2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 25th October 2018

Figure 1: The fodder beet to new grass paddock beginning to green up

General Farm Information

Table 1: Key Numbers 25th October

Milking Platform average
Soil temp (C) 12.9
Rainfall (mm) 12.4
Av. Pasture Cover (kg DM/ha) 2624
Pasture Growth rate (kg DM/ha/day) 95
No. of cows milking 713
No. cows milking into the vat 680
Av. Kg MS/cow/day (from vat) 1.85
Average milk fat (%) 4.81
Average milk prot (%) 3.81
Average SCC (cells/ml) 130,000
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 18.5 kg DM total

Table 2: Animal Summary by farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Units
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Animal Summary
Milkers – TAD 162 147 164 134 cows
Milkers – OAD 18 4 8 8
Penos - OAD 11 12 10 12 cows
Staph (TAD into vat) 4 12 8 8 cows

Table 3: Feed Summary by farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Units
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Pasture Summary
Average pasture cover# (C-Dax and excluding springer paddocks) 2695 2471 2636 2692 kg DM
Growth Rate (c-dax)# 119 102 115 90 kgDM/d
Rotation length last week 33 32 37 33 days
Target rotation length* (Excluding springer paddocks) 25 25 25 25 days
Target milker intake for this week 28th Sept - 5th Oct
Pasture 18.5 18.5 18.5 18.5 kg DM/cow
PKE:Barley Blend * * kg DM/cow
Fodder beet kg DM/cow
Baleage * * kg DM/cow
Total DMI 18.5 18.5 18.5 18.5 kg DM/cow

# Likely overestimate of APC and growth rate because mid grazing paddocks are estimated up to 600 kg DM above what we have visually assessed.

*If required, inshed feeding will be used to fill any deficit in the kale farmlets and baleage in the fodder beet farmlets

Key Decisions: this week

  • APC and growth rates are over-estimated this week due to ongoing issues with the conversion of height measurements to mass using the c-dax.
  • This week we implemented the new method of assessing pasture mass with the top 7 paddocks, as identified from the whole farm c-dax estimates, being plated and visually assessed as well. What this identified was that the mass in paddocks 12-18 days post grazing is being over-estimated by the c-dax and are therefore these paddocks are distorting the wedge and inflating the estimated growth rate. While the grass in these paddocks has height, there is no density or bulk to them and most are still at the 1.5 to 2 leaf stage and not ready to be grazed.
  • However, we have noted an increase in growth and as such we need to speed up the rotation length and reduce supplement feeding in order to hit target residuals. The rotation length will speed up from 30 days to 24-26 days.
    • A 30-day rotation equates to 1.5 days per paddock i.e. three grazings. If we moved to 1 day per paddock this would drop the rotation to 19-21 days depending on the number of paddocks per farmlet and this is too quick
    • Achieving a 24-26 day rotation will create some challenges as it will require some paddocks to be grazed over 1.5 days and others only 1 day.
    • The feed wedge, days since grazing, knowledge of individual paddocks and pre-graze covers will be used to determine which paddocks will provide 3 grazings and which ones do two.
    • A more conservative approach i.e. slightly longer rotation will be targeted with the LI farmlets as we are holding the next round of N until pre-Christmas to give the plants a boost post heading and going into summer. Nitrogen will continue to be used on the Std farms.
  • Fodder beet will be sown into the crop-crop paddocks this week. The paddocks have been power harrowed and had fertiliser applied. An assessment will be made on whether they require another surface work before they are planted. The grass to crop paddocks have been sprayed and have died off. They will be ploughed this week, rolled, levelled, power harrowed and receive fertiliser before being visually assessed and sown.
  • The grass to kale paddocks will be sprayed out in the next few weeks with a target sowing of mid-November.

General Notes:

  • The last cow calved this week marking the end of the 2018 calving season
  • The cows were BCS scored this week, of which both kale farmlets and the LI FB farmlet having 1% of cows at BCS<4; the std FB farmlet had 6% of the cows at BCS <4. Overall the average BCS was 4.5 and the split can be seen in the table below:

Table 4: BCS for each farmlet and % < BCS 4

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
BCS 4.5 4.5 4.4 4.6
% less than BCS 4 1% 1% 6% 1%
  • The science tech team went for their annual body condition score (BCS) calibration this week. DairyNZ offers a BCS assessor certification programme of which you can become certified to confidently BCS cows to the standard of the NZ BCS system. BCS is an important tool used for making key on farm decisions and it is strongly encouraged that your herd is being BCS at key times throughout the season.

You can find more information regarding certified BCS assessors in your area or for a local BCS assessment certification programme running near you at https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/body-condition-scoring/assessor-certification-programme/

  • Herd testing occurred this week which will allow identification of any new cows >200,000 SCC cows for bacto analysis. The samples are then sent to Hamilton so that we can further understand the extent of the Staph aureus issue in the herd.
  • Pre-mating heats of the milking herds were assessed Friday morning, with cows already showing good signs of activity.
  • The R2s received their first PG jab, with KMARs and their second jab scheduled for the 1st November. Following the second injection they will be AI mated for 5 days before being turned out with the bulls.
  • A second mob of calves will be weaned after weighing and measuring this week.  We are expecting approximately x40 calves to be weaned and sent to the support block. This new group of weaned calves will remain separate from the older weaned calves at the support block until they have finished their 7-10 days transition off meal.
  • Two of the crop-grass paddocks had areas too wet to cultivate and sow when the paddocks were resown a couple of weeks ago. These were ripped this week and are drying out nicely.
  • The new grass paddocks have germinated well and have a nice green tinge.

Animal Health

  • This week x2 cows have been identified as culls. One will be inspected by the vet due to poor production and general ill thrift; the other will be culled due to udder confirmation and high SCC.
  • One poorer calf will have a blood test taken this week.
  • Farmlets are receiving bloat oil and MgCl through the dosatron. Each cow is receiving 10.5 grams MgCl per day.
  • A proportion of each herd have been noted to have dirty tails and rough coats and many are the low BCS cows. The vets were contacted regarding the potential of an underlying internal parasite issue, options for determining this included: 1. Bulk milk test for ostertagia 2. Faecal egg count (FEC) of scruffy looking animals 3. Blood tests 4. Drench everything with Topline. It has been decided to do some FEC this week.

People Management

  • The farm team have their Farmtune meeting next week.
  • The Hub was lucky enough to have Makarewa School, with the support of The Plant Store team, out this week to get the first plants in for Stage 1 of our planted variable width buffer zone.

Research on-farm

  • Congratulations to Caitlin Crack on becoming a certified BCS assessor and Nicole S Hammond for passing her annual reassessment.
  • To improve our ability to follow the cumulative effects of the different farm systems on the performance of the young stock the DairyNZ funded research project has decided to fund DNA profiling all the animals at the hub. While we ran separate springer mobs for kale and fodder beet herds this spring which guaranteed we knew the winter diet of the dam, we would like to be able to confidently know the dam of each calf.
  • DairyNZ is currently on the look out for a ‘Casual Research Technician’. We require a practical, details focussed person to support our DairyNZ research technicians based at The Southern Dairy Hub. The role is on a casual basis, with hours ranging from 10-20hrs per week. Suited to someone who has some dairy farming experience and is interested in research. To find out more please email your CV to anna.clement@dairynz.co.nz

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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: