2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 6th December 2018

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 6th December 2018

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 17.9
Rainfall (mm) 25.2
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 18
Av. Kg MS/cow/day (##incl staph cows) 1.6 1.6
Average milk fat (%) 4.68 4.78
Average milk prot (%) 3.77 3.82
Average SCC (cells/ml) 136 91
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 169 140 163 125
Milkers – OAD 9 14 15 20
Other/Penos 6 4 0 7
Staph 8 14 11 10

Key Decisions: this week

  • New grass paddocks were grazed this week and have now been added to the grazing rotation. The addition of new paddocks will allow more flexibility to reduce the rotation length if required. The new grass paddocks first had to pass the ‘pluck test’, followed by plating and a light graze. Post grazing the paddocks will be topped, followed by an application of 25kg N/ha. They will then be assessed over the next week to determine whether a spray is required or if the grass will grow and surpass the weeds. 
  • N fertiliser will be applied to LI farmlet paddocks that have been harvested for surplus at a rate of 20kg N/ha.
  • More area has been shut up this week for surplus in the Std. farmlets; x3 Std. kale and x3 Std. FB paddocks. These paddocks will be earmarked for good quality baleage suitable for milking supplement later in the season. The total number of bales made this week was 223 and can be seen broken into their farmlets below. Supplement was also made at the support block (number of bales unknown at this stage).

Table 3: Number of bales of baleage made on each farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Bales made 18 65 47 93

General Notes:

  • It has been a wet couple of days on farm and some flooding has occurred due to nearby waterways on both the dairy platform and support block overflowing. During these wet times it is great to get out on farm and identify future paddocks not suited to cropping due to low-lying areas, critical source areas and flooding waterways. You can read more on crop paddock selection at: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/media/5786508/wintering-on-crops-in-the-south-island.pdf

Figure 1: Flooding in one of the back paddocks of the farm

  • Cows were BCS this week. Body condition scoring the cows is a great way to monitor their progress through the season and implement key management decisions. The Hub uses BCS <4.0 as a decision tool to put cows onto OAD and determine when they can go back to TAD milking. The % of cows OAD per farmlet can be seen, along with their BCS, in the table below. Kale farmlet cows below BCS 4.0 receive 2kg PKE:Barley mix/cow/day inshed and are milked OAD. Fodder beet farmlet cows are just milked OAD as in shed feeding is not part of their system. Cows have to have 2 consecutive BCS assessments at 4 or above before they are put back onto TAD milking.   

Table 4: Percentage of OAD cows and average BCS split by farmlet

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
BCS 4.4 4.4 4.5 4.5
% less than BCS 4 4% 4% 6% 5%
% of herd on OAD 5% 8% 8% 12%
  • The last of the calves were weaned and sent to the support block this week; this gives a total of 191 calves. They will undergo weighing and drenching next week.
  • Bolters have appeared in some paddocks previously cropped in fodder beet, in-particular fodder beet paddocks that were lifted at the end of last season. Fodder beet bolters appear due to leftover bulbs or the remains of partly chipped bulbs from the previous season. They can be identified by their long stems and once they appear above the canopy of the new crop, it is imperative that they are pulled before seed head development. Once a bolter gets to the stage of seed drop and germination, the performance and yield of the new crop can be highly compromised.
  • FB paddocks will receive a spray this week. FB seedlings can be seen in the image below and are growing nicely due to last weeks humid conditions.

Figure 2: FB paddock


Animal Health

  • Herd testing occurred this week which identified 38 cows with >500,000 SCC cows. Samples were taken for bacto analysis so that we can further understand the extent of the Staph aureus issue in the herd.
  • With the feeding of new grass this week, the amount of bloat oil through the dosatron was increased.
  • Results from blood samples taken from x4 random farmlet cows (x1 cow from each farmlet) have come back.
    • The target Mg level from the blood samples taken should sit above 0.9 mmol/kg; one of the 4 cows was a little low, however this is not of great concern.
    • Selenium levels were great, all in the target range of between 800-1500 nmol/l.
    • Serum cooper results were below the optimal value of 15 umol/L; although no immediate action required, it was recommended to do some liver biopsies after mating. The results from the x4 cows can be seen in the table below:

Table 5: Mineral report summary for x4 farmlet cows

Target level Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
SSE (NMOL/L) 900 869 955 1138 1158
SCU (UMOL/L) 15 6 7 10 8
MG (MMOL/L) 0.9 0.91 1.07 0.56 0.97

People Management

  • Jack Hooper from LIC brought a group of LIC senior managers to the hub this week. This was an opportunity for the team to explain the purpose of the hub and objectives of the farm systems comparison. It was also an opportunity for us to convey our thoughts on the information, technology, cow and system requirements for the future.

Research on-farm

  • This week milk and feed samples were taken for a national trial Fonterra are conducting to better understand the impact of different feeding regimes on the FEI. This process has been made easier now that they kale and fodder beet herds are being milked into separate vats. A combined am & pm milking sample was taken from each vat prior to collection between Monday and Wednesday, and feed samples were taken from Monday’s paddocks pre-grazing. These samples will be taken monthly and coincide with herd testing.
  • Next week the Sci-tech team will take a series of measurements to estimate N intake across the 4 herds. This will involve plating all the paddocks pre and post grazing and taking feed samples for nutritive value analysis.

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: