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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 23rd January 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 17.8
Rainfall (mm) 1
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 17 17
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Number milkers in Penos 1 3 7 4
% TAD Milkers 85% 85% 73% 82%
% OAD milkers 15% 15% 27% 18%

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week the Std. FB continues to sit in a tight feed position as a hole develops in their feed wedge. Last week the decision was to increase the Std. farmlet round lengths out to ~30 days. We hoped a bump of growth would lift covers up in front of us, but it wasn’t quite enough and so we used 2kg of inshed feeding to hold out the Std. Kale round length on the 33 days (3 feeds/paddock) that we had jumped them to.
    Our hope had been the same for a bump of growth and we intended to use extra grazings in paddocks and sending cows back to clean up residuals to help push out the Std. FB, however this was not possible and the Std. FB remained on a faster round. This can now be seen visually as the Std. Kale sits in a better position on the feed wedge compared with the Std. FB. This week the Std. FB will be offered up to 6 kg baleage to push the round length to 30 days and number of grazings to 3 feeds per paddock.
  • Due to the Std. Kale also being tight at 3 feeds per paddock on a 30 day round the cows will stay receiving 2 kg DM/cow/day of inshed feed until we have sufficient grass in front.
  • The LI FB cows have enough pasture but continue to have issues with quality and hitting target residual. At this stage we are unsure if this is a reflection of the FVI paddocks or cows which are causing these issues. We will manage quality by topping paddocks if necessary.
  • The decision was made to graze the higher cover LI Kale paddocks, of which one is >4000 kg DM/ha high quality new grass paddock. With the higher covers we have removed the inshed feeding and will reassess when we need to bring it back in again.
  • All cows will continue to be allocated 17 kg total DM/cow/day
  • The key focus this week remains around feed demand till the end of the season and ensuring BCS is a key focus from now through autumn into winter. What tools can we utilize in our toolbox to help us be proactive and minimize further BCS loss? We will continue to discuss and make decisions around these tools such as milking frequency, supplement type fed, scanning information, feed budgeting etc.

General Notes:

  • The warm weather continues this week and we hope to see this reflect in our growth rates and feed wedges.
  • The last paddock of new grass went in at the support block. The new grass on the milking platform is performing well and the cows have milked well off their first grazings of it.
  • The last of the capital and maintenance fertilizer has been applied. Every paddock has now received P and K applications. Next week N-Protect will be applied to crop paddocks via helicopter as we begin to reach canopy closure. The FB crops will receive 120 kg/ha of N-Protect and the kale will receive 150 kg/ha of N-Protect this application.
  • We are noticing more white clover quantity in the paddocks. Later next month we will commence botanical samples which will confirm % of clover present.
  • The cows are averaging 1.6 kg MS/cow/day for FB and 1.7 kg MS/day for Kale. On the graph you can see where the Std. Kale (pinks) were too tight in one of their paddocks on 3 feeds before inshed feeding started and also where the Std. FB (green) have started to drop away.

Figure 1: kg MS/cow/day farmlet comparison

Figure 2: kg MS/ha/day farmlet comparison


  • This week we received results from the first round of scanning which showed an average of 69.4% 6-week incalf rate.
    The LI kale (blue) had the lowest at 64.4%, followed by Std. FB (green) at 68.9%. The LI FB and Std. Kale achieved 71% and 72.8%.
    With a large amount of data available to us such as BCS, calving date, age etc. we hope to analyze the information and see if there is any correlation.

Figure 3: Farmlet 6-week incalf comparison


  • This week our newDe Laval BCS camera was installed and we look forward to seeing how its data compares with our very skilled tech team. From the tech’s BCS results this week it showed that the Std. FB are the lowest at 4.1, followed by LI FB and Std. Kale at 4.2 and then the LI Kale at 4.3.

We have entered the stage of the season where OAD for the lighter FB cows doesn’t seem to be enough to prevent further BCS loss as both FB farmlets have the most cows below BCS 4 (Std FB: 22% LI FB: 17%). The kale farmlets have less below BCS 4 as the lighter cows have also been receiving inshed feeding (Std. Kale 9% and LI Kale 10%).
By using scanning data and BCS tools we are planning to identify which FB cows can receive PKE to ensure we make gains over autumn in preparation for winter. Other options that could be considered include altering milking frequency of the farmlets from TAD.

Figure 4: BCS farmlet comparison

Animal Health

  • The calves will be weighed on Friday and changed from 3 mobs to 2. One of the mobs will still be on meal, PKE, baleage and pasture, and the other on PKE, baleage and pasture.
  • The vet will take a sample of bloods from the cows this week to identify any deficiencies.

People Management and Visitors

  • We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the DairyNZ Farmers Forum on the 3rd of March. The day is about:
    • Understanding what is driving change in the dairy sector and how to respond
    • Get updated on regional and national policy development and how to have an influence
    • Hear about the latest science happening in your region and what solutions you can use on your farm
    • Get an overview on how DairyNZ is prioritizing its efforts to best protect your future and of course hear about what has been happening at the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • With guest speakers such as Cameron Bagrle (Economist), Nadia Lim (MasterChef winner) and Tim Mackle (DairyNZ CEO) plus more. You can register here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/event-activity/farmers-forum/
  • Charlie and Louise conducted staff performance reviews this week. There are super important to ensure employers and employees are on the same page. It was a great opportunity to discuss future training and areas of development and also to discuss procedures and ensure uniformity with how they are implemented. You can read more about conducting one-on-one performance reviews here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/people/employer/staff-management/managing-performance/
  • We have been trying to get staff more upskilled in a range of tasks at SDH to make them great all-rounders. This week we have been undergoing hoof and tractor training. The staff are now becoming more confident mowing and feeding out baleage.
  • We continue to interview for the herd manager role. When interviewing staff it is important to go through the interview process correctly and contact all listed referees. You can read more about how to successfully attract and employ staff here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/people/employer/starting-employment/
  • The SDH Research Advisory Committee are looking for a Southland farmer to join our group. You will be working alongside some very talented people from DairyNZ, AgResearch, Fonterra and another farmer rep.
    • The RAC is responsible for reviewing all research applications for SDH and making recommendations to the SDRF board on which proposals fit with the goals and vision for the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • The RAC will also make recommendations on the strategic direction of research on the site. If you have an interest in research and would like to contribute to developing solutions for southern dairy farmers and can commit to up to four 2-3 hour (skype and face to face) meetings per annum we would love to hear from you.
    • In the first instance email SDDT Chair Tim Driscoll with your expression of interest and a short CV: driscolldairy@gmail.com

Research on-farm

  • In early March we will start our annual assessment of the clover content of every paddock on the farm. This will involve taking a pasture sample prior to grazing and separating it into clover, ryegrass, other grasses, weed and dead material.

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: