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

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 10.9
Rainfall (mm) 5.2
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 18 18
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% milkers in Penos/OAD 2% 1% 3% 2%
% TAD Milkers 94% 94% 89% 94%
% OAD milkers 4% 5% 8% 4%

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week the remainder of our conserved paddocks were harvested for baleage. With these paddocks being out of the round, accompanied by low growth rates and continued poor weather, has resulted in our feed wedges looking a bit tight. The LI FB farmlet has the biggest gap, which maybe partly attributed to 50% of their farmlet being mown in the last month.
  • The LI FB herd will remain on a 30 day rotation and baleage will be fed out based off residuals left in the first break.

Figure 1: All harvested bales are accurately labelled so that they can be fed back to their correct farmlets


  • The LI Kale are also tight for feed but their feed wedge is in a slightly better position than the LI FB farmlet. The LI Kale will stay on a 30 day rotation (3 feds/paddock) and will move to next paddock if cows are hitting target residuals early. This strategy will be reconsidered early next week and if necessary baleage will be added.
  • The table below shows the number of bales and equivalent kg DM/cow made per farmlet over the last 2 weeks.
  • This week the 2 standard farmlet and the LI Kale had x2 paddocks cut but the LI FB had x5 paddocks cut because last week 2 paddocks at the top of the wedge had gone past ideal grazing height and growth rates supported taking the additional surplus off. These paddocks only yielded 9 bales/pdk compared with 25-30 bales/pdk for paddocks that had been earmarked for conservation 14-21 days previously. 

Table 3: Baleage conserved off each farmlet over the last 2 weeks

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Bales 20 Nov 65 50 66 46
Kg DM/cow 73 67 75 62
Bales 27th Nov 62 63 54 71
Kg DM/cow 70 85 62 96
Total kg DM/cow season to date 143 157 137 158
  • We have revised the estimated pasture intake down to 18kg DM/cow/day this week. We are past peak production and based on current feed allocation and residuals the herd are not consuming 19 kg DM/cow on average. We are expecting better pasture utilisation with better ground conditions and more settled weather. 
  • Fertiliser for the Std. farmlets 3rd round has still yet to be applied due to contractor delays and weather conditions.
  • Given the current feed position on the LI farmlets and that fact that many of the paddocks are well through heading we have decided to commence our 2nd round of N fertiliser on the LI farmlets next week. The current decision rules around fertiliser application to the LI farmlets takes into account for the fact that they only have 50kg N/ha allocation for the whole season. The rational behind the December application is to give the plants a boost post heading to help with tillering and push some growth into summer. The December application will be 15kg N/ha (approximately 35kg of Urea) behind the cows to the LI farmlets, but as we are in early December we are avoiding the paddocks that can receive effluent to ensure best possible benefit from all nutrient sources.

General Notes:

  • Like most local farmers around us we are hanging out for a few good days of sunshine to dry out paddock conditions. It has been great to finally have most of the crop sown now with just 2each of FBeet and Kale paddocks left to plant.
  • Last week we had to top a few more paddocks (x7); some were paddocks initially shut-up for baleage and then brought back into the grazing round (Std Kale and LI FBeet) while others were ones that did not achieve residual due to wet conditions in the previous rotation. This meant they had quite a thick, dead base that needed to be tidied up mechanically to allow for good regrowth.
  • Last week was N intake week on farm. This involves the techs doing pre and post plating of all paddocks grazed from Monday morning to Thursday to estimate herd dry matter intake. Pasture samples are also collected from all the paddocks grazed during the week for quality determination. Combining this information allows us to estimate the N intake of the herds once a week each month.  Below is a table of the results; it shows that LI farmlets currently have pastures higher om DM% and NSC but lower N, CP and S. The N and S variation is most likely due to not receiving any Ammo applications compared to the Std. Farmlets.

