2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 6th June 2019

General Farm Information

Table 1: Key Numbers 6th June 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 5.6
Rainfall (mm) 39.6
Dry Cow Allocation Target (kg DM/cow) 14-15kg DM on crop 
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 159 134 160 133
R2’s 44 36 43 37

Key Decisions: this week

  • The wet weather has meant we need to consider the location of our back fences to minimise soil damage. It was decided that our back fences were too far back in some paddocks’, so we implemented daily moving of the back fence to keep the mobs closer to the feeding face.
  • This week we did an assessment of all the crop paddocks to check for any critical source areas/environmental risks that we may have missed when we developed the cultivation and feeding plan. After doing this assessment we have delayed moving cows to the lower terrace crop paddocks due to the wet conditions. This will hopefully minimise any environmental risks and soil damage across the farm.

General Notes:

  • No farm walk this week; these will be fortnightly through the winter.
  • Transition onto crop has gone well and although wet and cold conditions the cows appear to be settled in their crop paddocks.
  • This week it was decided that the R1s post 30th September, will be grazed at a grazier with facilities to also ensure AI.
  • The feed reconciliation for the 31st May has been completed.
  • The distance to the crop face has been measured in each paddock that is being grazed so that we can track crop allocation against the feed budget. This will continue throughout winter to ensure consistency in feed allocation and manage the crop feed budget.

Table 2: Average estimated crop and supplement allocation for last 7 days

Average allocation for 2nd week of transition (kg DM/cow/day) Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Baleage/Hay 4.7 4.8 5.2 6.2
Crop 10.3 10.0 9.1 8.0
Target winter baleage 3.5 3.4 3.5 3.4
Target Crop 11 11.2 10.6 10.6
  • Wintering mobs will be resorted on the 13th/14th June into R2’s plus lighter conditioned mixed age cows or better conditioned mixed age cows. The R2s will have their final stature measurements. In hindsight, we needed the R2’s back on platform by the 20th May so they could be transitioned to crop at the same time as the cows. Currently the cows are fully transitioned but the R2’s only started on crop on Monday. Next year we negotiate the R2 grazing contract to ensure all animals are transitioning onto crop at the same time.
  • A machete was used to chop up FB bulbs for the R2s to try and promote an even transition of FB for naïve heifers.
  • The FB calves are really starting to get into their crop. The Kale calves were a bit slower to start off, but also started onto crop later than the FB calves. The calf FB paddock is quite wet so we are assessing the conditions on a daily basis and if necessary will move them into the adjacent paddock until conditions dry out a bit.

Figure 1: Pre winter stature measurements plus applying the behaviour tags to measure feeding behaviour in the R1 kale and fodder beet mobs.

Animal Health

  • Unfortunately, x1 Std kale R2 slipped just prior to starting transition onto crop.
  • Looking at the bloods from the 2017 (no P supplementation) and 2018 (P supplementation on baleage) winters, we have concluded that baleage supplementation only was only marginally better than no supplementation at all in maintaining blood P levels during winter. In 2017 59% of cows were below 1.3 mmol/L compared with 47% in 2018. This year we had moved to Dicalcium phosphate loose lick but, based on the analysis of the blood results, will also apply 50 g P/cow/day to the bales to maximise the chances of all FB cows receiving some P supplement.  

People Management and Visitors

  • SDH hosted a visit from PAMU South Island managers and Business managers this week. Thanks very much to Chris Smith (AgResearch), Dawn Dalley (DairyNZ), Jono Bavin and Tim Driscoll (SDDT), and Charlie McGregor (farm manager) for speaking.

Figure 2: PAMU South Island managers and Business managers listening intently to Chris Smith (AgResearch)

Research on-farm

  • This week Paige Harris (the Lincoln Honours student) and 2 Lincoln Uni staff were on site helping set up all the behaviour monitoring equipment. At the same time the pre-winter stature measurements were completed on the fodder beet calves. 

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 richard.kyte@southerndairyhub.co.nz

For more information check out the DairyNZ link:

https://www.dairynz.co.nz/about-us/research/research-farms/southern-dairy-hub/