2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 6th August 2020

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 5/08/2020 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 5 Aug 2020  Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
% % % %
Calved 8 5 8 8
Springers 32 33 31 36
Early/Mids 37 34 33 32
Lates 23 27 26 24

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 5/08/2020

Soil temp (C) 6.8
Rainfall (mm) 4
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Dry cows on crop 10 crop + 3 baleage 9 crop + 3 baleage
DCP 50 g/cow/d
Springers 5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d
5 pasture + 5 baleage
MgO 50 g/cow/d + DCP 50 g/cow/d
Colostrums 15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 50 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
15 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 50 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d

Key Decisions: this week

  • Yesterday (5th August) marked our official planned start of calving date; the cows must be a bit confused as 7% (x52) have already calved, with the average being 10 days before their estimated calving date.
  • We have been having some nice spring days that has allowed for good drying and helped keep cows above ground. You can also see in the image above the ground conditions of the springer paddock, which is much better than the week before when conditions were a bit wetter. The warmer days have also meant an increase in soil temperature and growth rates.
  • For the week our average growth rates from the plate meter ranged from 16-23kg DM/ha and average pasture covers between 2381 to 2442kg DM/ha. Growth is higher than expected but could be compensation for lower growth last week. The average for the last 2 weeks has been 10-15 kg DM/ha/d. Relative to last season APC is 2-300 less per hectare for all farmlets however this should result in better quality feed in the first rotation and better regrowth after grazing. 
  • As we begin to progress through calving we will soon have a milker mob moving around the farm. We have identified paddocks the milker mob will graze which includes a paddock from each farmlet. We are using the spring rotation planner to guide our area allocations; this week we are on 0.7ha/day per farmlet which needs to be shared between springers, colostrums and milkers on each farmlet.
  • Due to lower FB yields this year we were going to be short of FB to be fed later in spring. To ensure we achieve the objectives of the systems comparison we have decided to purchase some lifted FB of which we will feed in September/October. Initially the FB mobs will be offered baleage, as required to meet the feed budget, before transitioning onto FB in September. Lactation supplement for the Kale mob is in-shed supplementation, as required, plus pasture baleage to top up to the target daily DM allocation.

General Notes:

  • The last few days we have been averaging around x6 calves per day and expect this to ramp up since we have now officially surpassed planned start of calving. Below you can see the arrival of twin bull calves, both were calves of good size and the cow was looking great considering she just gave birth to twins! Judging by their identical white marks some might even say they were identical twins but mirror images!

Figure 1: A very well-conditioned cow cleaning up her two twin bull calves

  • Utilisation of crops is going well due to better ground conditions. Cows are cleaning up paddocks to a good residual, especially the FB. There is one area of a FB paddock at the support block which has sealed over and created a small pond post-grazing, however, by fencing it off and preventing the young stock from wandering back we have managed to keep them in the drier part of the paddock and prevent any unnecessary damage. Below is a picture of the young stock on kale and FB. You can see that they are looking great and doing a good job with their crop grazing.
  • Our next BCS will be next week but the most recent BCS reported back last week showed that the Std FB and LI kale were sitting at BCS 5.2, and the Std Kale and LI FB at average BCS 5.1. We were hoping for less of a lighter tail end in each mob but this has not been achieved. It was noted by the techs doing the assessment last week that a high proportion of the cows scored as a 4.5 were closer to 5 but did not have sufficient cover to round up.
  • So far we have about x10 heifer replacements on farm. Our new calf rearer is doing a great job and we are making sure to use or freeze every last drop of gold colostrum to ensure they get the best start and we don’t run out.
  • The young stock had their blood samples taken last week to assess mineral levels. When they finish crop mid-August they will have all their stature measurements taken.

Animal Health

Figure 2: Figure: Kale (left) and fodder beet (right) young stock


  • Although we have 7% of the herd calved already, we have been lucky to have no major animal health concerns. So far we have had only had one assisted calving, which was due to the calf having a twisted knuckle that was stuck.
  • So far we have had only had one cow requiring metabolic treatment and we hope this is a good sign for calving since we have been so vigilant with our mineral and dusting program. You can see our allocated amounts in table 2 further up.

People Management and Visitors

  • Thursday 6th August was farm worker appreciation day (6th August) so hopefully you all took the time to say thanks to your staff. We try look after our staff on farm by keeping communication open, ensuring they are well fuelled over the busy periods like calving, and shouting the occasional lunch, even if that does include a hot Fat Bastard pie on a cold Southland day.
  • A shout out and thanks to the Southern Dairy Hub farm and tech teams for all your hard work!!!

Research on-farm

  • On the research front we are finalising all the data collected during the winter period and have had to hire a metal detector to try and locate the behaviour devices that we lost in the mud during the behaviour study.
  • We are still doing crop yields and quality for the animals still on farm and will start with the monthly pasture sampling later in August.
  • We are also in the final planning stage for an experiment continuing to look at the impact of kale and fodder beet feeding in late pregnancy on the calves at birth through to puberty. 

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: