020

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

NOTE: The Spr on the feed wedges identifies our springer paddocks for next season. These paddocks will not be grazed again this season so by identifying them on the wedge we wont accidentally include them in our grazing plan each week.

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 23rd April 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 9.4
Rainfall (mm) 17
Milker Total Dry Matter Allocation 16 16 (Std) and 15.5 (LI)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Number milkers out of farmlet herd 1 2 2 1
Number OAD milkers 172 139 181 130
Dried off keepers 14 13 0 1
Dried off culls 1 4 6 12

Key Decisions: this week

  • The soil temperature continues to drop as we move to the second half of April (10.1 down to 9.4oC) and pasture growth rates are sitting between 25 to 37kg DM/ha/day. You can see the trend of pasture growth season to date and also how the farmlets compare against each other in the graph below. Unsurprisingly the Std. farmlets have tracked higher which is likely due to their extra N use.

Figure 1: Pasture growth rate farmlet comparison season to date


  • The Std kale farmlet has reached a hump in it’s wedge this week. With many paddocks receiving their last grazing prior to winter it is important that they are grazed well and hit residuals to ensure quality regrowth for next season.
  • To ensure residuals are met will continue to offer the kale dry keepers 10% of the paddock area of the Kale milkers, and both the Std. and LI Kale farmlets will offer less in-shed supplements over the next 7-10 days to animals that are not ‘at risk’ and fatter culls still being milked. This will increase grazing pressure in the paddock and ensure better utilization of the higher cover paddocks. NOTE: For every 1 kg DM supplement consumed in the dairy cows will decrease their grazing time by 20 minutes.
  • Supps fed last week included: Std. Kale (2.7kg DM/cow/day inshed), LI Kale (3.1kg DM/cow/day which included x2 bales fed), Std. FB (2.3kg DM/cow/day which included x7 bales fed) and LI FB (1.9kg DM/cow/day which included x3 bales fed). This week we will have the addition of FB as a supplement for the FB farmlets but will still continue to feed baleage where required.
  • The most important driver behind our decisions on farm now is next season. This is through achieving improved cow condition before winter and achieving average pasture cover targets at 31st May and pre-calving. Remember there are still levers you can also pull on your farm to ensure you are on track (see key messages next). Below lists what we have been implementing so far (as listed in last week’s notes):
    • Changed our milking frequency to once a day
    • Dried off lighter early calving cows
    • Dried off Johnes culls and low producing empties
    • Using dry culls for clean up around the farm and grazing the long acre with baleage and hay in a holding area so that demand on the milking platform is reduced.
    • Constant revision of our feed budgets and comparing our APC actual vs. predicted.
    • Completed our N fertilizer applications within the farmlet rules. Time is running out for N use based on likely response rates and when the N boosted feed will be available. One option could be to consider lower N applications plus ProGibb to the bottom half of the wedge.
    • Have our stock agent on speed dial for regular updates
    • Extended the rotation length to 40-44 day

General Notes:

  • Feeding of FB will commence tomorrow to the Std and LI FB farmlets. It was decided to feed earlier to get routines established before the wetter weather forecast for next week arrives. We will start the cows on 1kg DM FB/cow/day and will use timed grazing lengths as they would otherwise be too tight in the break. Rule of thumb we are using is 20mins per 1 kg DM intake and we will graze at this level for 3 days before extending it to 30mins at an intake of 1.5kg DM/cow/day. Due to the importance of transitioning onto FB correctly we have also given the staff the following guidelines. You can also read more about FB transitioning here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/crops/fodder-beet/fodder-beet-transitioning/
  1. Need to make sure there is 4-5m per cow
  2. All cows need to enter onto the crop at the same time; FB grazing will occur in the morning after milking.
  3. Grazings need to be accurately timed and someone must be with the cows for the entire 20min grazing period.
  4. Next week we will start dusting the FB farmlet pdks with DCP to top up P reserves

Figure 2: Fodder beet crop ready for grazing


  • We are happy with how our BCS continues to increase each week and this can be seen in the graph below. Gaining BCS is a slow process and implementation to increase it needs to start early. In the graph you can see that our BCS has slowly been tracking up since mid-December. With BCS it is important to not focus just on what your herd’s average is but, more importantly, the lighter animals that are bringing your average down. Don’t forget you can use the DairyNZ BCS calculator to help decided when to dry your lighter animals off to reach BCS target at calving: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/body-condition-scoring/bcs-strategies/

Figure 3: Seasonal herd average BCS farmlet comparison


  • Milk production has slowly been tracking down with a few ups and downs along the way. The Std. FB took a drop this week compared to the other farmlets when they grazed a paddock on the flats which they don’t seem to like.  We offered 1.7 kg DM/cow on top of their pasture but we still couldn’t hold production.

Figure 4: Farmlet milk production comparison


  • The R1s are looking good over at the support block. A bit of pasture has built up in front of them and they continue to receive baleage. Early May they will undergo weights, stature measurements and bloods.

Figure 5: Young stock at the support block


  • The farm team continue to keep on top of day to day tasks. This week they pulled bolters from the FB crops, grubbed thistles, sprayed tracks and have started thinking about calf shed preparation.

Animal Health

  • The farm team continue to strip and treat mastitis cows as they occur with x3 new cases this week. The farm team are also taking turns to walk amongst the dry cows and check no mastitis has occurred since dry off.
  • There have been no lame cows this week. Staff member Andrea will complete a visual locomotion test on the cows next week to identify any starting to show signs of sore footedness. You can learn how to locomotion score here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/cow-health/lameness/lameness-scoring/

People Management and Visitors

  • All group visits to the farm have been cancelled and we are utilising skype for our weekly meetings.

Research on-farm

  • In line with Covid-19 requirements the research measurements on site have been reduced to only those essential for the management of the animals. We are in the fortunate position that we have a number of automated measurements that will help plug the gaps until we can resume the previous sampling regime.
  • We are making alternative plans for some of the measurements that were scheduled in the last 2 months of lactation and determining what is essential for decision making vs nice to have for research.

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: