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

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 7.4
Rainfall (mm) 0.4
Dry cow Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 12 kg DM pasture 10.6kg DM + 3kg DM
Springer allocation 10kg DM pasture
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 15.5kg DM
Milk Allocation 17kg DM 17kg DM
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 31 31 29 24
Springers 26 32 38 27
Colostrums 26 10 12 19
Milkers (total) 115 94 118 92
Milkers (OAD) 5 6 5 1
Milkers receiving inshed feeding 19 15

Key Decisions: this week

  • The table below shows the predicted area used by the Spring Rotation Planner compared with what we have used this season. The Std. FB farmlet has the smallest buffer between predicted and actual area used. The ‘spare’ area in the SRP is being used instead of adding supplement to the Std farmlets to achieve target intakes within the daily area allocation. The target line on the Std. FB herd is getting close to the top of the wedge. If supplement is required lifted fodder beet will be added to the diet. 

Table 3: SRP predicted area used vs. actual area used for farmlets

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
(kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow) (kg DM/cow)
Predicted area used 28.2 27.5 30.1 26.6
Actual area used 20 20.2 24 16.9
  • As we progress through calving our dry cow mob numbers have significantly reduced and are struggling to clean up residuals behind the milkers in a timely manner. Because of this and now that we are through the worst of the high mass paddocks we are expecting the milkers to be able to achieve more consistent and acceptable residuals (16-1800 kg DM/ha). We have returned milkers to paddocks a few times this week when there has been sufficient good quality pasture remaining for them to graze.
  • We are still allocating new pasture after each milking (12 hr breaks). To ensure paddocks are grazed evenly from the front to the back the first break will be larger as the cows will have the ability to graze back over this area as they move further down the paddock. We have to avoid the backs of the paddocks being undergrazed as this created issues for us last season when we didn’t get the allocation within the paddock even.     
  • To help everyone on the team assess the residuals we took a series of photos this week from a paddock that was being cleaned up by the dry cows

Figure 1: Photos for farm team so we can develop consistency in the assessment of post grazing residuals


  • We have found that some of the paddocks with significant lodging and clumps are not grazed down by the cows, instead the cows have chosen to graze harder between the clumps. Paddocks with too much dead base and ungrazed clumps will be strategically mown to try and reset the quality for milkers in the next round.

Figure 2: A thick mat of dead matter in the residual left post-grazing


  • After last week’s BCS results lighter cows (less than BCS 4) were drafted back into the colostrum mob where they are milked OAD. The kale cows are being offered PKE inshed at milking, starting at 1 kg DM/day and increasing 1.5kg DM/cow/day this week. The lighter FB cows do not receive supplement just the benefits of OAD milking to protect BCS loss.
  • This week the post crop paddocks will be deep ripped to facilitate drying.
  • Soil temperatures continue to increase each week. As part of the Hub decision rules, average weekly temperatures must be 7 oC and rising before N fertiliser can be applied. From the pasture wedges it has been decided that N fertiliser (in the form of Ammo) will be applied to all paddocks <2500kg DM/ha. These include all paddocks that have been grazed and a few that have yet to be grazed but look like they require an extra boost to kick start them.

General Notes:

  • Now that we have started to get on top of most of our high mass paddocks, i.e. 3500+kg DM/ha cover, we have done the final herd split into farmlets.
  • The kale dry mob continue to eat pasture around the farm and be used to clean up residuals whilst the FB dry mob are still making their way through the FB crop. A few of the dry FB animals are at 5.5 BCS and will need to be monitored to ensure there are no metabolic issues at calving.
  • As part of an AgResearch milk composition project we collected pasture samples from the paddocks the herds were grazing at the beginning of the week (results below).

Table 4: Pasture sample results

Paddock CP% DM% ME
15 16.7 24 11.6
34 16.3 19.7 12.2
  • The catch crop has still not been sown at the runoff block due to mechanical issues with the contractor’s tractor; hopefully they will be sown in the next week
  • Soil conditions have allowed us to apply effluent. Paddocks are selected based off:
    • Position in the wedge
    • Days since grazing
    • Days before grazing

The effluent being applied will be sampled and allow us to calculate the extra nutrients being applied to paddocks in the form of effluent.

  • The R1s have now all left to the grazier. We have held 2 back due to health related issues. 
  • X56 calves have been moved outside

Animal Health

  • Our peno mob has dwindled to only two this week. These two animals along with the lights are all in the colostrum mob so they can be closely monitored, reduce grazing another paddock and reduce having another mob on farm.
  • The second round of disbudding has been postponed due to an outbreak of Rotavirus. The calves are being treated with Rotagen and electrolytes and we are also keeping them separate and holding them in their current pens to prevent further spread.
  • The biggest challenge currently on farm has been difficult calvings and twins. To reduce this risk next season we are in discussions to cross our heifers with Jersey bulls to ensure easy calvings and therefore the longevity of heifers throughout their milking life.
  • Cows are currently receiving magnesium and selenium through the in-line dispenser


People Management and Visitors

  • We showed members of the newly appointed Wintering Taskforce around the Hub this week, explaining who and what the Hub is, research being undertaken, wintering practises we engage in and how we implement GMP.

Figure 3: Tim Driscoll (SDDT), Louise Cook (Business Hub Manager) and Charlie McGregor (Farm manager) engaging with members of the Wintering Taskforce this week on farm


  • DeLaval was on farm for 4 days this week. They worked through processes with the farm team, did maintenance checks on the shed including the recording technology, electronics etc.

Research on-farm

  • This week was a busy one for the research teams conducting research on site.
    • On Monday morning we had AgR collecting samples from a subset of cows in each herd to look at detailed milk composition.
    • One Monday and Tuesday we had AbacusBio and a Massey University PhD student collecting samples to allow us to assess whether winter crop type has any effect on the bone density of calves
    • Liveweight, stature and blood sampling is continuing on the replacement heifers
    • AgR are continuing to sample the drainage water from the ceramic cups under the crop paddocks to determine N leaching losses
  • This time of the year is particularly busy for the techs on site trying to keep track of mob tallies, cow movements, paddock grazings and all the other associated data that is being generated.

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: