2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 6th December 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 6th December 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 15.2
Rainfall (mm) 9.8
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 18 18
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% milkers in Penos/OAD 1% 1% 2% 2%
% TAD Milkers 95% 95% 91% 93%
% OAD milkers 4% 4% 9% 5%

Key Decisions: this week

  • The LI FB and kale herds will remain on a 30-day rotation and baleage will be offered to fill any shortfalls in pasture. Covers suggest the LI FB herd will require up to 2.5 kg DM/cow/day and the LI Kale 1.5 kg DM/cow/day. With many of the paddocks in the grazing rotation this week being silage regrowth the available pasture may have been over-estimated. Residuals after the first grazing in the paddock will be used to determine how much silage will be required for the remaining grazings
  • The Std FB and kale herds will remain on a 20-day rotation with baleage being offered tactically based on the pasture remaining after the first grazing in the paddock.
  • We have opted to feed baleage rather than start inshed feeding as this allows us to be more tactical in its use to avoid substitution but ensure cows are not going hungry. From past experience it is easy to become complacent with in-shed feeding and not react quickly enough with pasture conditions change.  We debated the use of in-shed feeding for the kale herds because of its more consistent and higher quality but because the deficit appears to be short term (covers on the target line from mid wedge) we decided to follow our decision rule of feeding home grown supplement first
  • X7 Std FB and x9 Std Kale paddocks will receive their 3rd round N application early next week leaving only x1 Std Kale paddock still to receive N this round.
  • X5 LI FB and x5 LI kale paddocks will receive their 2nd round N application (15 kg N/ha) early next week
  • With AI finishing on Friday 13th and bulls being on the farm from then we will have a refresher on bull management and handling to ensure everyone on farm remains safe
  • The new grass paddocks will be assessed by our technical field rep ASAP and a plan made to control the redshank seedlings that are prevalent in all our new grass paddocks 

General Notes:

  • This week has been one of the most consistent all season for achieving targeted residuals based on the grazing plan i.e. without moving cows on or going back to clean up. This is most likely a result of us now being on top of pre-graze covers and the farm team being proactive with identifying when baleage ‘top-ups’ are required. 
  • We have observed that even some of our standard farmlet paddocks are showing signs of a N deficit with plants in the urine patches being more leafy and at a more advanced leaf stage than those between the patches.
  • The only crop paddocks remaining to be planted on the milking platform are the half paddock of direct drilled kale in the Std Kale farmlet and the demonstration strips of direct drilled kale within one of the fully cultivated paddocks
  • Crop paddocks on the support block are waiting on their fertiliser applications (scheduled for this week weather permitting) after which they will be planted
  • One 2019 crop paddock on the support block is still to be planted back in pasture after being too wet earlier on to get the cultivation completed
  • Our direct drilled grass to grass paddock in the Std FB farmlet has been sprayed and has died out so will be seeded as soon as weather allows and the contractor is available
  • We are struggling to hold milk production as the cows have come off peak (Figure 1). Cows are content in the paddock but milk production is decling. Pasture and baleage quality will be contributing to some of this decline despite our best attempts at keeping on top of seedhead. Many of our paddocks lack the density of more typical Southland pastures and are open in the base. This is likely resulting in the cows having to work harder for each mouthful of pasture compared to paddocks that are more uniform and denser.

Figure 1: Milk production for each farmlet

Animal Health

  • X36 cows have not been mated yet; blood samples were collected from 8 of these (x2 per farmlet) for Selenium analysis; a plan for managing these cows will be made once we have the results back
  • We have a handful of calves in the last weaning mob (still on meal) that are showing signs of photosensitisation. This is being monitored daily and treatment will be applied if necessary. 
  • The last mob of calves are being weighed today and will begin the weaning process. They will be transported to the support block early next week.
  • We continue to have lameness issues on farm due to cows with soft feet. If picked up and treated early they are healing well and being returned to their mobs.

Figure 2: Lameness statistics for each herd and primary diagnosis

People Management and Visitors

  • Louise Cook, SDH GM has been up in Wellington at the Dairy Environment Leaders forum this week so we will get her to give an update on the key messages from this next week

Research on-farm

  • The tech team have been busy getting all the blood samples boxed up and send off for analysis this week.
  • Next week is N intake week again and we are hoping for a more settle weather week as it involves lot of pre and post plating of paddocks and collecting pasture samples.
  • The NZPBRA cultivar evaluation trial that was sown a few weeks ago has struck

Figure 3: NZPBRA Ryegrass Cultivar Evaluation Trial


  • In an aligned project with the SDH farmlets we are seeking expressions of interest from farmers in the Three Rivers, Northern Southland, South/West Otago and Tairei/Milton areas who would be interested in being considered for one of our monitor farms (see details below)

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: