2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 24th October 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

NB: Second target line represents demand on a 100% pasture allocation (post balance date) on a 20-day rotation for Std herds and 25-day rotation for LI herds

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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 24th October 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 9.8
Rainfall (mm) 27.8
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 17kg DM pasture
Milk Allocation 19kg DM 19kg DM
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% Calved (total herd) 100% 100% 100% 100%
% milkers in Colostrums/Penos/OAD 9% 4% 3% 4%
% TAD Milkers (total) 91% 96% 97% 96%

Key Decisions: this week

  • Hold the rotation at 30-32 days until we are confident in consistent growth rates. Dismal weather on farm this week prompted us to reassess the decision to start speeding up in the Std Kale herd last week.
  • Increase supplementation due to the wet and cold conditions increasing cow demand and decreasing pasture utilisation. The LI FB ate more into their residuals than desired on some days.
  • For the next week we will hold or increase supplements (as seen in table 3) and bring baleage back into the FB farmlets. With only about 1 week of lifted FB left to feed we will feed a higher proportion of baleage to stretch the FB out further.

Table 3: Supplements to be offered to farmlets this week (kg DM/cow/day)

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
(kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow)
Pasture available
(kg DM/cow/day)
16.5 16 14.5 14
30% Barley/PKE blend inshed
(kg DM/cow/day @ 88%DM)
2.5 3
Baleage 3 2.8
Fodder beet
(kg DM/cow/day @ 17% DM)
1.5 2.2
  • Tomorrow urea will be applied to the remaining Std. Impact farmlet paddocks for the second round applications and then we will start the 3rd round at a rate of 25kg N/ha. From the wedges it is identified that the LI farmlets could also do with a N fertiliser application to boost growth and prevent a hole developing in their wedges, especially the LI FB farmlet. The decision over the next week will be whether we utilise some of the N fertiliser application scheduled for the LI farmlets post heading in December or wait for the spring growth to kick in. With only 50 kg N/ha available for these farmlets we have to be strategic in when it is used. 
  • Due to a number of staff with different levels of experience detecting heats, x2 forms of heat detection will be used: both pressure (tail paint) and visual (heat patch). The bull will go out with the R2s on the 26th Oct.

General Notes:

  • It was a celebration this week as the last cow calved on farm. A warm celebratory lunch was enjoyed by the farm team.

Figure 1: Last calf born for the season


  • On paper it appears we have had good growth this week, however we are noticing stem elongation in many paddocks which is overestimating pasture mass relative to our visual observations and what the cows are telling us based on residuals.
  • The average soil temp has dropped from 10.5 ˚C to 9.8 ˚C
  • The LI farmlets are tracking with the lowest APC of 2297kg DM/ha compared with the range of 2321 to 2495kg DM/ha for the other farmlets. The reasoning for this may be attributed to harder grazings from the previous round resulting in lower residuals and impacting on regrowth potential.
  • We have observed considerable variation in pasture crude protein content over the last 2 months which is likely to be a driver for differences in milk urea readings from the vats (Figure 2). The low N fodder beet bulb being feed to the FB herds is a likely contributor to the low MUN observed in this vat.
  • We had an unfortunate mix-up with 2 of the herds this week with a kale herd being put into a fodder beet paddock that beet had already been fed out in. Before they mix up was discovered the cows had consumed the 3 kg DM FB in the paddock. Farm staff monitored the herd on an hourly basis and extra MgO was dusted onto their next pasture breaks. No animal health issues were observed. 

Figure 2: Milk Urea for FB and Kale farmlets


  • We continue to observe variation in milk yield from day to day within herds and also between herds (Figure 3). The tighter feed situation in the LI FB herd is impacting on their milk production

Figure 3: kg MS/cow/day comparison for farmlets


  • The average BCS of the farmlets has remained the same as the scores a fortnight ago, ranging from 4.7 for the LI FB to 4.5 for the Std. Kale. However, the % of cows <BCS 4.0 has increased this week compared to BCS on the 10th Oct and this can be seen in the graph below. Lighter cows in the Std & LI Kale farmlets will still receive 4kg DM/cow/day inshed feeding and any cows below BCS 4.0 will continue to be managed in the OAD colostrum mob. All cows have a BCS assessment every 14 days and it is from this information that decisions on who goes into the OAD mob or returns to the main farmlet herd are made.

Figure 4: % less than BCS 4.0


  • The solids from the weeping wall were spread out onto the crop to grass paddocks. Last year we found negative results from applying the solids out on to the pasture. Due to its thick consistency it semi smothered the pasture and took a while to degrade and disappear.
  • This week the late calvers were metri-checked with x6 metri-cured (total of x45 metri-cured this season). We also touched up tail paint and will do a full assessment before determining CIDR use next week.
  • The calves are gaining weight at 0.4 kg/calf/day. We now have x147 calves at the support block with a 3rd to be weaned this week (weather depending). The calves are now on milk powder and fed ad lib meal and pasture. Mobs are offered varying milk quantities of 2, 3 or 4 litres based off to age and size.

Animal Health

  • We continue to identify lame cows and are looking into what the main causes of this could be. We are seeing quite a lot of lameness in front feet, especially in the kale herds and are wondering if this could be from the cows pushing to get onto the platform to receive their in-shed feeding.
  • We had a few challenges with calving this year with 7% of the herd having calving difficulties. This has contributed to our mating decision going forward and considering the type of bull we use and how it will impact calving ease.
  • X2 culls were sent away – x1 with attitude issues and x1 with ill thrift with no confirmed illness
  • One death this week due to milk fever.

People Management and Visitors

  • This week our new relief milker Jess started. She will milk Thursdays and Fridays to free up time for the team to do other farm tasks.

Research on-farm

  • The final sampling for the AgR detailed milk composition project occurred at the beginning of the week. With sampling complete they will now commence the analysis of the samples
  • Next week we have our first team meeting for the SFF Participatory Research project aligned with SDH.
    • The objective of the project is to increase adoption of leading-edge farm systems, delivering a lower environmental footprint and stronger rural communities for Southland and Otago, using a co-innovation and participatory research approach.
    • We plan to create a network of farms and communities delivering knowledge, data and on-farm experiences that demonstrate the relevance and adoptability of regional and national research for dairy farmers in Southland and Otago and for their support business.
    • The project will take an integrated environmental approach focusing on water quality outcomes while advancing farmer understanding of the impact of farm systems and mitigation options on greenhouse gas emissions.
    • One of the first activities for the project will be to identify farmers interesting in being considered as one of the monitor farms for the project and commencing the data collection and scenario modelling. If you are interested in understanding the environmental footprint of your farm and have some nutrient reduction mitigations you have implemented or are planning on implementing and are keen to be involved we would love to hear from you (dawn.dalley@dairynz.co.nz or 0274952239)

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: