2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 27th August 2020

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 27/08/2020 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 27 Aug 2020  Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Calved 48% 51% 47% 50%
Calved colostrum 6% 3% 6% 6%
Springers 20% 21% 19% 17%
Dries on crop 25% 25% 29% 27%

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 27/08/2020

Soil temp (C) 7.1
Rainfall (mm) 12.8
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Dry cows on crop 9 crop + 4 baleage 9.5 crop + 3 baleage
DCP 50 g/cow/d
Springers 5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d
5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d + DCP 50 g/cow/d
Colostrums 15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 100 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 100 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
Milkers 16kg DM pasture 16kg DM pasture

Key Decisions: this week

  • Our biggest focus this week has been managing an increase in FB down cows. We experienced x2 FB springers and x1 FB colostrum cows going down. We target a minimum of 1.3 or greater P levels in the blood and these animals had levels of 0.36-0.76!  Blood tests have indicated that magnesium levels are OK but P and Ca are below the safe range, however this is to be expected in down cows. We decided to take blood samples from a few late dries still on crop and also cows in the milkers to check their levels and determine where the supplementation plan is falling over.  Until blood results are back we decided to increase the DCP to the springers and colostrum cows to 100 g/cow/day.
  • Although the weather at the start of the week was good, it has been variable the last few days with a bit of extra rain. Plate measurements are suggesting an average growth across the week of 20-30kg DM/ha however a number of our paddocks have very strong clumps with poorer growth between which may be overestimating the yield. Growth rate of the visual assessments was 15-25 kg DM/day.
  • The spring rotation planner is up to 1.1 ha/farmlet/day allocated this week and we continue to track below the predicted area used so will continue to increase pasture allocation while ensuring acceptable residuals are being acheived. The APC below also shows the farmlets to be tracking above the predicted APC so we need to get on top of this to avoid pasture quality issues later in the first rotation.

Figure 1: APC predicted vs. actual

  • A custom N fertiliser is being considered for the LI farmlets to ensure that when nitrogen is applied in the first round they still receive the same amounts of S as the Std farmlets, that we will be using an ammonium based product on, even though they are getting less N.
  • We continue to monitor soil temperatures with the aim of starting N applications once temperatures are consistently above 7 degrees and rising.
  • The kale cows will finish their crop at the weekend and will follow the milkers to clean up any untidy residuals. The colostrums have been grazing to good residuals though the springers have made a mess the last few days due to the rain.
  • Although we are still finishing up with winter 2020 our focus over the next week will be around decision making for next year’s crop paddocks in light of the Essential Fresh Water requirements for winter 2021. Considerations will be whether the paddocks we choose to crop can be successfully grazed over winter while adhering to <50% of the paddock with pugging less than 5cm depth and no pugging greater than 20 cm except around fixed structures ie. water troughs and gateways.

General Notes:

  • Tonight we go to daily milk pickups and will start splitting the kale and FB milk into two vats. Below is the trend line for milk production with the FB herds on average tracking higher than the Kale herds.

Figure 2: L/cow/day for each farmlet

  • For those that did not read last week’s notes, the yearlings had their liveweights and statures measured:
  • The FB average LW was 243 kg, average daily gain (ADG) since 25 June was 0.42 kg/day, and the liveweight range is 196-294 kg. There was 10% less than 220 kg.
  • Kale average LW was 240 kg, ADG since 25 June was 0.42 kg/day, and the liveweight range is 210-293 kg. There was 11% less than 220 kg.

Figure 3: R1 Liveweight distribution for 20th August 2020

  • As of today (27th August) we have x143 heifers out of our required x240. The LI kale farmlet is struggling with replacement numbers so far.
  • Today another x90 calves were dehorned. For dehorning we opt to sedate, use local anaesthetic and long acting medicam to ensure our calf recovery is not delayed and they are back to themselves within 24 hours of dehorning. 
  • BCS has been postponed till next Monday. From the results we will do an assessment of the light and at-risk cows.

Animal Health

  • As mentioned at the start of the notes we have had x3 down cows this week plus a number of others that have been treated as a precaution following an assisted calving or them coming to the shed wobbly or a bit flat. Hopefully the extra DCP to springers and colostrum cows will get on top of the issues.
  • Below is a summary of calving animal health events season to date.

Table 3: Calving animal health summary 28 August 2020

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Acidosis 2
Assisted calving 6 3 4 1
Metabolic - clinical 1 2 4 2
Metabolic - preventative 4 2 4 1
Metritis 1 1
Other 3
  • We had two FB cows treated for acidosis this week after they were moved into a different area of the paddock and possibly gorged themselves as they were moved a bit later due to everything else that was going on. They were removed from the crop and given MgOx and put on pasture. Despite being on fodder beet for more than 2 months this episode highlights how careful we need to be in making sure mob numbers are kept updated and break sizes adjusted as springers are drafted out and feeding routines maintained through the busy calving period if fodder beet is still be offered to dry cows. 
  • From the herd test earlier in the week we paddled x11 cows; x3 had mastitis and have been treated.
  • R3s will receive their selenium jab at the beginning of next week.
  • A sample of x20 R2s will have BVD bloods taken and they will also be weighed before they leave for the grazier on the 1st Sept.

People Management and Visitors

  • Under Covid Level 2 restrictions visitors to the farm are being minimised to only those required for the farm activities and for research purposes. 

Research on-farm

  • This week we took the first lot of monthly pasture samples for quality determination and have been able to compare them with the same time last year.
    • The ME’s average 12.4 MJ/kg DM, compared with only 11.2 at the same time last year.
    • Crude protein averaged 22% with all paddocks tested being above 19% compared with paddocks as low as 14% last year and an average of 19%.
    • Pasture dry matter is currently 20.4%
    • Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium concentrations are similar to last year but potassium has dropped from 3.1 to 2.8% this year which is beneficial from a metabolic disease perspective.
  • A new monitoring protocol is being started on the Forage Value Index validation trial with a pasture quality sample being collected from each of these prior to grazing. The paddocks will be plated before and after grazing to estimate pasture removed.
  • The experiment continuing to look at the impact of kale and fodder beet feeding in late pregnancy on the calves at birth through to puberty has commenced. 

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:

https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/research/research-farms/southern-dairy-hub/