2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 29th April 2021

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

NB: Hatched bars are 2021 springer paddocks.

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 29/4/2021 – number of cows in each mob

DATE: 29 Apr 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 160 136 159 137 592
Sick/penos 8 7 7 2 24
Dries 6 4 3 1 14
Autumn culls 28 19 30 20 97

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 29/4/2021

Soil temp (C) 12.0
Rainfall (mm) 31.2
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 14.0 kg DM pasture
Inshed feeding = 3 kg DM/cow/day equivalent
14.0 kg DM pasture
Inshed feeding = 3 kg DM/cow/day equivalent
15.0 kg DM pasture
2 kg DM fodder beet plus
15.0 kg DM pasture
2 kg DM fodder beet plus

Key Decisions: this week

  • Rotation length to be held at 32-35 days for all farmlets with supplementary feed to meet demand.
  • Inshed feeding to kale farmlets increased to 3 kg DM/cow/day and baleage will be offered as required.
  • Fodder beet feeding to Std and LI FB farmlets will be held at 2 kg DM to minimise the risk to any animals returning to the main herd from the peno mob. Currently this is all the supplement that is required for these herds due to slightly higher APC than the kale farmlets.
  • A total of 24 cows have been identified for drying off on Sunday. Numbers for each herd and reasons for drying off are summarised in the table below. Pasture allocation will be decreased for 5 days with the bulk of the diet being baleage.

Table 3: Numbers of cows for drying off this weekend and reason

BCS Low milk production Lameness
Std Kale 11 2 -
LI Kale 4 2 -
Std FB 1 - 2
LI FB 1 2 -
  • We are planning for another group of animals to be dried off around the 10th May based on current BCS.
  • It is now time for the final culls to leave the farm to reduce grazing pressure and need for supplementary feeding. These will go as soon as space can be secured.
  • A pregnancy screen was done on the herd test this week to identify any new empty cows so that culls can be finalised.
  • We are going to graze the top out of a couple of our springer paddocks as at current growth rates they will be too long by spring.

General Notes:

  • Average pasture cover has continued to decline for all farmlets due to growth rates below demand. We are still on track with our autumn feed budgets; we had anticipated a drop in growth this week and planned for increased supplementary feeding and drying more cows off. We have got this far in the season feeding less supplement so are happy with where the feed situation is currently sitting.

Figure 1: Autumn feed budget tracking against the plan


  • Transitioning onto fodder beet has gone to plan using a time-based approach. We are now up to 40 minutes on the crop (estimated DM intake of 2 kg/cow) and are close to having the paddocks opened up enough with all the old bulb consumed so we can start allocating beet on a kg DM/cow/day basis. Cows are either being held in a recently grazed pasture paddock close to the beet paddock or in an eaten out area of the beet paddock before all going onto the crop together.

Figure 2: LI FB cows in their first fodder beet break in paddock 1


  • Milk production has varied a lot for the LI FB herd this week. They did not like one of the new grass paddocks they were grazing and were found standing at the gate waiting to be moved even though there was lots of fresh feed available. We had hoped that their production would stabilise more with the introduction of fodder beet and feeding some baleage as well.

Figure 3: kg MS/cow/day from farmlet comparison


  • Milksolids production per ha/day for the two standard farmlets have converged in the last week with the Std FB out producing the Std Kale for the first time since late December!

Figure 4: Weekly average milksolids production for each farmlet (kg MS/cow/day)


  • All herds are tracking ahead in season to date milk production and the Std kale and LI FB herds have exceeded their full season production per hectare last year with the Std FB and LI kale herds not far off.

Figure 5: Cumulative MS/ha for this season compared with 2019-20


  • Due to ongoing issues with cows grazing the new grass paddocks i.e. unsettled and drop in milk production despite good pre-graze covers, we have done some additional pasture analysis on a couple of them (Table 4). In general, these paddocks are lower in DM%, fibre (NDF), and macro minerals (P, Ca, Mg & Na) and higher in crude protein and potassium. Above 4% potassium has a negative impact on mineral absorption.

Table 4: Pasture quality for old pastures and new grass plus pasture and oat baleage.

  • The catch crop oat baleage made in late spring is low in crude protein and has good ME. It will be used during dry off to decrease the protein intake of the animals to help with udder involution.
  • Calves at the support block are getting baleage as required to top up their diet since the PKE was finished.
  • Soil temperature is on the decline, now sitting just above 10 C.

Figure 6: Cumulative rainfall and average weekly soil temperature and rainfall


  • Pasture growth rate for April was similar for the LI farmlets compared with last year but lower for the Std farmlets by approximately 10 kg DM/ha/day.

Figure 7: Average monthly pasture growth rate compared to the 2019-20 season

Animal Health

  • We have had a few more cases of mastitis this week spread across all the herds
  • A high proportion of cows in the peno mob are lames, some of which had preventative hoof trimming and are now a bit tender.
  • Next week is a big week with drenching and minerals to the R1’s and R2’s. At the same time statures will be taken from the R2’s.

Figure 8: Girth measurements on the R3’s as part of the cumulative effects project

People Management and Visitors

  • Fonterra were on site this week for our Cared for Cows consult.
  • We have an SIT student, Sharon, doing a project with us as part of the crop establishment demonstration. Last week Sharon and Natalie, the consultant overseeing the farmer component of the project, were on site going through methods so we have consistency across the farms involved.

Research on-farm

  • A summary of SDH research was presented to farmers attending the DairyNZ Farmers Forum this week. Below is a quick snapshot of some of the key results.

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: