2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 29th November 2018

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

We have been getting a lot of feedback about our feed wedges and concern about the residuals and APC that are being reported. All our pasture mass estimates are done with the rising plate meter but we also do a visual assessment of all paddocks at the same time.  While the standard equation on the plate meter is predicting residuals of up to 1900, the visual estimates are in the 1600-1700 range and the lower mass is being supported by the calibration cuts we are doing. In the post graze paddocks the plate is being held up by the hardening off in the ryegrass stem and stem elongation. In general the APC calculated using the visual estimates is approx. 200 kg DM lower than the plate estimate. If you want to find out more about our measurement processes and quality control have a look at the opportunity outlined in the research section of the notes below.

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 29th November 2018

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 15.5
Rainfall (mm) 0
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 18
Av. Kg MS/cow/day (##incl staph cows) 1.7 1.6
Average milk fat (%) 4.76 4.8
Average milk prot (%) 3.87 3.81
Average SCC (cells/ml) 136 115
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 170 142 169 128
Milkers – OAD 15 13 9 18
Other/Penos 4 4 3 7
Staph 3 13 9 9

Key Decisions: this week

  • With recent warm and wet conditions, pasture quality has become an issue, particularly on the LI farmlets. We were too conservative in our surplus management a couple of weeks ago and now a high proportion of the paddocks, particularly in the LI FB farmlet have gone reproductive. While we identified small surpluses we were concerned around not having N fertiliser to boost growth rates if the weather turned cold and wet and we were growing below demand. Because of this we took a more conservative approach and stayed on a longer rotation.  The quality looks better in the std farmlets with more vegetative pastures although seedhead is now emerging across the whole farm. In hind sight, a more aggressive approach to pasture conservation, and faster round (though hard due to farmlet setup and paddock sizes) could have prevented the current drop in MS production due to loss in pasture quality.
  • In the table below is the pasture quality data from two weeks ago. The crude protein is generally low especially when compared to the DairyNZ facts and figures value of 18-35% for spring (p.65 DairyNZ facts and figures). The lower crude protein and the DM% (being on the higher end of the scale) indicate that the quality had already started to drop off as the pastures matured and began to produce seed.

Table 3: Quality data from 2 weeks ago

Average of DM% Average of CP_NIR Average of ME_NIR
Std Kale 17.3 16.3 12.0
LI Kale 19.2 13.2 11.9
Std FB 17.0 17.6 12.2
LI FB 17.7 16.6 12.3
DairyNZ facts & figures values (spring) 12-18 18-35 11-12.5
  • New grass paddocks passed the ‘pluck test’ this week indicating that they are ready for their first grazing. There are quite a few weeds appearing, including dock, redshank and spurrey. The decision has been made to plate the paddocks, lightly graze, then apply 25kg N/ha across all farmlet new grass. Following grazing the paddocks will be reassessed to determine if they need to be topped to knock the weeds or whether a spray is required. With spraying, consideration would need to be taken of withholding periods and the potential to suppress growth of other pasture species such as clover. For more information on the ‘pluck test’ and managing new grass, go to https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/pasture-renewal/managing-new-pasture/
  • N fertiliser will be applied to LI farmlet paddocks that have been harvested for surplus at a rate of 20kg N/ha.
  • More area has been shut up this week for surplus and this is added to the paddocks identified last week which have still not been harvested. There are now x2 paddocks for each farmlet, but x3 paddocks for LI FB farmlet. The table below gives a summary of what area has been topped and made into or currently shut for baleage this season so far. The std farmlets have a higher proportion of the farm that has been conserved or topped.

Table 4: Area conserved and topped season to date

Topped Baleage done Baleage Shut Total ha % of farm
Pink 11.6 11.6 5.8 29 50
Blue 17 0 5.8 22.8 40
Green 15.3 8.6 5.8 29.7 49
Yellow 8.7 2.9 8.7 20.3 37

General Notes:

  • Muck spreaders were out this week to spread the solids from the weeping wall. It was not applied to the forage value index (FVI) paddocks as we needed to treat all these the same. Special consideration was taken for the saturated soils to minimise any risk of faecal contamination into the waterways should another heavy rainfall event occur post effluent application. Paddocks close to waterways did not receive these solids.

Figure 1: Muck spreader out spreading effluent this week

  • 3-week submission rate results are in Table 5 below. All farmlets except the LI FB herd exceeded the 90% 3-week submission rate target. The LI FB herd missed this target by 1.5%. All the cows identified as non-cyclers prior to PSM have been mated.

Table 5: 3 week Submission rates (%) from 8th November to 28th November

Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
3-week submission rate % 91 95 91 88
Target 3-week submission rate % 90%
Planned start of mating 8th November
  • All winter crops are sown and have received necessary sprays.
  • Calves will be weighed this week and we are predicting that they will all be ready for weaning.
  • A visit was made out to the R2s at the graziers this week; they are looking in great condition.

Figure 2: R2s out at the grazier

Animal Health

  • Herd testing occurred this week which will allowed identification of x30 cows >200,000 SCC cows for bacto analysis. The samples are then sent to Hamilton so that we can further understand the extent of the Staph aureus issue in the herd.
  • Calves that were showing signs of photosensitivity are clearing up and now back outside with their mobs.
  • Bloods were taken from a sample of cows this week and sent away for trace element testing.

People Management

  • Farm manager resignation

We are sorry to report that our current farm manager Shane has accepted an opportunity to take on a farm management role on a large property on the West Coast starting in the New Year.

We are sorry to lose Shane but understand his interest in this opportunity and wish him all the very best. We would like to take the opportunity to thank Shane for his help and input into this next stage of the SDH programme which has been very valuable to us.

We are currently looking at options to support the current 2ic Charlie as interim manager and are confident SDH is in capable hands well supported by a great farm team.

We plan to start advertising for a new manager next week with applications closing mid-January, watch this space.

Research on-farm

  • Have you been looking at our pasture wedges each week and wondering how we come up with our values? The Hub would like to invite you (and your plate meter) to attend our farm walk, the first Thursday of every month, 10am (sharp) to 11.30am (1 ½ hours). Come along to plate and visually assess paddocks, discuss the values, and compare to what you are seeing and measuring on your farm.

Registering your interest is essential by contacting DairyNZ Hub Consulting Officer Nicole E. Hammond at nicole.e.hammond@dairynz.co.nz or Ph: 021 240 8529 (texts are welcomed by stating name and event you are attending).

Meet at the cowshed 611 Ryal Bush Wallacetown Road parking in the spare carpark adjacent to the bin, please sign in and out when leaving and consider SDH biosecurity requirements which require clean clothing and boots. If you have recently returned from overseas please check our policy below for access and if you are visiting from a property with a confirmed biosecurity incident such as M. bovis please let us know before arrival.


Biosecurity is an important obligation for all visitors, please follow all instructions for the protection of SDH as a business and for protection of the research investments in place.

  • All visitors that come on farm must have clean clothing along with clean covered in footwear 
  • Any visitor that has been on a property with a confirmed biosecurity incident must get permission to enter from either the farm or business manager.
  • All visitors on farm must move through the biosecurity area at the shed. Footwear to be cleaned if need be with the scrubbing brush supplied then disinfected in the footbath. Non-waterproof footwear is to be disinfected via the walk-through sponge mat.
  • No visitor access, under any circumstances from anyone within 5 days of their arrival in New Zealand from Central or South America, or any part of Asia. Further restrictions may be applied at any time dependent upon country of origin and international disease status.      
  • All visitor vehicles are to remain in the parking area and may not travel over the farm without permission of the tour leader or farm manager.      

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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: