2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 7th November 2019

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

NB: The paddocks with hashed bars are either stepped over for conservation or have been grazed since the farmwalk this week

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

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 7th November 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 13.2
Rainfall (mm) 12.9
Milker Allocation 19kg DM pasture 19kg DM pasture
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
% Calved (total herd) 100% 100% 100% 100%
% milkers in Penos/OAD 9% 4% 3% 4%
% TAD Milkers 87% 93% 91% 93%
% OAD milkers 13% 7% 9% 7%

Key Decisions: this week

  • This week the ground temperature has further increased, accompanied by good moisture levels, which has resulted in boosted grass growth. This poses a threat to residuals, increase of stem elongation and potential on impact on quality if not managed appropriately.
  • Cows were leaving higher residuals this week and we struggled to achieve residuals on our faster round in the Std. farmlets due to pre-graze covers above the target by the time we got to them. Paddocks where residuals were not met this week will be identified for mowing or supplement next round. From the feed wedges we have identified approximately 44 ha to conserve as baleage with the aim of cutting next week. Removing paddocks from the top of the wedge will allow us to graze paddocks with pre-graze mass in our target range for a 20 day rotation.  On this faster rotation cows will be offered 24 hour breaks.

Figure 1: Paddock shut up for silage


  • Supplements have been removed from the farmlets except for lighter conditioned OAD cows in the Std Kale and LI Kale mobs who will continue to get 2 kg DM/cow/day inshed (reduced from 4 kg/cow/day)
  • The feed wedges below are with the current confirmed baleage paddocks removed

Figure 2: Wedges with confirmed baleage paddocks removed


  • Nitrogen was postponed this week due to paddocks being shut up for baleage and the remaining paddocks earmarked being too close to being grazed. Our 3rd round N application will start next week with urea being applied at 25 kg N/ha. We decided to go with urea over N Protect as we thought conditions were at a stage where volatilisation should be minimal.
  • New grass and fodder beet crop to crop paddocks received their fertiliser applications prior to planting. The beet paddocks require one more pass to achieve the desired seed bed quality. 

General Notes:

  • Conditions are now good to continue with ground work, crop planting and regrassing. Our springer paddocks have grown a lot of grass in the last couple of weeks so these will be split amongst the farmlets and grazed out early next week before they are sprayed. One Std FB paddock that was not renovated during the conversion will be sprayed out for grass to grass renovation to help manage the current pasture surplus.

Figure 3: New grass paddock planted and ready to grow


  • Our learnings from last spring crop planting was that we need to make sure our FB has a fine seedbed and that two passes are made to ensure this. We also found that if the soil is too wet it can become quite tacky and self-seal when planted resulting in the FB roots growing laterally.
  • We have used trackmap to identify buffer areas we do not want sprayed out or cultivated in the grass to crop paddocks for 2019. This will ensure we get the necessary buffer widths to minimise the risk of runoff into the waterways that run through the farm.

Figure 4: Buffer margins in crop paddocks


  • Soil conditions have allowed us to slow down the effluent irrigator resulting in an increase in application rate from 3mls to 5mls.
  • The graph below shows our trend in per cow milk production. We continue to see day to day fluctuation in milk yield within herds and attribute this to differences in pasture quality driven by previous grazing intensity and also species differences plus whether cows are put back to tidy up high residuals. Now that we have removed supplements and grass is growing it will be important to maintain pasture quality to minimise the impact on milk production.

Figure 5: Average per cow milk production across each farmlet


  • Mating update: We pulled x27 CIDRs out on Wednesday. The Std. FB farmlet has put up the least cows for AB each day compared with the other farmlets. There are a range of potential factors that may be contributing to this:
    • This herd calved quicker so perhaps more of these animals cycled earlier, just prior to planned start of mating
    • transitioning off FB last week and now on a full grass diet
    • potentially poorer grass quality from higher residuals left last grazing,

It is too early to draw conclusions and it is more than likely to correct itself as mating progresses. 

  • The cows were BCS this week. The kale farmlets sit at BCS 4.6, the LI FB have the highest BCS of 4.7, whilst the Std FB sit at BCS 4.5. Compared to a fortnight ago the Std. Kale have increased BCS by 0.1 but the Std. FB have dropped by BCS 0.1. The graph below shows how BCS has tracked since the 14th June. The LI FB had the biggest BCS gain over winter but also the largest BCS decline post calving.

Figure 6: BCS change from 14/6/2019 to 7/11/2019 across each farmlet


  • From the BCS results the OAD cows were resdrafted into new milking frequencies based on their condition. Recovered OAD cows went back to TAD, BCS <3.5 or overall poor looking animals were separated into the peno herd and put on OAD (if not already), OAD cows that are still light but not BCS <3.5 remain in their TAD herds. The Kale farmlet OAD cows also receive 2kg/cow/day inshed feeding. The % of OAD cows in each farmlet can be seen in table 2, with Std. Kale having the most at 13%.
  • With the walk over weigh scales in the exit race we can track herd liveweight on a daily basis. Since the herds have been stable with cow numbers we are tracking weekly average herd liveweight (Figure 5)

Figure 7: Weekly average liveweight (am milking) since early October


  • Our 2018 born heifer replacement liveweights have come through and their weight can be seen tracked in the graph below from birth till now. The kale animals currently average 264kg with 20% < 280kg, the FB animals averaged 257kg with 11% <280kg. Although there is some breed variation to consider, we would still ideally want a larger number of animals over 280kg for pre-mating.

Figure 8: 2018 heifer liveweights from birth to now for FB and Kale animals.


  • Calf weighing occurred this week. Calves at the runoff that are at target will be weaned, lighter calves will be offered more meal and kept on milk, and significantly lighter or ill-thrift calves will be sent back to the milking platform (x8).

Animal Health

  • Mg and limeflower dusting is continuing to all farm systems. We have started bloat oil in the in-line dispenser this week.
  • We observed a few calves coughing when they were in the yard for weight. Given the issues we had with lungworm at the support block last year we are seeking advice from the vets on the best course of treatment given some of these calves have only just been weaned.
  • Two calves were seen by the vet this week, one with a suspected urinary tract infection which may be kidney failure and another that succumbed to clostridial disease despite having received the first of their 7 n 1 treatments. The younger group still on the milking platform will get 7 in 1 this week.

People Management and Visitors

  • With mating in full swing staff are being trained to cover in the absence of Charlie and John. This week we give a big shoutout to our herd manager Billy who has done a fantastic job picking cows for AB and making assessments on the implementation of the grazing plan and suggesting changes if residuals are not being achieved.

Research on-farm

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: