2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 3rd October 2019

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 3rd October 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 8.2
Rainfall (mm) 21.8
Dry cow Intake Target (kg DM/cow) Boxed with springers Boxed with springers
Springer allocation 3.5kg DM pasture + 6.5 kg DM baleage
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 16kg DM pasture
Milk Allocation 19kg DM 19kg DM
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% Springers (total herd) 7% 6% 6% 13%
% Calved (total herd) 93% 94% 94% 87%
% milkers in Colostrums/Penos/OAD 11% 7% 6% 3%
% TAD Milkers (total) 89% 93% 94% 97%

Key Decisions: this week

  • The weather this week has meant that balance date has been pushed out further, resulting in a longer pasture deficit on farm than initially predicted in our SRP. Actions we have been implementing at the Hub manage feed supply through to balance date include:
    • Holding our round length around 32-35 days? to build cover ahead of the cows. Grass grows grass so this allows us to graze at the optimal 2.5-3 leaf regrowth stage.
    • Feeding supplements to fill deficits and using extra baleage to keep cows feeling full and warm.
    • Using weekly pasture walks and monitoring feed wedges to track our position and update our spring feed budgets.
    • Using nitrogen fertiliser
    • Targeting residuals and earmarking paddocks that may have been left a bit high for next round or returning to clean up.
    • OAD milking lighter cows so that they can perform their best at mating.
    • If weather gets really bad there is also always an option to semi stand cows off on springer paddocks that will be going into crop to prevent damaging paddocks across the farm.
  • This week there has been a variation in residuals left due to the impact of bad weather. Wet conditions have made reducing pugging and feeding cows well a priority resulting in mixed outcomes. To prepare for the bad weather baleage was offered to all mobs, however in hindsight, the LI FB feed wedge indicated more pasture available therefore less silage should have been offered. As a result some paddocks have higher, clumpy residuals. These residuals will need to be dealt with next round.
  • This week cows will go no quicker than at 33-day rotation (1 ½ days/paddock) and will be sent back to clean up paddocks if required and conditions allow.
  • The Std. Kale farmlet has the biggest pasture deficit due to the dry cows cleaning up old residuals in paddocks and grazing to residuals of 1500kg DM/ha in a lot of first round paddocks and eating into potential regrowth.
  • We have decided to keep a little bit of baleage in the diet this week to buffer any reductions in utilisation due to poor weather.
  • The Kale farmlets will be offered 3kg DM/cow/day inshed feeding and the Std. FB farmlets offered 2kg/cow/day FB (Table 3). Due to colostrums still coming across to the FB milking herds, FB allocation will not be increased beyond 2kg/cow/day in order to minimise the risk of acidosis in these new cows entering the milking herds.

Table 3: Supplements offered to farmlets this week (kg DM/cow/day)

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
(kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow)
Pasture available
(kg DM/cow/day)
13 15 16 15.5
PKE inshed
(kg DM/cow/day @ 88%DM)
3 3
Baleage 2.5 (1 bale/break) 1 (1 bale/pdk) 0.8(1 bale/pdk) 1(1 bale/pdk)
Fodder beet
(kg DM/cow/day @ 14% DM)
2 2

General Notes:

  • Growth rates have increased slightly from 15-25kg DM/ha to 36-43kg DM/ha this week with the FB farmlets having slightly higher growth rates than the kale. The graph below shows the APC for each farmlet and the lower pasture available in the Std. Kale farmlet remembering it is stocked at 3.1 cows per ha compared with 2.6 on the LI kale and LI FB.

Figure 1: APC across each farmlet


  • Although the weather has been challenging, it has been good to see that the milk production has continued to increase, with all farmlets having achieved 2kg MS/cow/day

Figure 2: kg MS/cow/day farmlet comparison


  • The FB dry matter tests have come back. The FB just sold measured at 23% – this was beet that was lifted on the 19th August.  The recently lifted bulb measured at 14% DM. We had been using the conservative estimate of 16% DM for the FB being fed out as supplement, so a new calculation was made to offer them the correct amount equivalent to 2kg DM/cow/day.
  • The remaining Kale paddocks have been ploughed and most Fodderbeet crop paddocks have had rippers through in preparation for the next crop of transition back to pasture
  • Due to wet conditions fertiliser was applied with helicopter last week. This was applied to 101 ha of the farm at 30kg N/ha (95kg Ammo 31) for Std. farmlets and 20kg N/ha (65kg Ammo 31) for LI farmlets.
  • As expected the last leg of calving always has a tendency to drag on. There are now no dry mobs on farm and x61 springers left to calve (59% FB and 41% Kale). The springers are being offered ad lib baleage and some grass and are regrazing our first springer paddocks.
  • Pre-mating heats are being monitored with mating start date planned for the 2nd Nov.

Animal Health

  • With the recent wet weather Mag dusting to the milking herds has also been less effective than usual, and one colostrum and one milking cow went down with milk fever and neither cow was able to be recovered.
  • Another batch of calves have been dehorned this week.
  • We have introduced DCP at 50 g/cow/day to the LI FB and Std FB herds just to ensure their P levels are being maintained now that we have moved into second round pasture and are feeding fodder beet. This will be dusted with the MgO and limeflour which we have been providing since the start of calving. With the unsettled weather in recent weeks and the grazing of lifted FB paddocks it has been more challenging to ensure the dries were receiving adequate P supplement so we decided to extend the period of supplementation beyond the springers and colostrums.
  • Liver biopsies were taken from all herds this week – 2x R2 and 2x mixed aged cows were sampled from each herd. Because the herds are under different feeding and supplementation management it is important that we look at the variation within and between herds.


People Management and Visitors

  • This week was the week for AGMs with both the SDDT and SDRF AGMs being held on site. These AGMs provided an opportunity for the on farm team join the two boards for lunch. 

Research on-farm

  • A couple of quieter weeks has allowed the research team to take a few days off after a busy 8 weeks with calf measurements and all the other weekly activities. It is a short reprieve before a busy week of nitrogen intake and partitioning measurements on the milking herds and pre-mating blood and stature measurements on the R1’s out at grazing.

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: