2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 5th June 2020

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

NOTE: The Spr on the feed wedges identifies our springer paddocks for next season. These paddocks will not be grazed again this season so by identifying them on the wedge we won’t accidentally include them in our grazing plan each week.

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 5th June 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 5.0
Rainfall (mm) 3.8
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Heifer & Light Mob 102 76 98 74
Cow Mob 101 95 105 96
Culls 9 (24%) 11 (38%) 10 (26%) 7 (28%)

Key Decisions: this week

  • With the variability in crop yields across most of the paddocks, but particularly the ones affected by flooding earlier in the year we discussed the process for ensuring all 10 mobs of animals are being consistently fed. Additional baleage will be added if required or if allocations are out for more than one day the break widths will be adjusted up or down by 10% based on observations of the herds and their residuals.
  • We are now far enough into all paddocks that back fences have been put up. These will be moved daily when the new break is opened up.
  • After observing the cows jostling for position around the P loose lick bin last week Charlie and the team have innovated with some pipe and created longer troughs that will sit along each side of the break to allow more animals access. Fingers crossed they work!

Figure 1: New troughs for P supplementation to fodder beet cows

 

  • We will continue with 70 g MgPO4/cow/day
  • DCP continues to be dusted onto the baleage at a rate of 50 g/cow/day to provide an alternative P source for those who miss out on the loose lick. 
  • Our focus for next week will be checking cows for any signs of mastitis or lameness. Cows have been through the shed this week for BCS assessment and we have picked up 22 cows with mastitis which is a bit disappointing given the good conditions when cows were dried off and the dry paddock conditions following dry off. Kale mastitis cows are in a grass paddock with baleage and fodder beet cows in the end of a fodder beet paddock with baleage so we can keep beet in the diet to allow easy transition back to their mobs once they are clear. 
  • Of the x37 cull cows still on farm we have just been advised that we have secured space for another x20 to go next Wednesday leaving us with 17 on farm.
  • Farm walks will be conducted every 2 weeks through June and July.

General Notes:

  • Transitioning onto crop has gone well this week with all kale mobs now at their full allocation of 11.3 kg DM kale/cow/day with 3 kg DM baleage/cow/day. We have adjusted the estimated yield of one kale paddock up to reduce the break size slightly as too much kale was being wasted. 
  • Fodder beet mobs will be at their full allocation of 9.5 kg DM FB/cow/day with 3.2 kg DM baleage/cow/day by the beginning of next week. 
  • Pasture walk numbers this week are a bit of a mystery with APC having dropped despite there being no cows grazing pasture. With recent frosts it is possible that any dead stemmy material that was still in the base of the pastures from summer has rotted down and therefore the pasture is compressing more under the plate. Visual observations suggest that growth has still be occurring although at a much lower rate.   
  • Crop yields will be measured at the beginning of next week. Our thoughts are that we have had good growth from the kale paddocks through May (bales have disappeared into the crop in the paddock on the driveway into the dairy!!!) but we are not so sure about the fodder beet. So far cow behaviour suggests that the yields being used for the daily allocations are about right based on residuals and feed available later in the day
  • The fodder beet calves have taken to the beet and their transitioning is on track. Kale calves have settled well into their crop paddock and are leaving appropriate residuals to ensure good liveweight gain. 

Animal Health

  • We have picked up 22 animals with mastitis, pulled them off crop and treated them this week.
  • The lameness we experienced through autumn is unfortunately continuing on crop with x5 animals being pulled out, assessed and then rested before they will be returned to their crop paddock. Lame fodder beet cows continue to get fodder beet while out of the main mobs.
  • The farm team are appreciative of the decision to get the P supplement supplied in 14 kg bags. These are easier to manage in the crop paddock and with half a bag required per day there is no need for weighing out the amounts required for each mob.
  • With the heavy frosts we are very cautious about when cows can be let onto crop. You can read more about the animal health risks associated with frosted crops here under nitrate poisoning: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/crops/animal-health-problems-on-feeding-brassicas/

People Management and Visitors

  • This week we welcomed Venura Gamage to the farm team. It is great to now have a full contingent in the farm and tech teams.
  • Things are slowly returning to normal on farm with service agents now coming onto farm and one of the SDRF Board visiting during the week.

Research on-farm

  • This week we did stature measurements on our 2017 born R3’s. This is the last measurement for this cohort of animals that we have been tracking since birth as part of the cumulative effects project.

Figure 2: R3’s waiting in the race for her measurements

 

  • The measurement calendar for winter is starting to looking pretty full with crop yields, regular BCS assessments, residual crop estimates as well as a few new things in the pipeline that hopefully we can tell you about soon.

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:

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

View SDH Weekly Summary 5 June 20

Please note: We will only be sending fortnightly updates for the next 8 weeks.