Table 3: N intake week results for each farmlet

Std Kale 15.7 11.8 2.9 18.3 0.35 2.70 0.30 0.59 0.18
LI Kale 17.6 11.7 2.4 14.7 0.34 2.20 0.24 0.53 0.17
Std FB 15.5 11.3 3.1 19.6 0.37 3.05 0.35 0.52 0.20
LI FB 17.5 11.1 2.0 12.5 0.33 2.35 0.21 0.48 0.16
  • We have now passed our first 21 days of mating. On Monday we looked at the cows that had not cycled in the first 3 weeks but had been recorded as having a pre-mating heat. Of the x48 that were identified in this category, x32 got a PG jab (4% Std Kale, 5.7% Std FB, 4.3% LI Kale, 4.9% LI FB) and so far x12 have been mated.
  • We have started drilling down into our 3-week SR and are observing some interesting results, however we need to sit down and fully analyse the data to truly understand the results and potential reasoning for the variations between farmlets and age groups. Overall the farmlets had a 3-week SR of 81% (National target is 90%), with a 10% variation between farmlets. You can read more about incalf rates and reproduction here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/reproduction-and-mating/.
  • The Std. FB farmlet is tracking the lowest and the LI Kale tracking the highest, as seen in the graph below. There also appears to be a flatten off near the end of the 3 weeks.

Figure 2: 3 week SR of all farmlets


  • Cows 4 years and older in the Std. FB had a much poorer 3-week submission rate (Figure 3). Although LI Kale also started slow, they were able to catch-up and finish with the highest 3 week SR.

Figure 3: 3 week submission rate for 4 years and old for each farmlet


  • When looking at the first calvers 3 week SR, overall they track really well above the target line. The Std farmlets both start off very slow before picking up around the 7th November. Near the end of the 3 weeks they all begin to flatten, and surprisingly the LI Kale, which was the best performing farmlet in the whole herd results, does not the hit target 1st calver 3 week SR.

Figure 4: 3 week submission rate for first calvers by farmlet


  • The 2nd calvers, commonly found on farms to be the animals in the herd most at risk from a reproductive performance, show to be tracking below target for the first 2/3rd of the 3 weeks. All 2nd calvers, except the LI Kale, end up below target. It will be interesting to look back on BCS results and calving dates to see where the 2nd calvers sat and whether these were contributing factors delaying cycling.

Figure: 3 week SR of 2nd calvers for each farmlet


  • We have passed peak milk production and the farmlets average milk production is slowly dropping down the graph. This is not helped by lower pasture quality and increased seed head and fibre in the grass. The LI FB milk production is showing a true reflection of their current on farm situation, with the longest grass week (and the most paddocks conserved in the second cut of baleage), being the lowest in quality and very low in protein.

Figure: Milk production for each farmlet


  • The remaining 45 un-weaned calves, including sale calves, will head to the support block in 10 days when they are weaned and next Friday all calves will be weighed.

Animal Health

  • We continue to have lameness issues on farm due to cows with soft feet. If picked up and treated early they are healing well and being returned to their mobs.
  • We have had one R2 death at the graziers due to injury.
  • Our suspicious mastitis cow’s Bacteriology cultures indicated that the drugs we are using are correct for the pathogens in the herd.

People Management and Visitors

  • We had our Fonterra Sustainable Advisor on farm this week to assemble our Teaki Environmental plan.
  • Vanessa Winning, DairyNZ General Manager for Farm Performance, joined us for our weekly farm drive and meeting.
  • Following the departure of Maricel, who has moved into full time employment, the tech team are on the hunt for someone to join our farmwalk team each Wednesday from 9 am till about 1.30 pm. This casual role requires a reasonable level of physical fitness as it involves walking either a third or half the farm using the rising plate meter to measure pasture height. Other casual work is also available from time to time when the team have a lot of additional animal measurements. If you think this is something you would be interested in please contact Anna Clement – anna.clement@dairynz.co.nz

Research on-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: