2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 27th June 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 27th June 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 5.9
Rainfall (mm) 4.8
Dry Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 11.3kg DM crop + 3-3.5kg DM baleage 10.6kg DM crop + 3-3.5kg DM baleage
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 159 134 159 133
R2’s 43 36 43 37

Key Decisions: this week

  • Farm walks have been occurring on a fortnightly basis due to slower growth rates over winter. Growth rates over the last 2 weeks ranged between 3-8kg DM/ha/day. A proportion of the paddocks on all farmlets recorded zero or negative growth during this period.  This can be attributed to differences in ground conditions between walks and also dead material in the base of the pastures breaking down in the wet conditions.
  • The average pasture cover is sitting around 2300 for all the farmlets, with all farmlets on track for the planned start of calving APC.
  • This week we received a SPACE estimate of pasture mass on the same day as the farmwalk.  We are currently correlating the data of the 3 pasture estimates – visual, plate and SPACE. From first glance the SPACE estimates were consistently higher than the plate estimates.   
  • Post-crop sampling was undertaken this week. This enables the SciTech team to estimate how much crop the cows are leaving behind and therefore how much they are eating.
  • Utilisation of the FB is in line with what we had estimated when calculating the feeding levels but the kale utilisation is slightly lower than what we were expecting. A combination of ground conditions, kale yield, face length and stock class is likely contributing to this result.

Table 3: Post-crop utilisation measurements

FB paddocks R10 48 98 35 50
FB % actually utilised 93% 94% 98% 35% 92%
FB target % utilised 90%
Kale paddocks R1 47 7 57 65
Kale % actually utilised 61% 58% 63% 79% 64%
Kale target % utilised 80%
  • Using the crop yield information from last week we have estimated the number of days left on crop with current cow numbers and allocation levels. However, the actual number of days left will be greater than this estimate as cow numbers on crop decline as springer are drafted off crop.
  • The LI FB mob appears to have a greater number of days left however some of this crop is targeted for lifting to feed to milkers during spring.
  • Currently the farmlet mobs are split based on R2s and lights vs. heavier BCS cows; mobs will be redrafted closer to calving based off their calving dates.

Table 4: Number of days left in crop paddock until finished

Farmlets Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Mob 1 Mob 2 Mob 1 Mob 2 Mob 1 Mob 2 Mob 1 Mob 2
Crop grazing days at current allocation 51 33 45 38 48 38 79 78

General Notes:

  • It has been a busy couple of days at SIDE this week with workshop presentations and manning the SDH stand. Thanks very much to our speakers: Dr Dawn Dalley (DairyNZ), Chris Smith (AgResearch) and Tony Miles (SDDT Chair), and also to the SDDT trustees, Richard Kyte, and Louise Cook for rostering on at the stand.

We would also like to thank everyone that came to our workshop and dropped by the stand for a chat. We appreciated your questions and feedback and hope to re-post some of the questions asked (with answers) over the next few weeks.

Figure 1: DairyNZ Consulting Officer Nicole Hammond testing the SDH survey online, you can do the survey too at: https://www.southerndairyhub.co.nz/


  • We are continuing to reinforce the need for implementation of good wintering practises on farm. With the very wet conditions we have also found this very challenging, but with appropriate management techniques we have been able to minimise the negative impacts. Practices we have used include:
  • Consistent use and regular shifting of back fences; this has significantly reduced mud and treading damage in the grazed parts of the paddock by preventing cows from wandering back and forth.
  • The use of a portable troughs close to the feeding face also minimises cow movement.
  • During the high rainfall periods we did not graze our wetter crop paddocks on the lower terrace. We remained on the top terrace until conditions improved.
  • We have re-yielded our crops to ensure that crop allocation and all the cows were BCS assessed following transition onto crop to check they are on target and that crops will last the length of winter.
  • Using a catch fence in case of any break outs. This not only prevents any animal health issues from gorging, it also preserves and maintains the accuracy of our carefully measured and allocated crops for future breaks.
  • The countdown is on for calving and preparation has begun. Calf sheds are set up with their bedding and a calving procedures manual has been written to ensure best management practises. Over the next few weeks calving kits will be assembled for bikes, calf sheds stocked with equipment, feeding gear cleaned and prepared, and a calf rearer hired.
  • A full team meeting is scheduled to discuss the systems and processes for calving and have a refresher on treating downer cows, identifying calving issues etc.

Animal Health

  • Cows are doing well on farm with only 1 case of acidosis occurring.
  • There was one lame cow this week from the LI kale farmlet; she has been brought in, her foot lifted and treated.


People Management and Visitors

  • This week we welcomed new Hub General Manager Louise Cook. Louise has been the demonstration manager for Owl Farm in Cambridge since April 2017. This role was primarily focused on strategic future farm development and hosting groups/sharing information from the farm at focus days and other events. She has had 13 years in the dairy industry as a Consulting Officer with DairyNZ, Business Manager for Landcorp, General Manager of farming for PKW Farms in Taranaki and then Owl Farm. We are very excited to have her as a part of our team.
  • Sadly at the start of the month we farewelled Research Technician Nicole Hammond. Nicole was one of the longest serving members of the SDH team and has made a huge contribution to the implementation of the research during this time. Nicole is one of those people who has a photographic memory and a strong ability with numbers. If Nicole couldn’t remember something it wasn’t worth remembering!! Through Nicole’s persistence with everything she did we are now in a great position to start the 2019-20 season. We wish Nicole all the best with her new role with Agricom.    
  • This week we also farewell our casual team member Robyn. Robyn has been working between the farm and science teams in recent months and her high energy and strong work ethic will be missed.
  • We are on the look out for a new farm assistant. If you are passionate about the industry with an eye for detail to support the farm operations and work alongside the research staff then we are looking for you! You can read more and apply at https://www.southerndairyhub.co.nz/jobs/
  • Next month we will be hitting the road to bring SDH to your region. The SDH Roadshow will be held at the following dates and locations and we strongly encourage you to register and come along to hear about what SDH is, the structure, location, details of the farm setup, objectives and how we tracked for the 2018/2019 season, farm systems implementation, trial work, environment, water quality and results so far. You can register with ronda.ridsdale@dairynz.co.nz or ph: 03 218 2274.


Tuesday 9th July

11am-1pm Milton (lunch supplied by FarmSource)

7pm-9pm Gore


Wednesday 10th July

11am-1pm Otautau (lunch supplied by FarmSource)

7pm-9pm Lumsden

Research on-farm

  • We are currently working through the wintering monitoring on the R1’s as part of a Lincoln University Honours project. An opportunity arose to complete the behaviour monitoring on these animals over a longer period and investigate the effect of internal parasites on grazing behaviour as part of another Lincoln University project. Next week the R1s will be drenched after which their behaviour will be monitored for a further 10 days. The activity tags will then be removed and all the animals weighed. 
  • AgResearch have been grazing their Fodder beet and Kale plots above the ceramic cups. Animals from appropriate mobs grazed the plots over a 24 hour period. The leaching results from this grazing will be compared with losses from the autumn grazed and lifted fodder beet plots.

Figure 2: Kale cows on the AgResearch trial plots

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: