2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 30th January 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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 30th January 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 18.5
Rainfall (mm) 7.4
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 17 17
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Number milkers in Penos 0 10 6 2
% TAD Milkers 85% 85% 73% 82%
% OAD milkers 15% 15% 27% 18%

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week we are in a more comfortable feed position but are mindful that this can easily change.
  • We have not achieved the targeted 33-day rotation on the LI FB (43 days) and LI Kale (48 days) farmlets as residuals were not achieved during the planned grazing period so cows were sent back to clean up. As a result we have stepped over 2 paddocks in both LI farmlets for conservation. We have chosen paddocks that the cows did not achieve residual at the last grazing or require weed management.
  • We have had to mow a few paddocks to reset residuals rather than forcing the cows  to graze the poor quality and seed head that is still emerging.
  • In shed supplement to the Std. kale has been dropped from 2kg to 1kg DM/cow/day as residuals were creeping up. The feeling is they are now generally sitting in a good position and no alteration is required to their round length or supplements this week.
  • Baleage will be fed strategically to the Std FB herd in the 3rd grazing in the paddock if required. They started last week with baleage to meet demand as we pushed out the rotation length, however as pre-graze mass rose the amount was reduced.
  • Building off our BCS strategy to ensure cows reach their targets of BCS 5.0 for MA cows at calving we have started feeding PKE to early calving BCS 3.5 FB cows in addition to OAD milking. The kale farmlet high priority animals have already been receiving additional PKE:barley blend alongside OAD milking.

General Notes:

  • Crops are really beginning to come away as we reach canopy closure. In some paddocks we have noticed red shank and thistles appearing so will consult our agronomist to determine if spraying is required.
  • Kale paddocks on the lower terrace closest to the river have taken a real hammering from the neighboring ducks. Louise has gone all out on duck control this week setting up fake flying hawks and an air gun. This seems to have done the trick and hopefully our crops can catchup and grow bigger before the duck’s cotton on.

Figure 1: All measures are being used to try and protect our crops from the ducks!!


  • The bulls left the platform and headed to the works this week.
  • We have continued to assess our BCS strategy and determine gains that need to be made by individual cows. We have assumed that on kale cows will gain 0.25 BCS/2 months and 0.5 BCS/2 months on FB, and no BCS gain 30 days out from calving for the kale cows and 15 days for the FB cows. From this we have identified:
  • Cows that need to gain, from now, 0.25 BCS or more/month until June. These cows are all on OAD and receiving inshed feeding of 4.4kg wet weight.
  • Cows that need to gain 0.15 – 0.25 BCS/month OR have a BCS of 3.5 and are a calving in the first 6 weeks are all on OAD and receiving in-shed feeding at 2.2.kg wet weight/day. 
  • Milk production has remained static but the LI FB farmlet are producing the least as the cows battle to eat through their pasture and continue to be faced with quality issues. Despite all farmlets having the same pasture cultivar mixes and paddocks in all blocks of the farm the LI FB herd have struggled all season to consistently achieve the same residuals as the other farmlets and produce at the same level. 

Figure 2: kg MS/cow production comparison for each farmlet


  • Calves were weighed last week and are currently averaging 119 kg with an average daily growth of 0.4kg/day. There were approximately x6 calves that had negative growth but this is most likely attributed to our recent bout of coccidiosis. Calves have been split into x2 mobs based off liveweight. PKE, baleage and grass are being fed and the smaller mob is finishing off the last of the meal We are targeting up to 2kg of PKE per day and baleage as required.

Animal Health

  • This week we had a series of mastitis cases all in the same quarter which caused concern. On further inspection we found a twisted liner which was completely cut off and have since fixed it and educated staff on how it can occur, what to do to prevent it and the regular checks that are required. 
  • We had x1 chronic lame cow which has been treated by the vet.  
  • We blood sampled 4 cows per herd to check the mineral status. Mg and Se are all ok. We plan to collect liver samples from cull cows once the 2nd scan is completed. 
  • Our next round of scanning for the heifers is on the 11th Feb
  • R2’s will receive a copper bolus and long acting selenium injection at the same time as scanning
  • X1 calf was euthanized this week after exhibiting rapid weight loss despite treatment for coccidiosis and secondary infection.

People Management and Visitors

  • We are super excited to announce some internal promotions within the farm team at SDH. Billy has accepted his new role as 2IC and Bakura will step into a herd manager role. They have worked really well this season, developing news skills and responsibilities on farm.
  • This week we had a Research Strategy Workshop at the Hub. Together with the invited farmers and farmer reference group we discussed and brainstormed the future direction of research at SDH – what are the priorities for research at SDH from 2022. It was a valuable meeting and we would like to thank all those that took time out of their day to attend. Opportunity for others to have input will be provided at our stand at the Waimumu field days and at the Farmers Forum on the 3rd March.
  • We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the DairyNZ Farmers Forum on the 3rd of March. The day is about:
    • Understanding what is driving change in the dairy sector and how to respond
    • Get updated on regional and national policy development and how to have an influence
    • Hear about the latest science happening in your region and what solutions you can use on your farm
    • Get an overview on how DairyNZ is prioritizing its efforts to best protect your future and of course hear about what has been happening at the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • With guest speakers such as Cameron Bagrie (Economist), Nadia Lim (MasterChef winner) and Tim Mackle (DairyNZ CEO) plus more. You can register here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/event-activity/farmers-forum/
  • The SDH Research Advisory Committee are looking for a Southland farmer to join our group. You will be working alongside some very talented people from DairyNZ, AgResearch, Fonterra and another farmer rep.
    • The RAC is responsible for reviewing all research applications for SDH and making recommendations to the SDRF board on which proposals fit with the goals and vision for the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • The RAC will also make recommendations on the strategic direction of research on the site. If you have an interest in research and would like to contribute to developing solutions for southern dairy farmers and can commit to up to four 2-3 hour (skype and face to face) meetings per annum we would love to hear from you.
    • In the first instance email SDDT Chair Tim Driscoll with your expression of interest and a short CV: driscolldairy@gmail.com

Research on-farm

  • Sampling has commenced on all pasture paddocks to determine the proportion of clover. As paddocks enter the grazing plan a representative pasture sample will be collected and split into ryegrass, other grasses, clover, weeds and dead material.
  • The team are currently working hard to get on top of all the data that has been collected and ensure it is all in a form that makes it easier to analyse at the end of the season.
  • The NFVT trial will have its first harvest and grazing next week. This will get it into sync with the grazing of the rest of the paddock to streamline future management.

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: