2021/22 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 27 January 2022

Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

NB: Shaded pdks are being stepped over for conservation

NB: Top target line is for 17.5 kg DM intake from pasture only; bottom line used to determine supplementary feeding requirements

Table 1: KPI Table across all farmlets

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 27th January 2022

Soil temp (C) 17.7
Rainfall (mm) 11.2 mm
Allocations Target Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 18 kg DM
15 kg pasture
3 kg DM PKE: barley blend
18 kg DM
16 kg pasture
2 kg DM PKE: barley blend
18 kg DM
14 kg pasture
2 kg DM PKE
2kg DM baleage
18 kg DM
16 kg pasture
2 kg DM PKE
Baleage as required

Key Decisions


  • Managing pasture quality and allocation continues to be a priority as we struggle to hold milk production across all farmlets. 
  • Both kale farmlets and the LIFB farmlet have paddocks that are long days post graze and losing quality. The decision was made to harvest these to get the herds into paddocks further down the wedge with shorter return times and higher quality
  • To meet demand with baleage paddocks removed the Std Kale herd will require 3 kg/cow/day inshed feed, both LI herds 2 kg/cow/day and the Std FB herd will receive 2 kg inshed feeding plus 2 bales of baleage per day. 
  • Managing the residuals across all herds will be important this week with the amount of supplement being offered. Paddock selection will be crucial in seeing that the residuals are met. 
  • A combination of visual and plate data has been used for grazing decision making this week. Dry, stemmy pasture in the base of the sward following the recent dry conditions is still affecting the plate estimates.
  • We think pasture quality is the main driver behind the drop in milk production for all herds this week as the residuals don’t suggest there has been a shortage of dry matter. There is a significant amount of clover across the farm, which will help maintain quality but tends not to contribute as much total dry matter.
  • Additional pasture samples will be collected this week to give a greater understanding of the quality of the feed on offer. There is potentially more ADF and NDF (fibre) and less crude protein in the pastures at present. Fibre affects the intake potential of the feed and protein the milk production. 
  • A range of paddocks were sampled for DM% yesterday. The new grass paddock came back at 16.8% DM while the older pastures ranged between 23 and 27% DM with paddocks at the lower end of the range having more clover and lush urine patch areas and less days since the last grazing.  
  • The 4 pdks for pasture grass to grass renewal (x1 pdk per farmlet) were sprayed out last week and will be seeded as soon as possible. 
  • Soil temperature dropped this week to be similar to the same time last year. Season to date rainfall is only 10 mm behind the same time last year.

Milk Production

  • We have noticed a drop in litres across all herds this week but some of this has been compensated for by an increase in fat and protein composition.

Figure 1: Daily kgMS/cow comparison

  • As seen in Table 1, the two FB herds average production is approximately 0.2 kg MS/cow/day lower than the kale herds and has been more variable. The surprising result was the significant drop in production from the kale herds.  
  • Low BCS cows in all herds are on OAD milking, however the Std FB herd still have the highest % of OAD cows with 13% of the herd. 
  • There are differences between the kale and fodder beet herds in the protein to fat ratio with kale herds fluctuating between 0.79 and 0.83 while the fodder beet herds are between 0.76 and 0.79. Two factors are driving these differences 1. the kale milk is generally higher in protein than the FB milk while the FB cows are producing milk with higher fat. These differences suggest differences in the quality of the feed on offer with the lower protein in the FB herds suggesting a shortage of energy in the diet with a higher fibre diet driving up milk fat%. 
  • Herbage samples in the last month have returned lower crude protein but they are still in the range that should be sufficient to maintain the current level of milk production

General Notes


  • The first scan of the herds was completed last week for all herds and at a farm level 6 week in calf rate has lifted again on last years results, sitting at 73.8%. Well done farm team!

Figure 2: The VetSouth team busy scanning the herd this week

  • The Std FB herd has had the biggest increase from 68% last season to 74.9% this season, however the collar data suggests there could possibly be a few phantom pregnancies in this herd. The data will be interrogated over the coming weeks to see if this is a possibility. 
  • The re-scan has been booked for 3rd of March, to confirm the late pregnancies and check any animals that the activity data suggests a different pregnancy status from the initial scan.

Figure 3: 6-week in calf rate over the last 3 years

  • Scanning was also completed on the R2’s at the graziers this week with the results coming back as 81% 6-week in calf rate. As seen in table 3 below, the LI FB herd replacements (Yellows) have the highest number of rechecks.

Table 3: 6 week in calf rate data for the R2’s

  • Rechecks have been booked in for the 10th of February for these heifers.


Young Stock

  • To clarify after some feedback from our notes last week, the calves that went to the graziers last week had an average liveweight of 150kg and the 85 calves that remain at the support block averaged 132kg on the 11th of January
  • The calves at the support block will be brought in for drenching next week and will be weighed again to measure their gains over the past 3 weeks.


Animal Health

  • Considering the amount of clover that has been seen across the farm recently, there has been no sign of bloat
  • Bloat oil will remain in the system as a precautionary measure. 



  • After no N being applied last week due to limited rain in the forecast we are confident of sufficient rain over the next 10 days to recommence N applications on the Std farmlets and to all new grass paddocks following grazing. 
  • Despite receiving 10-15 mm rain per week through January Figure 5 below indicates that soil moisture levels are not far off stress point. This is an ideal opportunity to keep the effluent irrigators going to provide additional N and water to as many paddocks as possible during the drier period.  

Figure 4: January soil moisture data from HALO.


  • As part of the farm system comparison, we are interested in tracking changes in pasture composition on an annual basis, particularly in relation to the reduction in N fertiliser applications for the LI farmlets  
  • Next week we will start completing botanical compositions on each paddock just prior to grazing to add to the data in Figure 4 below

Figure 5: Average clover proportion for farmlet paddocks across the three years of the study

  • Results of blood samples collected from all herds early in January have come back and are summarised below
  • On average the serum calcium, magnesium and phosphorus concentrations for the fodder beet herds were lower than the kale herds (Table 4) but all were in the normal range.
  • All cows sampled in the kale herds had values above the minimum reference range 
  • The Std FB herd had 8% of animals with Mg below the reference range and 13% below the reference range for phosphorus
  • The LIFB herd had 5% of animals sampled with Mg & P below the relevant reference ranges 
  • In contrast the blood urea concentrations were higher in the fodder beet herds and reflect the higher crude protein content of the pastures being grazed at the same time. 


Table 4: Herd average blood metabolite concentrations from morning and afternoon collected samples plus pasture crude protein from the paddock grazed at the same time

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: