2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 25th January 2021

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 25/2/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 25th Feb 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 195 160 191 158 704
Milking TAD into vat 132 95 123 112 462
Milking OAD into vat 63 65 53 38 219
Sick/penos 5 5 3 3 16

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 25/2/2021

Soil temp (C) 16.8
Rainfall (mm) 11.8
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 15 kg DM pasture
2 kg DM/cow/d inshed feeding
14 kg DM pasture
3 kg DM/cow/d
Baleage as required
14 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE for light cows = 0.7 kg/cow equiv.
3kg DM/cow/d baleage
14 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE light cows = 0.6 kg/cow equiv.
2.5 kg DM/cow/d baleage

Key Decisions: this week

  • Conditions on farm were starting to dry out before the rain this week and we have noticed the feed wedges tightening up. Pre-graze covers are only allowing 14-15 kg DM pasture/cow/day allocation so all farmlets will be requiring supplements this week.
  • The Std. Kale will be offered 15kg DM/cow/day pasture and 1.5kg DM/cow/day inshed feeding. The other farmlets have dropped to 14kg DM/cow/day pasture offered: the LI Kale will increase to 3kg DM/cow/day inshed feeding with baleage top up as required
  • Std FB cows will be offered 3kg DM/cow/day baleage and LI FB 2.5 kg DM/cow/day. Light BCS in these herds will continue with PKE at 4kg DM/cow/day
  • The 2 remaining Std pdks that have not received their current round of N fertiliser will now receive it as 30 kg N/ha as ammo31 as we start the final applications for the year.
  • Next week we will start the final round of N for the LI farmlets. They will receive 15kg N/ha as ammo31 to the bottom half of the wedge.
  • Currently the Std FB have the least baleage available for their autumn feed budget therefore we are considering supplementary feeding options to the end of the season as pasture growth drops off. An initial crop yield will be done at the end of March from which we can determine whether we start supplementing with lifted FB from mid-April. To maximise the yield potential mid-April was agreed during the trial setup as the earliest we would start feeding beet in autumn.
  • This week we had a farmer reference group meeting. Two topics of discussion were methods for drying off our cows and the appearance and performance of the strip tillage FB.
    • a load of straw has been purchased to help reduce energy and protein intake for 4-5 days immediately following dry off and minimise the amount of autumn pasture in the diet. Last season we struggled to dry them down on the pasture and baleage diet that was offered.
    • The strip tillage FB will receive a N fertiliser application as it was deemed too late to respray for weeds now that there is significant bulb development in the beet; we concluded that the weeds present were starving the FB crop and limiting its growth making it more susceptible to pests and disease such as leaf miner and yellow virus. A small strip will be left without an additional N as a test to see what response is achieved.

  Figure 1: Yellowing of leaves and abundance of weeds & grass

Figure 2: Impact of leaf miner reducing the amount of chlorophyll available for photosynthesis


  • Below is an image illustrating the current development of FB in the demonstration plots comparing direct drill, strip till and conventional FB establishment methods. There is a noticeable difference in bulb and leaf size, along with root shape and size.

Figure 3: Direct drill (left), strip tillage (middle) and conventional (right) FB comparison


  • With the tightening of pasture availability and our final scan scheduled for 1st March we are pulling together our list of cull cows. This week 4 cull cows left and we intend to send our first group of x40 around the 2nd March. Not only do we cull empty cows, production and health we also ask the staff to give us a list of cows they recommend should be culled based on udder confirmation, attitude etc.

General Notes:

  • This week you can see our growth rates have dropped down from 50-60kg DM/day to around 30kg DM/day which is below cow demand for a diet of of 17kg DM/cow as pasture only. We will be filling the gap with inshed feeding to the kale farmlets and baleage to the FB farmlets to achieve a balance between feed demand and supply as current pre-graze mass will only achieve 15kg DM/cow for the Std. Kale and 14kg DM/cow for the other farmlets.

Figure 4: Farmlet monthly growth rates cross the season


  • Last week we discussed the bare patches in our summer direct drilled new grass pdks. After inspection from the agronomist there was still seed in the bare patches, however we have just determined that it is Argentine Stem Weevil that has resulted in the uneven germination in these paddocks so the bare areas are being resown today.

Figure 5: Direct drilled grass to grass pdk


  • We completed our baleage inventory and now have all the required baleage for the rest of the season and winter. With baleage being purchase from a number of sources we are organising to get bale weights and quality determination to calculate the kg DM/bale. The quality will enable us to target the different batches to the most appropriate part of the season.
  • N fertiliser went onto crops yesterday at rates of 46kg N/ha or 69kg N/ha depending on whether they were first or second year crops. Interestingly it is the first year crops that were deemed to have a higher N requirement so got the higher rate. Generally first year paddocks contain significant amounts of mineralised N from the cultivation of the pasture so in theory should require less synthetic N. This was evident from soil samples collected from paddocks a couple of years ago (Table 3).

Table 3: Soil mineral N concentration from first and second year crop paddocks

Pdk No Pdk history Previous crop Comments Mineral N
52 ex pasture 159
48 ex pasture 124
50 ex pasture 157
6 ex crop fodder beet grazed by R1's 80
22 ex crop fodder beet grazed by cows 90
98 ex crop kale 3rd year crop 49
35 ex crop fodder beet most of crop lifted 45
47 ex pasture 156
57 ex pasture 149
65 ex pasture 180
103 ex pasture 97
9 ex crop fodder beet most of crop lifted 37
8 ex crop fodder beet most of crop lifted 36
7 ex crop fodder beet grazed by cows 79
5 ex crop fodder beet grazed by cows 84
  • As mentioned last week we are at that time of year where next season is our priority. To protect dropping BCS and ensure we dry off at the correct BCS targets we have a few tools in our toolbox. Now that scanning results are in, we have booked some cull dates: x40 will go early March and then another x40 late March which will free up feed for other cows. If milk production continues to drop we can begin to transition herds to OAD and continue with priority inshed feeding. The autumn feed budget has developed and will be updated weekly from now till drying off with actually APC, growth rates and cow numbers..
  • Pregnancy rechecks will occur next Monday and we look forward to the results and what our final empty rate comes out at.
  • Our milk graphs reflect the tightening of feed this week especially. Although volume has dropped, fat and protein concentration has increased resulting in production sitting around 1.6kg MS/cow/day on average.

Figure 6: Weekly average kg MS/cow season to date

Figure 7: Milk production (kg MS/cow/day) comparison for each farmlet

Animal Health

  • This week x4 culls left the farm (x3 LI FB and x1 LI kale) and one Std FB cow was dried off.
  • We have one bad case of mastitis that is being treated.

People Management and Visitors

  • Vinny has been at first aid training this week
  • Our SDH field day has been booked in for the 10th March so don’t forget to book it into your calendar!
  • We had a farmer reference group meeting this week, as mentioned further up in the notes we discussed methods for shutting down and drying cows off to minimise mastitis, and also looked at our struggling strip tillage FB crop and what solutions we could take to improve it.

Figure 8: Group looking at the strip tillage FB

Research on-farm

  • Results from pasture samples collected from SDH and the participatory research farms are summarised in the table below. The LI FB paddocks sampled were significantly lower in crude protein and potassium than the other farmlets at SDH. The irrigated pastures of northern Southland were lower in DM than the other participatory research farms.


Table 4: February pasture quality from SDH and the participatory research farms

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: