2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 19th November

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 18/11/2021 – Number of cows in each mob

DATE: 18th Nov 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Cows on Farm 196 161 195 161 713
Milking TAD 162 138 161 145 606
Milking OAD 32 21 32 14 99
Sick 2 2 2 2 8
Slips/empty/deaths 5 5 14 5 29

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 18th November 2021

Soil temp (C) 17.0
Rainfall (mm) 43.2mm
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
1 kg inshed feed
18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
1 kg inshed feed
18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
1 kg fodder beet
18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
1 kg fodder beet

Key Decisions: this week

  • There were a few pasture allocation challenges on farm this week with growth exceeding demand. Mobs flicked between 3 and 4 feds per paddocks with many have to be returned to paddocks to clean up residuals. Some paddocks were also topped to remove stalky pasture in the base that the cows could not graze down into. 
  • The rotation length has been increased to 37 days to push pasture forward rather than conserving as baleage. With springer paddocks dropping out of rotation over the next couple of weeks and a likely growth rate check in the paddocks that have or will be aerated we are expecting pasture supply to tighten up so don’t want to put extra pressure on by conserving paddocks this late in the season. 
  • Inshed feeding will continue to priority cows plus 1 kg DM/cow/d to the main LI Kale cows. Baleage will only be required if pre-graze cover indicates insufficient pasture for the proposed number of grazings in each paddock.
  • Our challenge is to get into the new grass paddocks earlier in the rotation to ensure residuals are being achieved, reducing the requirement for topping.
  • We have identified our springer paddocks for next season. Grazing of these paddocks will be staggered over the next 3 weeks to prevent them all being at the same pre-graze mass at the start of spring and so they can build cover prior to winter. Decision criteria for springer paddocks include:
    • Farmlet requirement for crop
    • Location
    • Season to date and historical DM production
    • FVI cultivar
    • Flood risk 

Two paddocks are on the lower terrace but these are considered of the lowest risk for flooding from the Makarewa. 

  • N fertiliser will be applied to the last 5 paddocks for the season. As mentioned in previous weeks we are applying Ammo31.
  • The science team have been yielding crops this week. Once we get yield measurements we can predict growth going forward and the number and placement of baleage in paddocks, along with fine tuning our winter feed budget.
  • As mentioned in the notes last week to support some of the rationale behind our cull cow decision making: We were fortunate to be able to off load 60 cull cows last week. While slightly earlier than planned we were concerned that works space could be limited and therefore we wouldn’t get culls away to meet feed budget demands. We managed to find a buyer for 48 of them which left the farm in milk. If you are thinking about when to send your autumn culls away you can read more here Culling cows – DairyNZ or talk with your local DairyNZ Consulting Officer regarding decision making and trigger points.
  • Rationale for culling earlier rather than milking them longer at SDH included:
  • Our system type – being on the lower input end of system type culling is an important leaver in achieving the autumn feed budget and dry off targets.
  • Our FB herds have a finite about of supplementary feed available until the fodder beet is ready for grazing so milking culls longer could be detrimental to our keeper cows and next seasons performance if pasture growth drops below the autumn feed budget targets.
  • Space for culls is tight and we want to avoid being stuck with culls at the end of the season as we have limited ‘non trial’ area to run them on
  • Body condition score: while this is tracking the right direction we have a significant number of animals under priority management so we need to ensure they are well fed 
  • Protecting average pasture cover so that end of season targets are achieved

Essentially, we are now focusing on next season and ensuring our cows and pastures end the season on target so that they winter well and enter next season in the best position possible to get the season off to a strong start. 

General Notes:

  • Last week we had contractors out cutting supplement at the support block; we managed to make x77 bales. The graph below shows the number of bales made on the farmlets season to date and the number fed out. 

Figure 1: Number of bales made and fed on farm season to date (STD) for each farmlet


  • The farm team have done another round of pulling bolters in the FB crops. It is essential that all bolters are pulled, especially for paddocks that we plan to sow in fodder beet again the following year. A bolter will drop thousands of seeds making fodder beet cropping in subsequent years very difficult as germinating bolter seeds will compete with normal fodder beet and impact yield potential.

Figure 2: Vinny posing with a very large bolter pulled today


  • We managed to send away another x3 culls to Alliance this week.
  • Our milk production has dropped back this week which we attribute to the clean-up grazings that were required with growth exceeding demand and pre-grazing covers being higher than required for the rotation length we were on. We also reduced inshed feeding to the kale herds to increase pasture grazing pressure. The herds are currently averaging around 1.6kg MS/cow/day will less than 1.5 kg DM/cow/day of supplementary feed.

Figure 3: kgMS/cow/day from 26th Feb farmlet comparison

Figure 4: Average seasonal kg MS/ha/season to date farmlet comparison


  • Next week we will have our fortnightly herd test and BCS. This will give us the information to then make some informed decisions of which cows we will dry off to preserve their BCS for calving. 
  • We had Tim Campbell out to measure the effluent pond depth and make an easier system to gauge the level in the pond. We are currently sitting at 53% and continue to get it down as far as possible prior to winter while adhering to the required soil moisture triggers.

Animal Health

  • Conditions on farm are dryer and the bout of lameness we had from rain early last week has settled down. We seem to have a constant rotation of cows in our lame mob all the time which sits around 9 animals. 

People Management and Visitors

  • This week we had the DairyNZ board out to visit. We briefly shared some findings that were presented at the field day hosted this month and discussed strategic issues that SDRF, SDH and SDDT are grappling with. 

Figure 5: SDRF, SDH, SDDT and DairyNZ board meeting


  • SDH and the Participatory Research project joined with DairyNZ’s Step Change events this week. These events looked at steps to a future-fit farm system. There were some super interesting scenarios being modelled on x4 Southland & Otago farms. 
  • A policy and regulatory update was also provided covering freshwater and Greenhouse Gases. Below is a photo of the attendees at the Northern Southland event hosted at Rob 7 Rachel Dingle’s in Wendonside. Copies of the handouts from these events are available from the DairyNZ consulting officers.

Figure 6: Attendees at the Northern Southland Participatory research and DairyNZ Step Change event

Figure 7: Attendees the Tairei Participatory research and DairyNZ Step Change event checking out the plantain trial at AgResearch Invermay


  • Both Billy and Tash have their BCS training next week. 

SDH Research

  • Results from the recent pasture and supplement samples are back (table below) and it is encouraging to see how good the quality of the baleage that has been made of farm this year is. While high in DM it has good crude protein and energy. Quality across all the farmlets was pretty consistent this month. 

Table 3: Average pasture quality for each farmlet and baleage for all farmlets

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Baleage
Dry Matter (%) 15.1 16.5 16.4 17.5 45.0
Crude protein (%) 21.6 22.8 20.2 21.8 20.1
ME (MJ/kg DM) 10.8 11.0 11.2 10.7 11.5
Phosphorus (%) 0.39 0.43 0.42 0.39 0.40
Calcium (%) 0.78 0.81 0.73 0.68 0.72
Magnesium (%) 0.22 0.23 0.24 0.22 0.20

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: