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

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 16.9
Rainfall (mm) 21.6
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 16.0
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.33 (+ 0.04) 1.40 (+ 0.09)
Average milk fat (%) 5.42 (- 0.06) 5.45 (- 0.05)
Average milk prot (%) 4.29 (- 0.03) 4.31 (- 0.03)
Average SCC (cells/ml) 183 (-29) 158 (+5)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 161 149 147 129
Milkers – OAD 17 11 26 23
Other/Penos 3 4 7 5

Key Decisions: this week

  • Continue with the current pasture allocation to achieve a grazing rotation of 35 days. This requires one paddock per week from each farmlet to be grazed for 48 hours so paddock order for grazing takes this into account. In the Std. Kale it is essential this round length is strictly followed to prevent eating into cover and further reducing the feed wedge balance.
  • Supplement will be fed to the Std. Kale this week in the 48-hour grazed paddock. Three bales of baleage will be fed (equivalent to 2kg DM/cow/day) and residuals in the 36 hour grazed paddocks will be assessed to determine if baleage also needs to be fed to achieve targeted DM intake.
  • Unlike the Std. Kale farmlet which is running below target on the feed wedge, two farmlets – x2 (Std. FB) and x1 (Std. Kale) paddocks will be stepped over for conservation.
  • The final application of N (25 kg N/ha) will be made on the Std farmlets over the next 15 days. Soil temperatures must be above 7 °C and we will not apply N after mid April as outlined in our decision rules.

General Notes:

  • After the Farm Reference Group meeting last week it has been decided that the target APC at the 1st June be lifted for the LI farmlets from 2000kg DM/ha to 2100kg DM/ha. This was decided as we are unsure of the growth pattern through spring in these lower N farmlets. More options are available to deal with surplus pasture in spring than not enough during this period. The autumn feed budgets are being revised to reflect this change.
  • X20 culls left the farm this week consisting of x8 Std kale, x7 LI Kale, x5 Std FB and no LI FB. The decision has been made to try and cull the remaining x21 Std. Kale cows as soon as possible to decrease the feed demand on the farmlet.
  • Crop yields have been completed on all the fodder beet and Kale paddocks. The confirmed FB yields, based on DM% from each paddock, have come through at a range of 10.5-21.8t DM, with an expected gain in yield of 3 t DM between now and the 1st June.
  • The paddock at 10.5 t DM/ha is a 2nd year paddock very badly impacted by poor seedbed preparation and a resulting heavy weed burden. The highest paddock at 21.8 t DM/ha is a crop that followed kale last winter.
  • The average leaf DM% was 9.2% and average bulb DM% was 15%
  • The crops currently average 34% leaf (range 29 to 38%)
  • The Kale crop estimate yields, to be confirmed next week once the DM results are complete, have been estimated at a range of 7.2-11.2 t DM/ha on the milking platform, based on 10%DM (the average from last year).
  • From walking through the crop, compared with last year, the Kale has taken a better strike with 2-3 times more plants per square meter. However, although there are more plants, they are thinner compared to the thicker stems last season.
  • Crop yields will be completed from approximately the same areas in the paddocks in April and May. To allow this to occur flags are being used to mark the areas in the kale paddocks (see below).
  • Soil samples have been collected from the potential 2020 crop paddocks. Results will be used to finalise the selection and commence the correction of any nutrient imbalances before establishment next spring.


Figure 1: Measuring crop yields

Animal Health

Figure 2: Magnesium blood test results

Figure 3: Selenium blood test results


  • It has been decided to complete a full herd Johnes test at the next herd test (15th April). This will help us to be more proactive with the management of Johnes animals and eradicating it out of the herd. Season to date 4 animals have been confirmed positive with Johnes. More information on Johnes disease and its management can be found here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/cow-health/johnes-disease/

People Management and Visitors

  • Full SDRF board meeting on farm including a shared lunch with the farm and tech teams.

Research on-farm

  • The last of the botanical compositions were completed this week. Over the last 4 weeks the tech team have been collecting pasture snip samples (cut to ground level) to determine the species composition in each paddock.
  • Results in the table below show that the LI farmlet paddocks, on average, contain less ryegrass and more clover. Differences in the % dead, other grass and weeds is less between the Std and LI farmlets. The relatively high dead content reflects that the pastures were sampled to ground level. Very little of this dead material was present in the grazing horizon.
  • The increase in clover content after less than 12 months of the N fertiliser regime is encouraging as these plants will fix N that will support pasture growth

Table 3: Average botanical composition of pasture paddocks from each farm system

No. pdks Ryegrass % White Clover % Dead % Other grass% Weeds %
LI_FB (Yellow) 21 56.5 17.0 21.4 4.2 0.9
LI_Kale (Blue) 22 56.1 15.8 22.9 3.6 1.6
Std_FB (Green) 23 62.3 7.8 22.6 6.0 1.2
Std_Kale (Pink) 21 65.6 10.3 19.6 3.3 1.2

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: