2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 4th January 2021

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 4/2/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 4th Feb 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current being milked 195 162 193 162 712
Milking TAD into vat 169 140 138 137 581
Milking OAD into vat 23 20 47 21 118
Sick/penos 3 2 8 4 20

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 4/2/2021

Soil temp (C) 17.2
Rainfall (mm) 8
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 15.8 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 1.2 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16.2 kg DM pasture
Priority in-shed feed for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 8 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16.1 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 0.9 kg DM 
all cows in herd
16.3 kg DM pasture
Priority PKE for light cows = 4 kg DM equiv 0.7 kg DM 
all cows in herd

Key Decisions: this week

  • There were tractors on farm this week cutting for baleage. Overall x12 pdks were cut and with good drying conditions should make good quality milking cow baleage.
  • With growth still above demand on the Std farmlets x2 Std FB and x1 Std Kale pdks have been stepped over for conservation.
  • All paddocks are in the grazing rotation for the LI Kale farmlet that look to be a bit tight. Their pre- and post-graze mass will be closely monitored and inshed feeding started to all cows if required.
  • With x3 pdks topped for the LI FB herd in the last week we are reasonably confident they have enough pasture ahead of them.
  • Topping residuals indicate we have not been getting the pre-graze mass right or grazing time right in a few pdks this week hence the decision to drop out more paddocks for conservation and get cows going into slightly lower pre-graze masses.
  • We applied 25 kg N fertiliser/ha to all new grass paddocks this week ahead of the resumption of N fertiliser to Std paddocks in mid-February if soil moisture conditions allow and LI final application in March. A couple of paddocks from each of the Std farmlets were also identified for a N top up as they missed an application earlier in the season.
  • Unfortunately, we have had to delay grazing of a paddock in the LIFB  wedge due to it recently having effluent applied. To keep with good management practises and prevention of animal health issues (not to mention cows don’t like it) it is best practise to wait 10 days. As part of our on-farm policy we will only target recently grazed, or paddocks sitting in the mid to low end of the feed wedge. To read more about effluent GMP you can view here: Managing and operating effluent systems – DairyNZ
  • The weeds in the direct drilled and strip tilled areas of pdk 102 fodder beet will be sprayed as soon as conditions allow
  • Following the assessment of fodder beet pdk 49 by the agronomy and spray technical field reps three factors were identified that could be impacting growth in this paddock:
    • compaction of soil, as indicated by the main tap root bending
    • the weather being hot then cold, hot then cold and the plants not getting a good chance to grow to its potential
    • the crop is also showing signs of Rhizoctonia, it is there but not significant

The decision has been made to spray for fungicide and include some essential nutrients to give the crop every chance of growing

Figure 1: Pdk 49 fodder beet showing areas that are struggling

Figure 2: The poor areas and good areas in pdk 49

General Notes:

  • The herd was BCS this week and there has been a 0.1-0.2 decrease in average BCS for al herds. The kale farmlets averaged BCS 4, whilst the FB farmlets averaged 3.9. It was noted when scoring, that there has been an increase in cows that are just under BCS 4, but due to how the scoring works if the cow is not a true 4 then she is given a BCS 3.5. Irrespective of the scoring rules, the results indicate all herds are losing condition which is not what we want at this time of year.

Figure 3: BCS distribution for each herd from this weeks assessment

Figure 4: Herd average BCS for the season


  • The BCS difference between farmlets most likely reflects the different management strategies. In the kale system we utilise the inshed feeding for priority feeding of light BCS animals whereas in the fodder beet system OAD milking is their first option as supplementary feeding in their systems is based on Fodder beet and baleage. We are going to look into our priority feeding as there has been some glitches with inshed feeding and will also redraft cows onto OAD and priority inshed feeding.
  • The half direct drilled kale paddock finally received a spray this week after the contactor accidentally sprayed the conventional kale side of the paddock by accident a few weeks back. We hope that the spray works due to the height and density of the current weed burden.
  • If you didn’t read last weeks notes, we have received the results back for the milk samples taken last week to check pregnancy status on a group of borderline cows identified following the 5 week pregnancy scan. This has identified an additional 26 cows in calf. Through a combination of scans and milk data our current best estimate of 6 week in calf rate is Std Kale 76.9%, LI Kale 76.2%, Std FB 69.4%, LI FB 72.6%. Accumulated in-calf rate is summarised below:

Figure 5: Accumulated in-calf rate


  • Milk production has dropped for all herds this week (Figure 6) despite what appears to be sufficient pasture on offer.
  • An interesting observation this week was the difference in behaviour between the LI Kale and Std FB herds. The LI Kale were put back into a break to clean up and there was more than enough good pasture for them, however they all bellowed and moved to the break fence when someone walked through the paddock. In contrast the Std FB cows were finishing off their break and were just about down to residual when they were viewed and they all happily continued grazing. We are not sure what is driving the differences but even during winter the fodder beet cows were less likely to kick up a fuss if the allocation wasn’t quite right while the kale cows pretty quickly indicated they were not happy.

Figure 6: Weekly average kg MS/cow season to date

Figure 7: Milk production (kg MS/cow/day) comparison for each farmlet


  • Ducks continue to plague our crop paddocks but with canopy closure in most areas hopefully they will move somewhere else!!!

Animal Health

  • We appear to be on top of the mastitis outbreak that started a few weeks ago. A twisted liner may have contributed to the higher incidence of front right cases.
  • We continue to have lame cows, especially in the Std. FB herd. An interesting observation from the farm team is that this herd is the only one that doesn’t voluntarily walk to the dairy  when put onto the laneway for milking and don’t head back to the paddock after milking so they have to be herded more on the laneways. Lameness management is an ongoing process through inline mineral supplementation, hoof management, cow flow management and use of copper sulphate mats at the dairy.

People Management and Visitors

  • Our SDH field day has been booked in for the 10th March so don’t forget to book it into your calendar!
  • Bakura has started his Level 3 Animal Health and Husbandry course and Venny is about to start his Level 5 along with completing a Level 4 effluent module.
  • The farm team are continuing on the implementation of LEAN management principles again to ensure the correct procedures are followed and efficiencies maximised on farm. You can read more about LEAN management and FarmTune here: FarmTune® – DairyNZ

Research on-farm

  • As part of her masters degree Nicole S. Hammond has had cows out grazing her FVIV trial plot this week.

Figure7: Cows grazing trial plots


  • The technical team have been undertaking botanical composition measurements on all paddocks to assess the proportion of clover in each farmlet. For the last 2 seasons we have observed significantly more clover in the LI farmlets receiving 50 kg N/ha/annum compared with the Std farmlets receiving approximately 200 kg N/ha/annum so it will be interesting to see if the trend continues this season.
  • Monthly N intake measurements are scheduled for next week

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: