2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 6th January 2021

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

*If you are struggling to view the tables and wedges you can download the pdf here

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 6/1/2021 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 6th Jan 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Current Herd Numbers 196 162 193 162 713
Milking TAD into vat 164 136 154 141 594
Milking OAD into vat 29 26 38 19 112
Sick/penos 4 0 1 2 7

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 6/1/2021

Soil temp (C) 17.6
Rainfall (mm) 57.6 (since 19th December)
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 17.5 kg pasture + 0.5 kg DM inshed feeding 17.5 kg DM pasture + 0.5 kg DM inshed 17 kg DM pasture 18 kg DM pasture

Key Decisions: this week

  • With good rainfall and warm soil temperatures average pasture cover has continued to lift resulting in paddocks being skipped for conservation. We have identified 3x Std Kale, 1x LI Kale, 3x Std FB and 2x LI FB paddocks for mowing.
  • X1 pdk for both the Std and LI FB herds targeted for baleage will be sprayed 3 days before mowing as they are earmarked for grass to grass regrassing after the baleage is taken off. Both these paddocks have poor pasture species but are unsuitable for winter cropping.
  • Inshed feeding has been reduced steadily over the last week following the removal of silage just after Christmas. Kale cows will continue to get 0.5 kg DM/cow on average but the majority of this is priority feeding to low BCS cows.
  • Low BCS cows determined from the BCS assessment yesterday will go onto priority management. For kale cows any just below 4 will remain on TAD milking but will receive priority feeding; BCS 3.5 cows will get priority feeding plus OAD milking. OAD milking is the first course of action for the FB cows and only very light cows will receive inshed feeding.
  • From the BCS data there will be x32 Std Kale and x15 LI Kale on priority feeding only and x25 Std Kale and x20 LI kale on OAD and priority feeding; x51 Std FB and x37 LI FB cows will be on OAD
  • The first of the new grass paddocks will get their first proper grazing at the end of next week after being nipped off last week. They will likely require topping post grazing to help manage weeds without more chemicals. Areas of poor establishment in pdk 52 will be resown after grazing.
  • Tactical topping will continue however with the move to paddocks further down the wedge we are expecting fewer paddocks to require tidying up.
  • Pests and weeds continue to be a challenge in the crop and new grass paddocks requiring ongoing monitoring and management.
  • The duck scaring hawks and gas bird scarer have gone out into the crop paddocks and are being rotated around to reduce the chances of the ducks adjusting to them.

General Notes:

  • Bull matings continue to be recorded each week to increase the accuracy of our scanning information.
  • The first pregnancy scan of the heifers is scheduled for the 7th January and the cows on the 14th January. Bulls will leave the farm on the 12th January.
  • Milk production from the kale farmlets has been better than the fodder beet farmlets over the last couple of weeks, however with the reduction in inshed feed required as pre-graze pasture targets have lifted has resulted in the gap to the fodder beet herds being reduced (Figure 1). The LI FB continue to have the lowest MS production both daily and season to date (Figure 2). The higher season to date MS production by the Std Kale herd is driven by their lower milking platform area due to a higher area requirement for winter crop.

Figure 1: Milk production (kg MS/cow/day) comparison for each farmlet

Figure 2: Season to date milksolids production


  • Nitrogen fertiliser will continue to be applied to the Std farmlets – on average the Std farmlets have received 101 or 95 kg N/ha for the kale and fodder beet farmlets respectively, compared with 34 kg N/ha on the Std farmlets
  • The rain plus warm temperatures are ideal growing conditions for our winter crops.  Due to weather conditions during planting there is quite a range in the stage of development between the paddocks. Below are images of a fodder beet and kale paddock on the upper terrace.

Figure 3 a & b: Fodder beet in Pdk 15

Figure 4 a & b: Kale in pdk 16


  • The warm, humid afternoon weather is creating heat stress conditions for the cows. This was visible at milking on the afternoon of the 6 Jan with several cows open mouthed panting and drooling. Now that the smaXtec boli have been inserted for nearly 2 weeks they will have stabilised so we will start monitoring that data for indications of heat stress as well. For more information on managing heat stress see Heat stress – DairyNZ.
  • Changes to our grazing management for all farmlets earlier in the season has seen a different APC trend across the farmlets compared with the 2019-20 season (Figure 5). Std farmlets have responded better to the N fertiliser and warm temperatures over the last 3 weeks resulted in higher growth rates and APC.

Figure 5: Average pasture cover seasonal trends for each farmlet compared to 2019-20

Animal Health

  • There have been no cases of mastitis for approximately 6 months now and lameness appears to have settled down in recent weeks.
  • All the calves were weighed this week and received a Turbo treatment for parasites. The heaviest 120 animals have been identified and will be transported to the grazier at the beginning of next week.
  • There are a group of tail end calves that will be assessed by the vet on Friday and a management plan put in place.

People Management and Visitors

  • It has been a priority for all staff to take some annual leave over the Christmas/New Year period and this will continue through January.

Research on-farm

  • The direct drilled areas in our fodder beet crop establishment demonstration paddock were redrilled just prior to Christmas and are now at the 2 leaf stage. Interestingly there have been more plants from the initial establishment germinate than initial thought so it will be interesting to see how this area develops.

Figure 6 a & b: New direct drill lines in the fodder beet cropping establishment demonstration

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: