2018/19 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 7th March 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 7th march 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 14.8
Rainfall (mm) 0.8
Milker Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 16.0
Av. Kg MS/cow/day 1.36 (- 0.02) 1.34 (nc)
Average milk fat (%) 5.26 (+ 0.01) 5.40 (+ 0.13)
Average milk prot (%) 4.21 (+ 0.01) 4.26 (+ 0.13)
Average SCC (cells/ml) 152 (-15) 147 (nc)
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Milkers – TAD 177 157 170 137
Milkers – OAD 7 8 15 16
Other/Penos 5 6 1 4

Key Decisions: this week

  • Rotation length has been faster than planned this week and ranged between 27-32 days. This reflects the slowing of growth rates and there being no paddocks that have required grazing for 48 hours to achieve residual.
  • To ensure the cows are always fully fed at night cows have been moved into a new paddock for the night feed and then go back to clean up the previous paddock the next morning. This has resulted in some paddocks being grazed for only 24 hours instead of the required 36 hours required to achieve a 30-35 day rotation. Many of the paddocks that only achieved 24-hour grazings this week were regrowth from conservation or topping 3-4 weeks ago.   
  • This week the plan is for cows to graze all paddocks over 36 hours with supplements being added to achieve this in paddocks that have not reached the required pre-graze target. Residuals will be monitored to ensure we are on target with feeding levels and not wasting supplement.The target is to move to a 35 day rotation length in the next week.
  • There is a noticeable change in the feed wedges this week with the pre-graze mass trending below the target line. To hold a 1.5 day/paddock grazing time and consistent residuals, supplements will be offered to two farmlets: Std. Kale will receive 1.2kg DM in-shed feeding (PKE), and the LI. FB cows will receive 1 bale baleage/day (equivalent to 1.5 kg DM/cow/day). LI Kale residuals will be monitored and in-shed feeding offered if they fall below 1600 kg DM/ha for two consecutive paddocks.
  • Paddocks identified as surplus 2 weeks ago are still waiting to be cut. From the feed wedges it was discussed whether these conserved paddocks should be brought back into the grazing rotation to fill the deficit instead of adding supplement. However, since the paddocks have not been grazed for 40 days, are showing strong signs of clumps and seedhead, it was decided that they will no longer be good milking quality so will be conserved for use as winter supplement.
  • With the tightening of the feed situation on the LI Kale herd the decision was made to start the last round of N fertiliser at a rate of 25kg N/ha.

General Notes:

  • Cows were BCS this week. All farmlets have dropped, on average, 0.1 BCS from a fortnight ago, with the Std. FB farmlet showing the largest number of cows less that BCS 4. The % less than BCS 4 further supported the decision to feed supplement and not bring long, poor quality conserved paddocks back into the grazing round.


Table 3: BCS result and % cows less than BCS 4

Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
BCS 4.3 4.3 4.3 4.3
% less than BCS 4  6% 2% 10% 5%
  • In summary from previous farm notes, due to a 4-fold range in soil mineral N content observed between paddocks, 1st year kale paddocks, with the exception of 103, received a single side dressing of 69 kg N/ha in early February, whilst 2nd year kale paddocks were to receive 2 side dressings of 69 kg N/ha – one in early February and the other mid-March. The mid-March application has now been booked to be applied by helicopter. You can read more about these results on page 20 of our latest SDH Field Day handout at: https://www.southerndairyhub.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/SDH-Feb-Field-day-2019-handout-Final.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0ugmynYdwa2-0LgDnSyrRpHJi1OLAQrOMohZB9sinDVNXePRzQ67G5Y5Y
  • On Friday all the herds will have their final pregnancy scan. From these results key decisions and plans for autumn and winter can be made. By determining the number of empties:
  • The autumn feed budget can be finalised and the amount of extra winter supplement calculated.
  • Decisions can start to be made around empties producing less than trigger milk production levels and the date culling should begin to allow for extra feed for in-calf cows.
  • How many numbers will be wintered, and what options we have for discretionary culling for each herd once the empties have been identified. 

You can read more about autumn management decisions for your farm here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/seasonal-management/autumn-management/

  • All cows have now been DNA tested. DNA parentage testing in the herd will take the guesswork out of matching calves to parents at calving therefore improving the viability of information collected for research. It also has benefits of reducing risk of inbreeding, identifying calves with high BW, and maintaining up to date records with full parentage on young stock.
  • A new effluent hydrant has gone into paddock 92 this week. We have determined that there are infrastructure issues in the effluent network on the lower terrace so will not be applying effluent on paddocks in this block this season.
  • The umbilical system was used to apply effluent to FVI paddocks on the upper terrace that we cannot irrigate with the travelling irrigator because of power lines and the lack of effluent infrastructure.

Animal Health

  • We have noticed a slight increase in lame cows over the last couple of weeks. The farm team have been lifting the feet, doing a bit of hoof trimming and determining what treatment is required. Of the 11 animals in the peno herd, x2 are Johnes suspects, 3 have just come off mastitis treatment and the other x4 for lameness.
  • This week x1 cows was euthanised due to deterioration in health, and x1 Johnes positive cow will be sent away.
  • The calves that have been in the action group receiving meal for the last 6 weeks will begin to be weaned off their meal this week. Next week they will be weighed and split into new groups. Before going on to crop, they will receive a copper bolus.

People Management and Visitors

  • Crop review with farm team, technical advisers, Ravensdown and contractors.
  • Farm team members on PrimaryITO class this week
  • New team member signed up for PrimaryITO Level 5

Research on-farm

  • The tech team are busy working their way through the botanical composition assessments on all the paddocks on the farm. Samples are taken just prior to grazing

Figure 2: Botanical composition


  • Next week we will be completing the second of our samplings to look for any differences in nitrogen excretion between the 4 farm systems. This will involve the collection of blood, urine, faeces and milk from 2 successive milkings plus our regular monthly feed intake estimates and feed quality determination.

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 ProposalsThe 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: