2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 27th May 2021

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 27/05/2021 – number of cows in each mob

DATE: 27 May 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 0 0 0 0
Dries 203 168 203 168 742

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 27/5/2021

Soil temp (C) 7.2
Rainfall (mm) 8.2
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Dry cows once transitioned Kale 10.8-11.8 kg DM/cow

Baleage 4.4–3.3 kg DM/cow
Kale 11.8 kg DM/cow

Baleage 3.3 kg DM/cow
Beet 9-10 kg DM/cow

Baleage 4.2–3.3 kg DM/cow
Beet 9.8 kg DM/cow

Baleage 3.3 kg DM/cow

Key Decisions: this week

  • Well that is the 2020-21 season done and dusted. The final cows were dried off on Wednesday and now all are transitioning onto crop.
  • We have locked in the transitioning plan for each of the herds.
    • Kale herds will be held on 3 kg crop for 4 days with the remainder of the diet being pasture baleage, oaten baleage and hay. After 4 days crop allocation will be increased to 6 kg DM/cow and then by 2 kg DM/day up to the full allocation. Oats and hay will be removed as crop allocation increases
    • Fodder beet herds will also be held on 3 kg crop from 4 days with the same supplement regime as above. After 4 days the crop allocation will be increased by 0.5 kg DM/day up to their full allocation. Oats and hay will be removed after 6 days and pasture baleage used to achieve the desired DM intake.
  • Back fences will be moved daily by the same amount as the front fence.
  • Water troughs will be moved daily and will be positioned up by the feed face
  • Fodder beet cows are currently getting 100 g DCP/cow applied to their baleage each day. Loose lick minerals have arrived so these will be offered in troughs starting in the next couple of days.
  • We have a small mob of lame cows from the fodder beet herds that are being held off crop until they have recovered. To allow them to be returned to their wintering mobs we have started transitioning them onto beet utilising one of the calf paddocks which is adjacent to a beet paddock. A time-based approach will be used for crop allocation until sufficient area is opened up and the allocation is high enough to allow daily allocation.
  • We have identified an area for any kale cows that go lame during winter to be pulled out into. They will be wintered on baleage in this area.
  • We worked through our contingency plan for wet weather. As our soils are already pretty saturated it is not going to take much rain for conditions to deteriorate looking at the 7 day forecast. Based on the research we did last winter our triggers for implementing the contingency plan will be:
    • amount and number of days of rain – approx. 15-20 mm rain over two days and more in the forecast
    • percentage of surface pooling in the available area – more than 50% of the break with pooling will require cows to be moved
  • The two paddocks on the flats are our higher risk areas. We have identified the paddocks cows will move into if they have to be pulled out and these will be set up ready to go.
  • In other paddocks the contingency options include:
    • Increasing area available by either offering a second crop break (kale herds only) or by moving the back fence further away from the feed face to include drier areas the cows may have already been through
    • Using our drying off hay rolled out across the break to provide a more comfortable lying surface
    • Moving the mob into an area in a springer paddock or a drier crop paddock.
  • The R1’s will receive a long acting Se treatment and a copper bolus as soon as it is practical to get them into the yards.

General Notes:

  • No farm walk was done this week as we concentrated on finishing off crop yields, getting cows dried off and starting the transition onto crop. The final walk for the season will be done on Wednesday next week.
  • All animals were body condition scored this week. The mixed age fodder beet cows averaged 4.4 and the mixed age kales 4.6. The range of BCS for each herd is presented below:

Figure 1: Body condition score range for the mixed age cows in each herd


  • The heifers had their second trip round the platform this week when they came in for BCS assessment and auditing cow count.
    • Kale heifers averaged BCS 5.4 and fodder beet heifers BCS 5.5
  • Our R1’s are transitioning onto crop on the support block.
    • The kale crop the kale animals are currently grazing is dense with small stems resulting in good utilisation (Figure 2). With their diet being topped up with additional baleage as they transition we are happy with this residual however once they are fully transitioned we would be expecting more to be left behind if we are to achieve the desired winter liveweight gain of 0.6 kg/day.
    • This year the fodder beet R1’s are being held on their fodder beet paddock and offered additional baleage. This approach appears to have got them eating the beet bulbs quicker than in previous years when we have run them off onto a grass paddock at night.

Figure 2: R2’s transitioning onto kale

Animal Health

  • Lameness continued to be a challenge in the fodder beet herds at the end of the season. While the cows were not spending more time on concrete or walking more they were spending an hour a day grazing fodder beet crop in wet conditions.

People Management and Visitors

Research on-farm

  • Our citizen science project with Hedgehope-Makarewa Catchment group has kicked off in earnest this week with the team out and about on commercial farms doing crop yields and soil measurements. We plan to start grazing the two paddocks at SDH around the 10th of June once all mobs are fully transitioned onto crop. The latest crop yields have been done in the first part of our paddocks and our strip tilled fodder beet has not recovered from the impact of pest damage in the early stages and weeds just before canopy closure. There are definitely things that we could have done differently that would have likely resulted in a better outcome e.g. paddock preparation and weed & pest management. There were also timing differences between the establishment of the treatments which need to be considered. It will be interesting to see the yields of the crops on commercial farms that have been established the same way.

Table 3: Crop yields in our establishment demonstration paddocks.

Yield % leaf No. plants/quad
Conventional Fodder beet 21.8 31 19
Strip Till Fodder beet 6.1 26 8
Direct Drilled Fodder beet 17.2 26 10
Conventional Kale 10.9
Direct drilled Kale 9.3

Figure 3: On-farm measurements with Natalie Stocker, DairyNZ technical team and local farmer volunteers.

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: