2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 31st October 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

NB: Second target line represents demand on a 100% pasture allocation (post balance date) on a 20-day rotation for Std herds and 25-day rotation for LI herds

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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 31st October 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 10.6
Rainfall (mm) 29.6
Milker Allocation 19kg DM pasture 19kg DM pasture
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% Calved (total herd) 100% 100% 100% 100%
% milkers in Colostrums/Penos/OAD 15% 13% 10% 7%
% TAD Milkers 85% 87% 90% 93%

Key Decisions: this week

  • We have been observing a lot of stem elongation in pre and post grazed paddocks but it is not consistent across the farm; elongated stem is still of good quality but we do not want the base residual to lift so will be focusing on mechanical residual management post grazing if required. Elongation in the pre-grazed paddocks is contributing to the high estimated pre-graze mass with the rising plate meter.
  • With good weather approaching and nitrogen on we are anticipating growth to continue to kick off. Maintaining pasture quality is of the highest importance especially as we get into mating and peak production where the demand for high energy feed is high. Our approach is to slowly change the Std. farmlets over the next week to a 20 day rotation and 24 hour grazing. The LI farmlets will hold their rotation at 30-32 days on 12 hour grazings so that they do not dirty their paddocks. Without the security of N applications to cover growth rate variation holding a longer rotation is our best option to minimise the risk of feed deficits.
  • With high residuals being left and increased growth we have decided to slowly drop out the supplement. The last of the lifted FB will be fed to the LI FB farmlet this week along with baleage as required. The baleage will offered in the 2nd and 3rd breaks in a paddock and fed based off residuals left in the first break. The Std. FB farmlet will go to a fully grass diet and inshed feeding will be removed from the Std. Kale farmlet over the next week. The LI Kale farmlet will continue to receive 2 kg DM/cow/day inshed and this will be decreased based off residuals left. Light conditioned kale cows being milked OAD will still receive 4kg DM inshed.
  • X9 paddocks at the bottom of the wedge, and not in the Ammo plan, from the Std. farmlets will receive Urea this week (round 2 paddocks). From last week it has been decided not to utilise the N fertiliser application scheduled for the LI farmlets post heading in December as we feel the spring growth will now kick in. With only 50 kg N/ha available for these farmlets we have to be strategic in when it is used.

General Notes:

  • The weather continued to be wet this week and we are looking forward to some warmer conditions over the weekend. Although conditions have been tough, grass growth was estimated between 70 and 85 kg DM/day with the plate (51-66 on visual mass estimates), however quality and utilisation has not been very good due to stem, weather, rain and mud. Cows have been making a mess in some paddocks and leaving higher residuals; these paddocks will be earmarked for supplement in the next round to maintain good milking quality pastures into late spring.
  • Average soil temp has increased from 9.8˚C to 10.6˚C this week.
  • High APC estimates are a continuation of what we saw last week as we see an increase in stem elongation due to ryegrass plants being under stress; the plate vs visual growth rate are closer in the kale herds than the fodder beet herds and these, along with APC, can be seen below. Paddock residuals and cow behaviour suggest the visual estimates are closer to what is in the paddock rather than the plate estimates. Calibration cuts have been taken this week to help refine our pasture estimates as the ryegrass plant approaches heading.

Table 3: Plate vs. visual APC and growth rate for farmlets

APC Plate GR Plate APC visual GR Visual Rotation (all area)
Pink 2634 71 2365 63 30
Blue 2465 70 2231 60 41
Green 2490 84 2285 66 32
Yellow 2546 75 2304 51 41
  • Friday will see the recording the cycling status of all cows in the herd ahead of mating starting. Heat detection aids will be applied for AI commencing on Saturday. Due to a number of staff with different levels of experience detecting heats, x2 forms of heat detection will be used: both pressure (tail paint) and visual (heat patch).
  • From our initial observations earlier in the week we noted that 48% of cows calved in the first 6 weeks (277/580) had not removed all their paint – though we kno wmany of these cows will have had silent or light heats, we’re being realistic and cautious about the reproductive status of the herd. The decision rules for using CIDR’s is outlined below. Out of the x56 potential CIDR cows x37 have been treated.

Non cycling cows of all ages with BCS 4.0 or lower as a group were:

  • assessed for OAD to address BCS issues instead of intervention (77 animals). 
  • included cows who had health issues and BCS issues, as well as just calved light, and or just light now. 
  • planned to be milked OAD in their milking herd unless lame, or BCS 3.5 cows where minimised walking is of value – these cows should be in lame mob.  We will also consider breaking trial protocol and using in-shed feed for Std FB/LI FB cows in this category (BCS 3.5 and needing to be in the lame mob) but only after completing a health check. 


Non cycling cows at BCS 4.5 or higher

  • allocated as a potential CIDR where they: (13 animals) 
    • Are aged 2,3 or 4 years 
    • Had not previously received a CIDR 
    • Had a contributory health event this spring 

Non cycling cows at BCS 4.0-4.5 with age 2,3 or 4 years with no other explanation for not cycling will be assessed for CIDR based on visual observation: (43 animals) 

    • Scruffy coat = CIDR to kickstart
    • Changed coat – leave.   


Balance of animals (143) in BCS 4.5 aged 5+ or all animals BCS above 4.5, left to cycle naturally. 

Table 4: Cows receiving a CIDR

Row Labels  Count of Animal Number
Pink 5%
Blue 6%
Green 6%
Yellow 6%
Grand Total 37 animals total
  • This week the Kale herds appear to be performing better in regards to milk production with the FB farmlets picking up near the end. The weekly average sat at: Std FB 1.97kg MS/cow, LI FB 1.84kg MS/cow, Std. Kale 2.06kg MS/cow and LI Kale 2.11kg MS/cow.

Figure 1: kg MS/cow/day comparison for farmlets


  • This week we weaned X43 calves at the runoff. They are doing well and eating lots of calf meal.
  • The team have done a great job getting onto the thistles around the farm and results are beginning to show.

Figure 2: Thistles beginning to die

Animal Health

  • OAD cows that are not lame or have animal health issues have been marked blue and returned to their herds. Further decision making around OAD and CIDRs can be seen above.
  • Mg and Limeflower dusting is continuing to all farm systems

People Management and Visitors

  • Our new Science Technician Holly started this week. We look forward to her joining the team and working alongside our other tech Caitlin.
  • This week was our Spring Hub Field day. Thank-you to all that attended, although the weather did not play ball we had some great discussions and hope you enjoyed the information shared and preliminary results. If you couldn’t make the day but are interested in viewing the handout you can find it here: https://www.southerndairyhub.co.nz/news-and-media/

Figure 3: Audience at the field day this week

Research on-farm

  • This week we had our first team meeting for the SFF Participatory Research project aligned with SDH.
    • The objective of the project is to increase adoption of leading-edge farm systems, delivering a lower environmental footprint and stronger rural communities for Southland and Otago, using a co-innovation and participatory research approach.
    • We plan to create a network of farms and communities delivering knowledge, data and on-farm experiences that demonstrate the relevance and adoptability of regional and national research for dairy farmers in Southland and Otago and for their support business.
    • The project will take an integrated environmental approach focusing on water quality outcomes while advancing farmer understanding of the impact of farm systems and mitigation options on greenhouse gas emissions.
    • One of the first activities for the project will be to identify farmers interesting in being considered as one of the monitor farms for the project and commencing the data collection and scenario modelling. If you are interested in understanding the environmental footprint of your farm and have some nutrient reduction mitigations you have implemented or are planning on implementing and are keen to be involved we would love to hear from you (dawn.dalley@dairynz.co.nz or 0274952239)

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: