2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 28th October 2021

Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

Hatched bars are paddocks stepped over for conservation.

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 28/10/2021 – number of cows in each mob

DATE: 28 Oct 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Cows on Farm 198 161 194 162 715
Milkers TAD 192 159 191 158 700
Sick OAD 6 2 3 4 15
Springers 0 0 0 0 0
Slips/empty/deaths 3 5 14 4 26

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 28th October 2021

Soil temp (C) 15
Rainfall (mm) 9mm
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
18-19 kg DM 4 kg inshed + 2.5 kg baleage 18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
(FB if required in individual pdks)
18 kg DM
18 kg pasture
(1-1.5kg FB if required in individual pdks)

Key Decisions: this week

  • Finally, the grass has arrived, and we are now putting measures in place to deal with a surplus to maintain quality feed going forward.
  • As a way of maintaining pasture quality and round length, the decision has been made to take 7 paddocks out of the round (2 in LI FB, 2 in Std FB, 2 in Std Kale and 1 in LI Kale) and these will be mowed for baleage next week. 
  • Discretionary topping will be used for individual paddocks that don’t hit residual targets which is a flow on effect from wet conditions and poor utilisation from the previous round. 
  • Hitting consistent residuals has been a challenge over the past week with the level of feed being offered, so from today all supplementary feed from the four farmlets has been removed (with the exception being around 20 lighter cows on OAD milking still getting priority in-shed feed). 
  • We are targeting a 25-day round length, which has meant that the grazing plan for the next week has a mixture of 2 or 3 feeds per paddock depending on pre graze residual. For ease of management for the paddocks that will only be getting 2 feeds per day (24 hour grazing) no fence will be put up. However, for paddocks requiring 3 feeds, the farm team will be required to put up on break fence so the cows will have 1x 12 and 1x 24 hour grazing.
  • Based on residuals and improved utilisation with better paddock and weather conditions the target pasture intake has been reduced to 18 kg DM/cow/day. With the mature size of our cows, we do not believe herd average intake is greater than this. We will reassess next week based on how cows graze this week. Individual cows will be consuming more than 18 kg but younger animals will be eating less. 
  • Groundwork is well underway with an Italian being sown today for baleage and grass wintering next winter. Ploughing has also started this week for paddocks going back into permanent pastures. 
  • Baleage has been cut at the support block and there are more paddocks booked in to be mowed next week.
  • Cows below BCS 4 are being milked OAD and those from the kale herds get priority inshed feeding. There are currently x10 Std kale, x10 LI kale, x15 Std FB and x5 LI FB in the OAD group at the moment.

General Notes

  • We put CIDR’s in this week to cows that had not cycled but were more than  50 days post calving. Cows were identified from data extracted from the Allflex collars and weekly pre-mating heat recordings using tail paint. The team are excited to have the collar data to assist with heat detection going forward. After consultation with the vets 46 of the 71 cows identified had a CIDR put in.
  • As shown in the table below the number of cows that ended up with a CIDR were highest in the Std Kales (18) and Std FB (14), with only 7 CIDR’s being required in both the LI Kale and LI FB herds.

Table 3: Number of cows CIDR per farmlet

  • As mentioned last week, the Allflex team were in to provide training and are due back on the 3rd November for further training with the whole team.
  • Due to above demand growth rates and the current pasture surplus that we are facing the decision has been made to sell the fodderbeet that is in the bunker (around 1/3 of a bunker). However, we still have a pile in the paddock that we will keep and use as required for the FB herds.

Figure 1: Left over fodderbeet to be sold

  • Due to the new farm systems research starting next season, there has been a reduction in the area going into fodderbeet due to no longer requiring FB as a supplement on the shoulders of the milking season. 
  • N will continue to be applied (25 kg N/ha) to the Std farmlets following grazing
  • Maintenance fertiliser applications are continuing 
  • All calves are now outside enjoying this great weather. There are only a handful of calves left on the platform which will be moved to the support block in the coming weeks.
  • This week, we have had the digger in emptying out the weeping wall and the solids are being spread over the paddocks that will be going into winter crop next year. Manure samples will be taken to determine the nutrient content in the solids, and then fertilizer applications rates can be altered accordingly if need be.

Figure 2: Weeping wall solids being emptied and spread onto next year’s crop paddocks

  • Milk production for the LI FB has started to pick back up again after both FB farmlets lagging last week. We hope they continue to take a positive turn up and must ensure that the pasture remains of good milking quality to achieve this.

Figure 3: Average daily kg MS/cow for each farmlet

Figure 4: Average kg MS/cow/day for each week of the season

  • Daily milk production is currently tracking along nearly the exact same as this time last year.

Figure 5: Total daily milk production comparison

Animal Health

  • Herd test results picked up 5 subclinical mastitis cases, these cows have since been treated. There was a small number of other mastitis cases that have had samples taken and the results are still pending.
  • All four herds were drenched with TopLine pour on (25mls) primarily for lice control last week as there has been lots of scratching going on.
  • A preventative drench programme is due to start in the coming weeks on the calves at the support block.
  • A group of calves will be weighed this week and collection of DNA samples will commence

SDH Research/Demonstration

  • On a fortnightly basis Nicole and Tash do calibration cuts for the rising plate meter to confirm our pasture mass estimates from the weekly farm walk. This involves selecting paddocks across the range of pasture mass, cutting all the pasture to ground level from within 24x 0.259 m2 quadrat then washing the pasture to remove any soil contamination and drying for at least 24 hours at 100 °C. 
  • The relationship between pasture height and mass is determined and compared with the winter plate meter calibration of height x 140 + 500
  • Currently the calibration cuts are indicating that there is less total DM present than the winter equation is predicting across the range of pasture mass, however when we look at the difference between pre- and post-grazing predictions i.e. the available pasture dry matter there is very little difference between the two equations so we are continuing to use the winter equation for decision making.
  • This does mean however, that the APC across the farmlets is not as high as the wedges suggest and residuals are close to the target of 15-1600 kg DM/ha
  • Possible reasons for the differences between the winter equation and our calibration cuts are: 
    • the openness of many of our pastures following pugging during wet conditions 
    • stem elongation holding the plate higher during measurement
    • variability in the pasture cultivars across the farm.

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/