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

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 28/07/2020

DATE: 28 Jul 2020  Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
% % % %
Calved 0 1 2 2
Springers 30 28 28 32
Early/Mids 48 44 42 42
Lates 22 27 26 24

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 28/07/2020

Soil temp (C) 4.5
Rainfall (mm) 46 (last 2 weeks)
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Dry cows on crop 10 crop + 3 baleage 9 crop + 3 baleage
P Looselick – 70 g/cow/d
Springers 5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d
5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d + DCP 50 g/cow/d
Colostrums 15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 50 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 50 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d

Key Decisions: this week

  • Just like that we are at the end of July and already have x10 calves on the ground which is a bit earlier than planned calving dates of the 5th August for the R2’s and the 8th August for the cows! The calves are of reasonable size and calving the R2s is much easier this year with jersey calves.

Figure 1: R2 heifer with her Jersey calf


  • It has been wet under foot on farm and the springers have been making a mess of their paddocks which means, unlike last year, we will most likely not be grazing them again before they go into crop. It has also been hard to minimise pugging damage created by the colostrum mob.
  • Each day the colostrum mob gets a fresh break of pasture dusted with Mg, DCP and limeflour.
  • We are struggling to get the required amount of gold colostrum from the cows that have calved so far as first milking volume have been low, especially in the fodder beet cows; hopefully this increases as more cows calve.
  • With calving started we have consolidated cows on crop to 6 mobs (x3 kale and x3 fodder beet) plus the 2 calf mobs, and have x2 springer mobs and a colostrum/milker mob. As the milking mob gets bigger it will be split into kale and FB mobs, and then once these mobs are big enough they will be further split again into standard and lower impact (LI).
  • With springer and colostrum mobs we are back to grazing pasture on the milking platform and weekly pasture walks. The average pasture cover this week ranged from 2291 to 2443 kg DM/ha (visual) and 2233 to 2371kg DM/ha (plated) which is 400-500 kg DM/ha lower than this time last season however we did experience a lot of growth through winter last year to bring covers up. Our target was to be at around 2400kg DM/ha average pasture cover so we are a little bit below this target.
  • Pasture quality looks ok but obviously we have the normal frost damage issues and trying to manage residuals of first round pastures with varying sized mobs will be a challenge. Paddocks where the colostrum mob has not hit residual will be tidied up by the late dries once they have finished on crop.
  • The springers have had to have their round slowed down as they were going through their paddocks too fast.
  • Looking forward we are still finalising the spring feed budget, pasture usage, and spring rotation planners for each farmlet.
  • The young stock are on track to finish their crop at the support block by 14th August and then we need to decide whether we can plant some post crop paddocks into catch-crop. We are currently looking into the best method and which paddocks would be the most suited.

General Notes:

  • We have been monitoring feed quality and crop yields throughout the winter period. From the last measurements the data was as follows
Average yield t DM/ha %DM ME MJ/kg DM Crude protein (%) Ca Mg P
Kale 13.0 11.5 12.5 16.0 1.28 0.18 0.33
Fodder beet 17.1
Leaf 4.6 9.8 11.6 18.0 0.87 0.49 0.27
Bulb 12.5 16.9 13.5 8.8 0.13 0.14 0.16
Baleage 37.7 8.5 12.4 0.67 0.19 0.28
  • From the BCS results last week the Std FB and LI kale are sitting at BCS 5.2, and the Std Kale and LIFB at average BCS 5.1. We were hoping for less of a lighter tail end in each mob but this has not been achieved. We will continue to monitor BCS fortnightly with the next assessment in a fortnight. It was noted by the techs doing the assessment last week that a high proportion of the cows scored as a 4.5 were closer to 5 but did not have sufficient cover to round up.

Figure 2: Percentage of each herd at each BCS


  • BCS have plateaux in the last week (Figure 3)

Figure 3: Herd average BCS from the De Laval camera


  • We have modified our calf trailer to include a foam mat so that it is less slippery and more comfortable for transporting calves

Figure 2: The new calf trailer puller, mineral duster, crop line maker


  • Young stock had blood samples taken this week to assess mineral levels. When they finish crop mid-August they will have all their stature measurements taken.

Animal Health

  • We have noticed that some cows that have calved significantly earlier than their due date have had retained membranes. We are monitoring these closely so that we can get the vet out if they do not self-cure in sufficient time.
  • We still continue to have lameness issues but the number of cases have declined.
  • All minerals and dusting is underway to dries, springer and colostrum mobs

People Management and Visitors

  • Last Thursday we had the farmer reference group meeting where we discussed:
    • our winter cropping rotation and options to move away from cropping on the higher risk soils on the lower terrace
    • rotation lengths for the LI farmlets to drive better quality pastures and manage residuals better
    • maximising pasture growth on the farm within the constraints of the farm systems parameters.

These FRG discussions are really valuable to ensure we continue to provide robust and relevant information for Southern dairy farmers.

Research on-farm

  • As cows come in we have been removing their cow manager ear tags that were inserted as part of the behaviour trial. The ear tags along with leg monitoring devices were applied to measure lying, standing, ruminating and eating time plus walking distance and length of lying bouts. To understand the impact of soil conditions on cow behaviour every day the tech team made a series of measurements to describe the soil conditions in the area the cows have available to them for that 24 hour period. Weather information was also recorded daily. During their late afternoon check of the cows the farm staff also recorded how much baleage and crop were left. Back fences were shifted every day and all groups have the same square metres of area between the front and back fences. 

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: