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

General Farm Information

Table 1: Key Numbers 4th October

Milking Platform average
Soil temp (C) 8.2
Rainfall (mm) 16.2
Av. Pasture Cover (kg DM/ha) 2235
Pasture Growth rate (kg DM/ha/day) 37
No. of cows milking 685
No. cows milking into the vat 612
Av. Kg MS/cow/day (from vat) 1.92
Average milk fat (%) 4.9
Average milk prot (%) 3.84
Average SCC (cells/ml) 95,000
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 18 - 18.5 kg DM total
Colostrum Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 14.5 kg DM pasture
Springer Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 10 kg total (pasture

Table 2: Animal Summary by farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Units
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Animal Summary
Milkers – TAD 164 149 160 139 cows
Colostrum/sick 15 8 10 12 cows
Staph 5 11 7 5
Springers & Dries 11 7 8 6 cows

Table 3: Feed Summary by farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Units
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Pasture Summary
Average pasture cover* (C-Dax and excluding springer paddocks) 2238 2311 2198 2193 kg DM
Growth Rate (c-dax) 37 41 32 36 kgDM/d
Rotation length last week 34 29 31 35
Target rotation length* (Excluding springer paddocks) 30 30 30 30 days
Target milker intake for this week 28th September - 5th October
Pasture 15.5 18 15.2 15.8 kg DM/cow
PKE:Barley Blend 2.5 kg DM/cow
Fodder beet 2.8 2.2 kg DM/cow
Baleage kg DM/cow
Total DMI 18 18 18 18 kg DM/cow

Key Decisions: this week

  • Hold the rotation length for all farm systems around 30 days. Std FB and LI Kale farmlets had a faster rotation length last week as the colostrum/peno and staph mobs grazed one paddock in each of these farms.
  • LI Kale herd has a pasture surplus so stop the in-shed feeding and target 18-18.5 kg DM intake with pasture only. Monitor residuals and if necessary step over a paddock for potential conservation if there is a period of fine weather
  • Continue with supplement feeding to the remaining 3 herds
    • In-shed feeding of PKE/barley to the Std Kale herd at 2.5 kg DM/cow/day
    • Up to 2.2 kg DM/cow/day lifted fodder beet to the LI FB herd depending on opening cover in each paddock
    • 2.8 kg DM/cow/day lifted fodder beet to the Std FB herd   

The use of supplement is required to achieve the targeted intake based on the stocking rate for each herd and the rotation length. Current opening covers are too low to meet cow demand from pasture only.

  • N applications will continue post grazing for Std FB and kale paddocks at a rate of 30kg N/ha. A poor performing LI FB paddock (44 days post grazing and still only at 2300 kg DM/ha) will also receive 25kg N/ha after grazing. The ryegrass between the urine/dung patches is struggling and the whole paddock has a yellow tinge.
  • Apply capital fertiliser to the paddocks with an Olsen P less than 20 at the recent soil tests.
  • Mating start dates have been finalised:
    • R1’s – 2nd November following a synchrony programme
    • Mixed age cows – 8th November

General Notes:

  • Although a potential surplus has been identified in the LI kale farm, the conditions are still too wet to make baleage so this will be managed by removing the in-shed supplementary feeding and grazing the colostrum mob on this farm for the next week.
  • Paddocks grazed by the calves are currently being excluded from the growth rate calculations each week. We are looking into the impact of this on the estimated growth rates as there is concern we may be under-predicting growth with this approach.
  • Pre-graze covers of 3000-3200 (herd dependent) are required to meet the target intake from pasture only on the current rotation length. Moving to a faster rotation will require some juggling with grazing due to the number of pasture paddocks per farm (19-21) and them all being approximately 2.9 ha. One day per paddock would put them all on too fast a rotation so we are going to have to get creative with day and night paddock grazings.
  • Calves are now being rotated around the farmlets in x4 mobs of 38-50 calves, grazing paddocks for 1-2 days. Once the calves have hit >60kg they are transitioned to once a day feeding of milk. They are currently eating <1kg high protein pellets/day.
  • The colostrum and staph cows are currently providing milk for these mobs with any additional being taken from the vat.
  • We have 10 heifers that haven’t settled well into the milking routine. These are currently running in the colostrum mob so the farm team can spend more time with them at milking.
  • An assessment has been done with the C-Dax this week comparing two different towing vehicles and 2 different machines. It has shown a considerable difference in the pasture estimates between the two different towing vehicles suggesting there is an intermittent issue with the power supply from the vehicle we are using. New leads have been ordered and we are awaiting feedback from C-Dax in Palmerston North on their interpretation of the information that was collected.   
  • The yards at the support block will be completed this week and ready for use with the R1’s at mating
  • 10 ha (x6 paddocks) of surplus pasture was cut for baleage at the support block this week
  • Currently developing the grazing/management plan for each of the 2019 crop paddocks coming out of pasture. To be completed before cultivation.
  • DairyNZ ran a Pasture Plus group on farm this week, which will flow nicely into our field day on Wednesday 10th Oct.

Animal Health

  • Cows below BCS 4 are milked OAD by utilising the electronic ID’s to identify them at the afternoon milking. The fortnightly BCS assessments are used to determine which animals move onto and off this regime. A OAD cow must score at 4.0 or greater for two consecutive BCS assessments i.e. over 4 weeks (BCS undertaken every fortnight) to move back to TAD milking.
  • A total of x10 cows were culled to the works this week (8 were dry cows following winter; 1 staph cow that had gone clinical and 1 heifer with behavioural issues).
  • One cow tested back positive for Johnes and was also culled

People Management

  • We are looking forward to our new 2IC starting next week.
  • The farm team are under pressure for the next 3 days with 2 of the farm assistants on leave attending a cultural event in Auckland.

Research on-farm

  • Measurements on the calves are continuing
  • Preparing for pre-mating measurements on the R1’s and monitor cows from each milking herd
  • Summarising data for the field days 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 guy.michaels@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link:

https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/research/research-farms/southern-dairy-hub/