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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 6th February 2020

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 13.8
Rainfall (mm) 65
Milker Dry Matter Allocation 17 17
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Number milkers in Penos 2 3 4 1
% TAD Milkers 90% 84% 73% 82%
% OAD milkers 15% 16% 27% 18%

Key Decisions: this week

  • Like most of Southland/South Otago we have had an interesting week with heavy rain and flooding. If you have been severely impacted by the recent flooding you can go onto the DairyNZ website for flood management information or contact your local DairyNZ Consulting Officer: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/business/adverse-events/flood/
  • As things got progressively worse with flooding on farm we changed our grazing plan and moved cows away from low terrace paddocks and up to higher land. The support block has been severely flooded forcing us to walk the calves up the road to the milking platform. We will reassess receding waters to determine when they can be returned. Two crop paddocks and a new grass paddock are also under water at the support block.
  • With the pressure of rising flood water and wet conditions we adopted the following plan to minimize stress on animals and staff:
    • Shift calves from support block to milking platform
    • Shift cows to high, dry paddocks on the upper terrace with ample feed and water
    • Contact grazier to check on our young stock and the situation they are in
    • Once the above was completed we decided not to milk the cows (Wednesday afternoon) and sent all staff not living on farm home. We were aware that river levels were rising quickly and roads were going to be closed so thought it was best to send staff home while conditions were still safe to do so and everything on farm was under control.
  • Despite all the rain we have had we have noticed that our paddocks are still hard under foot which presents less risk of pugging damage. The surface flooding on the support block has receded relatively quickly so lower terrace paddocks at or near pre-grazing target cover will be assessed early next week and a decision made on suitability for grazing. 
  • The Std. Kale therefore remain on 1kg inshed/cow/day after leaving lower than target residuals in a couple of paddocks this week.
  • The Std. FB will continue to receive baleage as required until pre-graze pasture covers reach demand in all paddocks. If required baleage is offered following the first grazing in the paddock to maintain a 30-35 day rotation length.  Std FB received 1 ½ bales of baleage last week.
  • Nitrogen fertilizer planned to be applied to Std paddocks on Wednesday has been postponed till next Tuesday due to ground conditions and paddock access. With good moisture, N and some warmth grass growth should respond positively.

Figure 1, 2 & 3: Flooding on the milking platform over the race and the back of the FB paddock early on Wednesday and the new grass paddock at the support block late Wednesday


  • For those with significant crop damage following the flooding below is some advice from Brian Young PGGW Seeds based on experiences from the Taireri floods last season:
  • Don’t rush into re-sowing
  • Some pastures and crops will recover ok and will generate a better yield than a full ‘tidy’ replacement
  • If re-sowing new grass avoid cheaper short-term fixes – give the ground extra time to fully dry out before re-sowing then use a good permanent mix. Most quick fixes needed replacing earlier than initially anticipated
  • If replacing a ‘clean-crop’ crop you need to use another ‘clean-crop’ option
  • Check with your spray contractor or seed specialist before re-sowing anything
  • Club root is easily transported via flood waters – so if you are re-sowing and you suspect there is club root in the area then turnips are a better option than Rape etc and a yield of up to 8t/ha is still possible
  • There is a 2-week window NOW to re-sow with turnips – after that you need to look at options like green feed cereals, annual ryegrass etc
  • Crops under water for just 2-3 days should be ok – longer than that may need replacing – give them time just observe and get advice
  • Its ok to replace a fodder beet crop with a brassica – chemicals should not cause any issues – but check with your agronomist

General Notes:

  • The LI FB cows were struggling with pasture quality issues last week but over the last few days have been entering lower pre-grazing paddocks of higher quality and milk production has responded positively. They have also been more consistent in achieving good post grazing residuals

Figure 3: kg MS/cow/day farmlet comparison


  • We have checked in with our grazier and our R2s are doing well and out of any potential flood water danger. Our next round of scanning for the heifers is on the 11th Feb. R2’s will receive a copper bolus and long acting selenium injection at the same time as scanning. 
  • Calf weighing has been booked for next Thursday but will depend on flooding at the support block and whether the calves have returned there.
  • Building off our BCS strategy to ensure cows reach their targets of BCS 5.0 for MA cows at calving we have started feeding PKE to early calving BCS 3.5 FB cows in addition to OAD milking. The kale farmlet high priority animals have been receiving additional PKE:barley blend alongside OAD milking for most of the season.  We are using liveweight, BCS camera and visual BCS assessments to track the response of these animals to change in management and will adjust management as required. There are a group of BCS 4 animals that are under observation and if required will drop onto the OAD and preferential feeding regime as well. 
  • The LI Kale (-0.2) and LI FB (-0.1) have both dropped their average BCS in the last 2 weeks so that we now have x3 herds at 4.1 average and x1 at 4.2.
  • The Std FB herd has the highest proportion of cows less than BCS 4 at 19%, followed by 12% of the LI Kale and FB herds and 7% of the Std Kale herd.

Figure 4: BCS farmlet comparison

Animal Health

  • We have found a few split liners this week so will be replacing all rubberware on Friday and investigating with our suppliers why these have perished so soon. Over the past few weeks we have had an increase in mastitis and feel this may be one of the contributing factors.
  • We had one cow with mastitis in multiple quarters that was sent for pet food and another culled due to on-going lameness

People Management and Visitors

  • We are super proud of our farm team this week with the added stress of flooding. They all worked really well together to get the job done and make sure all stock were well cared for and safe and staff got home safe.
  • Next week we will be at the Southern Field Days. Come over to the DairyNZ site in the Waimumu shed and have a chat with our team including Louise Cook and Dawn Dalley
  • We are excited to announce that we will be hosting the DairyNZ Farmers Forum on the 3rd of March. The day is about:
    • Understanding what is driving change in the dairy sector and how to respond
    • Get updated on regional and national policy development and how to have an influence
    • Hear about the latest science happening in your region and what solutions you can use on your farm
    • Get an overview on how DairyNZ is prioritizing its efforts to best protect your future and of course hear about what has been happening at the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • With guest speakers such as Cameron Bagrle (Economist), Nadia Lim (MasterChef winner) and Tim Mackle (DairyNZ CEO) plus more. You can register here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/event-activity/farmers-forum/
  • The SDH Research Advisory Committee are looking for a Southland farmer to join our group. You will be working alongside some very talented people from DairyNZ, AgResearch, Fonterra and another farmer rep.
    • The RAC is responsible for reviewing all research applications for SDH and making recommendations to the SDRF board on which proposals fit with the goals and vision for the Southern Dairy Hub.
    • The RAC will also make recommendations on the strategic direction of research on the site. If you have an interest in research and would like to contribute to developing solutions for southern dairy farmers and can commit to up to four 2-3 hour (skype and face to face) meetings per annum we would love to hear from you.
    • In the first instance email SDDT Chair Tim Driscoll with your expression of interest and a short CV: driscolldairy@gmail.com

Research on-farm

  • Due to the wet weather and significant alterations to our initial grazing plan our N intake assessments have been cancelled for this month. We will collect pasture samples for quality analysis but will estimate intake by back calculating from milk yield.
  • This week we started the annual assessment of the clover content of every paddock on the farm. This involves taking a pasture sample prior to grazing and separating it into clover, ryegrass, other grasses, weed and dead material.

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: