2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 4th April 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 4th April 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 13.5
Rainfall (mm) 13.8
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 16.0
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.2 (- 0.13) 1.26 (+ 0.03)
Average milk fat (%) 5.67 (+ 0.23) 5.67 (+ 0.22)
Average milk prot (%) 4.43 (+ 0.13) 4.49 (+ 0.16)
Average SCC (cells/ml) 137 (- 6) 153 (- 9)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 161 149 147 129
Milkers – OAD 18 12 27 22
Other/Penos 4 1 3 5

Key Decisions: this week

  • Plated growth rates may have been underestimated this week due to a frost followed by a heavy dew and wet pastures when the farm walk was completed. These conditions result in the pasture compressing more during plate metering, reducing the measured height. The team noticed a bigger difference between the plate and visual estimates this week which we attribute to this. Estimated growth from visuals were in the 35-40 kg DM/day range.
  • Cows are being returned to paddocks occasionally to ensure residuals are hit and paddocks are cleaned up appropriately.
  • Due to the APC tracking above the feed wedge targets, no supplements will be fed this week. Residuals will be monitored through the week to see if baleage needs to be added to the Std. Kale farmlet, in particular the 48-hour grazed paddock.
  • The final application of N (25 kg N/ha) will be applied to 70% of the Std. farmlets early next week with the remaining 30% receiving application before Easter. Soil temperatures must be above 7 °C and we will not apply N after mid-April (as outlined in our decision rules).
  • Conserved paddocks were harvested this morning which included paddocks from LI kale (x1), Std FB (x2) and LI FB (x1).
  • It was hoped to send away all Std. Kale cull cows, however, due to the waiting lists for the works the culls remain on farm.
  • After feedback from the farmer reference group is was decided to place the baleage bales out into the crop before the start of winter grazing. This occurred using purchased bales this week.

Figure 1: Putting baleage out onto crop


General Notes:

  • Confirmed kale crop yields have come through this week ranging between 8.7-12.8 t DM/ha. When doing our winter feed budget, the potential kale yield gain between now and winter will be added to the current yield measured so that accurate feed requirements can be calculated. The support block FB yields were also measured to be 18.6 and 20.8 t DM/ha.


Table 3: Kale crop yields

Paddocks T DM/ha
47 12.8
57 11.6
65 8.4
103 11.2
5 9.6
7 10.2
8 8.7
9 11.7
Support block pdks
R1 9
R3 10
DM% 9-12%
  • Stinging nettle has covered some parts of the new grass paddock quite thickly. Advice will be sought as to how to eradicate it without impacting the young grass.
  • The process of putting the remaining cow collars started this week. This will enable more information to be collected and analysed for research.

Figure 2: Cow collars


  • Cows were BCS this week. The average BCS was 4.3-4.4 across all farmlets with a higher % of Std FB and LI FB having less than BCS 4. Decisions regarding these lighter cows will need to be made soon so that cows can reach BCS targets before calving.

Table 4: BCS of farmlets for the 3rd April

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
BCS 4.4 (+ 0.1) 4.4 4.3 (+ 0.1) 4.3 (- 0.1)
% less than BCS 4 3 (+ 1) 6 (+ 3) 8 8 (+ 5)

Body condition score information is particularly important at this time of year and decisions are made around when to dry off lighter animals and when to put cows onto once a day. The DairyNZ BCS calculator was used to start identifying staggered dry off dates to achieve target BCS. From this a graph is

also produced, as seen below. You can do the same for your herd by going to: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/body-condition-scoring/bcs-strategies/

Figure 3: Recommended BCS dry off dates to achieve BCS targets at calving

  • Grazing has been found for the R2s. They will be run as x3 mobs and fed on pasture and baleage.
  • Calves will be weighed next week and redrafted into their appropriate mobs.
  • Soil samples have been collected from the potential 2020 crop paddocks. Results will be used to finalise the selection and commence the correction of any nutrient imbalances before establishment next spring.

Animal Health

  • Lameness in the herd has become more prominent with the increased wet conditions. Some parts of the race close to the shed have become quite wet and small stones have been the main contributor to the lameness. The staff will be signed up to a healthy hoof course with the vets and a contractor will scrap the tracks close to the shed before the end of the season.
  • Vet came out and did x2 liver biopsies on cows from each farmlet. This information will be used to determine mineral supplementation for the herds prior to and during winter.
  • Next week the vet will be doing the Hub’s dry cow consult.

People Management and Visitors

  • The farm team will be attending the DairyNZ Smart Wintering day next week to understand good management practises for wintering on crop. You can register your team for these events too at: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/events/?region=5456&type=46378
  • The Hub is currently advertising for a General Farm Manager. You can read more about the role here: https://www.southerndairyhub.co.nz/jobs/farm-manager-2/
  • Becky, our longest serving casual has just been offered a full-time job with an agricultural company in Invercargill which is great for her but sad for us. We are now looking for someone to fill Becky’s shoes in the tech team at SDH. If you are interested or want more information, please contact Anna Clement anna.clement@dairynz.co.nz

Research on-farm

  • The research team are busy preparing for our end of season and pre winter measurements on the R1’s and R2’s on top of the ongoing activities in the farm systems comparison.
  • Crop yields are now being completed monthly so we can revise autumn and winter feed budgets and determine what supplementary feed and mineral supplements will be required through winter

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 ProposalsThe 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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link: