2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 30th September 2021

Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

NB: Hatched paddocks are springer paddocks

Grey – – – – – – –  target line is for 30 day rotation with 18.5 kg DM pasture intake and no supplements

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 23/09/2021 – number of cows in each mob

DATE: 22 Sep 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Cows on Farm 201 165 190 165 721
Current being milked 191 156 184 154 685
Springers 10 9 7 11 37
Slips/empty/deaths 2 3 12 3 20

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 30th September 2021

Soil temp (C) 10.6
Rainfall (mm) 27.8 mm
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 18-19 kg DM 4.5 kg inshed + 4.5 kg baleage 18-19 kg DM 4 kg inshed + 2.5 kg baleage 18-19 kg DM
(3.5 kg FB + 1.5 kg PKE and baleage as required)
17-17.5 kg DM
(3.5 kg FB + 1.5 kg PKE and baleage as required)
Colostrum 15-16kg DM
(11-12 kg DM pasture + 1.5 kg inshed + 3 kg baleage)
Springers 4-5 kg pasture & 5-6 kg baleage

Key Decisions: this week

  • It’s mental health week this week and we know this is more applicable than ever with the challenges we have been facing on farm especially those in coastal and central Southland. A prolonged wet spring and slow growth has meant pressure on staff and animals as we try to ensure cows are fully fed and pasture damage is kept to a minimum. If you are currently struggling please get in contact with your local DairyNZ representative to organise an on farm visit https://www.dairynz.co.nz/contact-us/regional-teams/?region=southlandsouth-otago or the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP); we are here to help.
  • It has been another wet week on farm with 28mm of rain, pasture covers dropping, feed utilisation challenging and overall pressure on staff wellbeing and cow health. In the interest of preserving BCS and feeding the cows as best as we can with current feed resources, we have decided to put all the herds onto 10n7 milkings for a period of approximately 3 weeks until pasture cover and weather improves allowing us to look forward into the future and match feed supply and demand. 
  • All alternative milking frequencies were considered i.e. full OAD, 3 in 2 and more traditional 10n7 however we have settled on a modified 10 milkings in 7 days with cows being milked TAD at 5 am and 2.15 pm Mon, Wed and Fri, OAD on Tues and Thu at 10 am and OAD Sat at 10 am and Sun at 7 am
  • With different milking intervals and inshed feeding requirements we now have a milking management chart to help with the implementation of the plan (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Milking Management Chart

Figure 1: Milking Management Chart

  • We will hold the current rotation length of approx. 30 days as speeding up now increases the risk of being in an even bigger hole in 3 weeks time if growth continue to be erratic. To do this we will require additional supplement. 
  • To ensure consistency of pasture allocation with different periods of time between milking we have had to expand the grazing plan template. Below is half of the grazing plan outlining the plan for the Std kale and fodder beet herds for the next week. 

Figure 2: Grazing plan for the Std kale and FB herds for this week

  • FB has finished being lifted and we have already sold 90t wet weight. We will increase our FB allocation from 2.5 to 3.5kg/cow/day as it is the best source of ME supplement available and has better utilisation than what we have been getting from baleage. We were surprised to see the large amount of FB remaining in the paddock post lifting and will talk with our agronomist around the impacts of leaving it there and planting into pasture.

Figure 3: harvesting the last of the fodder beet for our Std and LI FB herds

  • Once conditions improve on farm we will need to consider stitching pastures as the density of the pastures has decreased due to pugging damage and will impact on season pasture production. 
  • As an extra source of feed we will revisit some springer paddocks with the milkers to nip off regrowth. A decision around what to do with these paddocks, what crops to plant etc. will be discussed this week at the Farmer Reference Group. We have decided to continue the minimum tillage of the direct drilled kale crop paddocks as we put them back into pasture so we do not undo the good work, this will include no ploughing, and instead aeration and surface working only).  
  • For the FB cultivation trial we discuss options with the FRG about the best way to put back into pasture and whether this will be a blanket approach or vary for conventional vs. minimum tillage.
  • We continue to follow cows on the Std farmlet with N fertiliser applied via helicopter. Conditions are too wet for truck applications but with soil temperature at 10.6oC this meets the conditions for application and pasture response. 

Figure 4: N fertiliser being applied by helicopter

General Notes:

  • The grazing strategy in the first rotation of splitting paddocks up the middle and grazing each side separately when the herds were smaller has helped minimise pasture damage and the block grazing is still evident in the paddocks. It is by no means a silver bullet though and damage is still quite extensive across the farm which will take some time to recover.
  • We have managed to source 80 bales of milking quality baleage which will be a good buffer going forward with the uncertainty around how long the current conditions last for. 
  • We are pleased that our APC is higher than our original feed budget as at 1900 APC there would be a lot more supplement required to meet demand under the current conditions. This season has highlighted that while it is good to get the farm chewed out in the first rotation there needs to be contingency plans for when pasture growth does not kick off in the spring. We will definitely be taking this years learnings into planning for next spring.

Figure 5: Average pasture cover for all farmlets this week

  • Our milk graphs have been a bit wobbly and obviously changing to OAD impacted consistency across the graphs earlier in this period. Production has begun to stabilise with TAD but from the graph below the Std. FB took a drop between 27th/28th September.

Figure 6: Average daily MS/cow for each farmlet

Figure 7: Season to date production comparison for all the herds

Figure 8: Cumulative milk solids production relative to last season

  • Although the weather has been unfavourable weather we have still been observing strong cycles in the cows with heavy heats. We will start recording pre-mating heats from the 9th October.
  • We visited our R2s this week and they are looking good. We gave them a Se jab and Cu bolus.
  • The 45 calves sent to the support block have adjusted well and are enjoying their tent shelter. We lay down some straw to reduce mud in the tent. Overall calves are looking good and we are on top of the rotavirus that appears each season. We will weigh the next lot of calves tomorrow.
  • It can be tiring during this period, especially with being one staff member down, but we are now at a stage where staff are able to get a sleep-in.
  • The milking shed has been serviced and hopefully this will have addressed the mastitis that keeps occurring in the back right quarter of cows. 


Animal Health

  • X5 culls were sent away this week (x4 Std FB and x1 LI FB) for varying reasons such as x3 heifers drying themselves off, bad attitude etc.
  • We continue to supplement cows with minerals including Mg Oxide, limeflour and DCP.
  • Our next round of metrichecking will be booked into for the 9th November. Last time we had 8/9 cows from each herd that were metricured. 
  • Some cows have been scratching and loosing hair so we are investigating options to treat for lice. 


SDH Research & Demonstration

  • Today we removed the behaviour devices we have had on cows since the beginning of June. It will take us a few months to extract all the data and get it summarised but it will be good to see what lying behaviour has done while the cows were on crop and also for the first part of lactation. 
  • With all the rain we have been having the team have been busy collecting leachate from the Plant and Food catch crop lysimeter study on farm

Figure 9: Leachate sampling from the Plant & Food lysimeters

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: