2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 25th July 2019

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 25th July 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 6.7
Rainfall (mm) 4.2
Dry Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 12kg DM crop + 3-3.5kg DM baleage 11.6kg DM crop + 3-3.5kg DM baleage
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 159 134 159 131
R2’s 43 36 43 37

Key Decisions: this week

  • It will be all go at the Southern Dairy Hub as we announce the arrival of our first heifer calf last Friday morning!
  • Feed budgets for each farmlet are being continuously monitored and Spring Rotation Planners are ready to be implemented at the start of calving. We have reached our required target APC for the start of calving for all farmlets and the feed budget for the LI farmlets are sitting extremely comfortable, with supplement available to be feed to milkers if required.
  • At this stage based off APC, pasture growth rates, and allowing for some periods of poor utilisation, we have budgeted from calving to October (balance date) for:
    • 165kg DM/cow concentrate (PKE mix) for the Std impact kale herd
    • 120kg DM/cow lifted FB for Std FB herd
    • 60 kg DM/cow pasture silage for all herds
    • Supplement will be fed as required to the LI farmlets
  • On the 15th July we estimated to have 25 days of kale remaining at the increased 1kg DM allocation, 32 days FB for Std. farmlet and 55 days for LI FB (some of which is earmarked for lifting). Kale yields last week created great challenges – very lodged so difficult to determine what should go in and what out of the quadrat.
    All the yields over-estimated relative to what the cows were telling us they were eating, so we have revised the break widths. The challenge going forward will be possibly running short of kale and needing to therefore supplement with more baleage to extend the kale grazing window.

Figure 1: Cows making their way through the crop paddocks

  • The kale R1s have 17 days of crop remaining. There is still not a large amount of pasture available at the support block so the decision will look to augment crop with 1kg PKE after their blood samples have been taken next week. Once the kale crop runs out they will be offered a diet of grass, PKE and baleage. The reasoning behind this is because we do not have enough baleage and have PKE sitting available in the silo.
  • This week we drafted the first springers from all herds. They will be grazed in a FB and Kale farmlet paddock in close proximity to the cowshed. We also selected the paddock locations so that there is no possibility of calves being mixed between mobs. Breaks will be set up 4 days in advance, and the cows will receive 50gm/cow/day MgOxide dusted and 70gm/cow/day Mg Chloride in the water.

From the table below you can see how the mobs will be run as a milking mob is formed. The cows will be run as one mob until the first x100 cows have calved, then they will be split into FB and kale mobs. When x100 kale and FB cows have calved, the mobs will then be split again into their Std. and LI farmlets:

Figure 2: Calving mob split over start of calving

General Notes:

  • In the farm notes two weeks ago the plate meter and visual estimates on the LI FB and Kale farmlets suggested APC had declined over the previous 2 weeks. We felt this reading was not correct due to the conditions during plating, such as: very wet and windy overnight, squally showers occurring during plating, and clumps in the paddock. As predicted, the readings this week have improved, and our visuals and plate readings are more aligned
  • From the table below, growth rates (GR) are now sitting between 6-11kg DM/ha/day. The visual GR is the average over 28 days and the plate is average for 16 days. Average Plate GR calculated from APC on 26th Jun and 24th July was 7-8 kg DM/day:

Table 3: Plate and visual APC and growth rate for the last fortnight

APC Plate APC visual GR Plate GR Visual
Pink 2516 2454 11 6
Blue 2539 2533 17 9
Green 2501 2506 12 11
Yellow 2545 2558 18 11
  • From the BCS results two weeks ago the decision was made to increase crop allocation by 1kg/cow/day. This week the BCS results are closer to targets of 5.0 for MA cows and 5.5 for R2s. This is not because they have gained a whole 0.5 BCS in 2 weeks but more because a lot of the cows BCS 2 weeks ago were scored at 4.5 but were actually close to a BCS 5, however as we score in 0.5 BCS units it has been our policy to round scores down rather than up.
  • The Std Kale farmlets appear to be lagging with BCS average sitting at 4.8. This may be due to the challenges mentioned earlier regarding yield estimates and also the range in quality baleage being fed.

The lighter mobs appear to have higher BCS, but this is because of the mixture between well-conditioned R2 heifers with lighter MA cows.   

Figure 3: Average BCS for each mob

  • Baleage was tested and came back with a range in quality. We did not realise the impact varying quality baleage would have on the crop residual left. We are revising our pasture and crop feed budget on a weekly basis. Below is results from the baleage tests taken from bales being offered in June and July:

ME – 8.4-11.4 

N – 1.4-3.1% 

P – 0.2-0.4% 

Ca – 0.57-1.48% (this may be an outlier) 

Mg – 0.19-0.27%

  • During BCS this week it was a great opportunity to train the heifers and get them used to the cowshed. It all went very smoothly and will save a lot of time and stress over calving.

Figure 4: Training heifers through the shed

  • R1s were weighed two weeks ago. On average the R1 FB calves were at a daily gain average of 0.4kg/day and the R1 kale calves at 0.2kg/day. Condition-wise the calves are looking good with the FB calves being overall in better condition.

Animal Health

  • There was one death in the LI FB farmlet. Autopsy results were inconclusive.
  • Bloods were done this week on farmlet groups and extra bloods for Mg and Se. P will be used along with the winter diets to fine tune the springer and colostrum management. 


People Management and Visitors

  • Andrea the new calf rearer was hired last week just in time for our first calf arriving!

Research on-farm

  • Blood, urine and faeces samples were collected on 25th July 
  • Blood and stature measurements are scheduled for Kale R1’s on Thursday 1st August 
  • There is currently x2 research proposals being considered by the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) 

Figure 5: Blood, urine and faeces samples being taken by the Sci-tech team

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: