2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 28th February 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 28th February 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 14.6
Rainfall (mm) 16.4
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 16.0
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.38 1.35
Average milk fat (%) 5.26 (+ 0.36) 5.27 (+ 0.13)
Average milk prot (%) 4.21 (- 0.04) 4.19 (+ 0.1)
Average SCC (cells/ml) 152 146
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 178 158 169 137
Milkers – OAD 7 8 16 16
Other/Penos 4 5 2 4

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week cows were still returning to some paddocks to clean up, however, overall the consistency of target residuals has improved. In some paddocks the cows have refused to graze down into the base of the pastures throughout the season which has created quality issues we need to address before next season. To avoid too much topping across the farmlets at this stage in the season we will target these paddocks for a tight grazing in the next round; the team have been taking notes from these harder to graze, poorer quality paddocks through the season and we will develop a plan for them for next season to stay on top of their quality issues right from the start. Given the range of cultivars across the farm we will look for trends in what has been observed. 
  • With cows returning to paddocks to clean up, the rotation lengths of the farmlets have pushed out to an average of 40 days this week (excluding the LI FB farmlet). We are constantly revisiting our pasture mass estimates and pre-graze targets to better align Returning to paddocks can be attributed to conservative pre-grazing estimates below what is actually in the paddock and hence over allocation of grass per grazing.
  • The LI FB farmlet has remained at a 30-day rotation and continues to be the only farmlet receiving supplement of X1 bale of baleage/paddock, equivalent to 1.5kg DM/cow/36 hours. With this herd being tight for pasture N will be used to increase growth and help hold and then extend the rotation to 35 days; N fertiliser will be applied to all paddocks on this farmlet at 25kg N/ha over the next 2 weeks.
  • The Std. farmlets will start their second to last round of N fertiliser this week.
  • It was decided to hold off on applying the last round of N fertiliser to the LI Kale farmlet as it is currently on a longer rotation of 40 days and does not require the assistance of N boosted growth to meet cow demand. The decision to apply N to the LI kale farmlet will be monitored and made over the next few weeks.
  • Paddocks identified for conservation last week are still shut up waiting to be harvested. This includes: x1 paddock from the Std. Kale and x2 from Std. FB. The LI kale paddock has been returned to the grazing rotation as there are a couple of paddocks mid wedge that need to be grazed but will only have enough feed for 24 hours. Removing these high mass paddocks will help keep the grazed paddocks at our target pre-grazing covers so we achieve the desired residual within the proposed grazing period and minimise how often the cows go back to paddocks to achieve the targets.

General Notes:

  • This week the calves and R2s were DNA sampled. The cows will be DNA sampled later in the month.
  • The process of assembling an autumn and winter feed budget has begun to assess (based off sensitivity analysis of potential crop yields) how much baleage will be needed for crops and whether any additional bales need to be purchased. Being proactive and forecasting these requirements will ensure animals are fully fed over this time and the purchasing of any additional feed is made in a timely manner.
  • As part of this process we will also be identifying how much fodder beet needs to be earmarked for autumn and spring feeding to the LI FB and Std FB herds given this is their main source of supplementary feed for these periods. 


Figure 1: Kale crop beginning to show some good height against the fence post

Animal Health

  • We have noticed a slight increase in lame cows over the last couple of weeks which has coincided with the wetter weather conditions. The farm team have been lifting the feet, doing a bit of hoof trimming and determining what treatment is required.

People Management and Visitors

  • The SDRF board met with the Research Advisory Committee this week and discussed what we all need to do to realise the SDH vision of being “an internationally recognised, innovative and leading centre of excellence for dairy farming, comparative research, and extension”
  • Lincoln University student Paige Harris will be utilising the resources of SDH for her honours project as part of her final year of study. We look forward to having Paige on farm with the team at various times during the season as she collects data for her project.

Research on-farm

  • This week the tech team were very busy completing botanical composition assessments on all the pasture paddocks to see if there are any trends emerging between treatments or cultivars. These results will not be out for another 3 weeks but you can view a time lapse video of the process on the Southern Dairy Hub facebook page.

Figure 2: Botanical composition

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 ProposalsThe 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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: