2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 28th May 2020

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

NOTE: The Spr on the feed wedges identifies our springer paddocks for next season. These paddocks will not be grazed again this season so by identifying them on the wedge we won’t accidentally include them in our grazing plan each week.

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 28th May 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 5.4
Rainfall (mm) 0
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Heifer & Light Mob 102 76 98 74
Cow Mob 101 95 105 96
Culls 20 (50%) 15 (38%) 18 (43%) 12 (31%)

Key Decisions: this week

  • We have had a few frosts followed by beautiful days this week however this has meant the soil temperature has plummeted and correspondingly growth rates have followed. Although colder we are still grateful for the dry autumn period which has made the end of the season and drying off a lot easier with only minimal superficial pugging damage.
  • Over the next week kale crop allocations will increase from 7 kg DM kale/cow/day with 6 kg DM baleage/cow/day (today: day 3 of transition) to 11.3 kg DM kale/cow/day with 3 kg DM baleage/cow/day by day 9.
  • The MA FB cows are currently on 5.5 kg DM FB/cow/day with 7 kg DM baleage/cow/day and will increase to 9.5 DM FB/cow/day with 3.2 kg DM baleage/cow/day by day 10. The heifers and light cows are a bit further behind in their transition and are currently on 3kg DM FB/cow/day with 9.5 kg DM baleage/cow/day and will slowly increase to 9.2 kg DM FB/cow/day with 3.5 kg DM baleage/cow/day by day 15.
  • At the end of transitioning period the kale cows will be allocated 14.5 kg DM/cow/day and the FB cows on 12.7 kg DM. The differences in total DM allocation are due to differences in crop quality and expected utilization with the fodder beet bulb having a higher ME and utilization being around 95% compared with only 75-80% utilization of the kale crop. You can read more about crop transitioning here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/crops/wintering-cows-on-crops/grazing-the-winter-crop
  • This week our focus will be ensuring the transitioning process goes smoothly. It will be very important to monitor all the mobs for signs of mastitis from drying off and acidosis from transitioning onto crop.
  • We have decided to put DCP onto the FB baleage as we noticed that some more dominant cows were hogging the Mg Phosphate drums and preventing others from getting their required allocations (50grams/cow/day).
  • Of the x64 cull cows still on farm we have managed to secure space for another x24 to go next Wednesday.

Figure 1: The cows enjoying their Mg P

General Notes:

  • We will do a final pasture walk next week to conclude the seasons cover, but the APC is looking to have finished bang on target ranging between 1900-2000 kg DM/ha.
  • With our autumn feed budget now finished we have reflected on our actual vs predicted supplement use information and summarized the data below

Table 3: Autumn supplementary feed summary – Budget vs Actual

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Blend Budget (kg DM) 34822 13535
Blend Actual (kg DM) 31321 21939
PKE Budget (kg DM) 0 0 8549 3136
PKE Actual (kg DM) 2034 2897 11371 7313
Baleage Budget (kg DM) 0 5418 7672 0
Baleage Actual (kg DM) 2457 4966 6543 8383
Fodder beet Budget (kg DM) 10549 9457
Fodder beet actual (kg DM) 9619 7547
TOTAL Budget (kg DM) 34822 18953 26761 12593
TOTAL Actual (kg DM) 36812 29802 27533 23253
Difference (kg DM total) 1990 5884 772 10660
Difference kgDM/cow 11 38 5 72
  • Crop yields will be measured on a fortnightly basis to keep track of DM yield and to assess crop variability so that allocations can be adjusted to ensure no under or over feeding, especially with FB.
  • On Wednesday we redrafted all the cows and heifers into their winter mobs and used the BCS camera to determine the pre-winter BCS of all animals. The mobs were split into Kale and FB and then further into heifers (including light cows) and cows. We now have x10 wintering mobs including the young stock at the support block plus our mob of culls!. Following the draft crop transitioning began with stock no longer on the milk platform pasture.

Figure 2: Looking down at some of the wintering mobs on the bottom terrace of the farm


  • The calves began transitioning onto crop on Monday 25th May and have enough of a grass strip to allow them to stay off pasture paddocks over the transitioning period. We noticed that the FB calves were not taking to the FB straight away so the farm team went out and chopped up FB bulbs to encourage them to have a taste. This method seems to have worked and they are slowly starting to get into eating them.

Figure 3: The FB R1s curious but unsure about the FB

Figure 4: The Kale R1s demonstrating their questionable crop utilization skills

Animal Health

  • With herds all dried off we will continue to monitor for any signs of mastitis.
  • With the heavy frosts we are very cautious about when cows can be let onto crop. You can read more about the animal health risks associated with frosted crops here under nitrate poisoning: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/crops/animal-health-problems-on-feeding-brassicas/
  • Through FB transition cows have been receiving Magnesium Phosphate loose lick in drums at each end of the break. They enjoy it so much that we have had a few drum hoggers so we will also start up DCP dusting onto baleage again to ensure everyone gets their minerals. We are also investigating alternatives to the drums to allow more cows to access the minerals at the same time. 

People Management and Visitors

  • We are looking forward to welcoming our new staff member who will join the team on the 2nd June, completing the farm team.

Research on-farm

  • Lactation research measurements have been completed but we are now moving into planning and implementation of the winter monitoring. This will involve regular crop yields and feed quality assessment, BCS, blood samples and if we can get everything in place some behaviour measurements to investigate lying and eating times of cows on the different crops and during different weather conditions.

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: