2019/20 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 8th August 2019

No Feed wedges this week as the farmwalk was postponed due to very wet conditions following the snow and only 4 ha in total grazed since the previous week. The next farm walk will be on Wednesday 14th August.

General Farm Information

Table 2: Key Numbers 8th August 2019

Kale Fodder beet
Soil temp (C) 4
Rainfall (mm) 39.0
Dry cow Intake Target (kg DM/cow) 12kg DM crop + 3-3.5kg DM baleage 11.6kg DM crop + 3-3.5kg DM baleage
Springer allocation 5kg DM pasture + 5kg DM baleage
Colostrum Allocation (kg DM/cow) 15kg DM
Milk Allocation 15kg DM 15kg DM
Animal Summary Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Pink Blue Green Yellow
Dries 148 129 112 109
Springers 45 33 74 41
Colostrums 4 6 11 14
Milkers 6 1 4 7

Key Decisions: this week

  • The last week has been very interesting with winter finally arriving. Another bout of bad weather is predicted for this week so we will continue our actions and learnings for wet weather management (see in General notes section). This week we will also ensure our springer drafts are completed and up to date before the storm rolls in to prevent any unnecessary stock movements when conditions are not ideal. Managing paddock damage and animal welfare will be of high importance to ensure this period runs smoothly. You can read more about wet weather management on the DairyNZ website and utilise their farmfact advice: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/seasonal-management/winter-management/
  • No farm walk was undertaken this week due to paddock conditions and the effect of snow on the pasture. It was decided that the results would not be very accurate and staff time would be better spent attending to more urgent matters.
  • Driving around the farm we can see that our top end paddocks are starting to lodge. To prevent lots of damage, we have selected the highest x4 paddocks and will start by grazing the driest one. The largest mob of the colostrums or milkers will graze these high cover paddocks as it will take less time to graze them out. We will do our best to achieve good residuals but not at the expense of pasture damage. If conditions are very wet and residuals are not achieved these paddocks will be targeted for remedial action in the next round.

Figure 1: One of the high cover paddocks still showing lodging from the weight of the snow.


  • x40 bales of hay have arrived and will replace some baleage for the springers. The milkers are on a full grass diet, however, if there is bad weather hay will be added to their diet at night and their rotation momentarily held. Because of the lower digestibility of the hay the extra heat produced during digestion will help  help keep cows warm and it will provide extra gut fill.
  • We are hoping that the spader will arrive next week (conditions pending) to sow our catch-crop at the support block. One post-kale and one post-FB paddock will be sown with oats.

Figure 2: Spader that will be used to sow catch-crop

General Notes:

  • Although at sea level, the Hub did experience a good amount of settled snow on Sunday and Monday. It was important to act quickly with calves hitting the ground and cows having increased feed demand due to cold conditions. The following snow management practises were put in place over the few days of bad weather:
    • Stood milking mob off one night on a sheltered area of the laneway with baleage to prevent paddock damage and exposure to bad weather.
    • Extra baleage (2-3 kg DM/cow) fed to all dry mobs in the afternoon
    • Springers were checked overnight at 9pm, 2.30am and 4am and any newborn calves taken to the calf shed.
    • Once calves were picked up they received extra attention at the calf sheds to warm them up, this included:
        • A feed of warm colostrum
        • Use of blankets, covers and hay to reduce cold stress

this proved very effective with minimal calf deaths.  

  • Snow and wet conditions can be very hazardous, not only on farm, but also getting to and from the farm. There was increased communication between team members and assistance given to those trying to get home i.e. leaving 2WD at the farm and taking 4WD farm vehicle home, using WhatsApp to let everyone know when they were arriving and leaving the farm etc.

Figure 3: Snow at the Southern Dairy Hub


  • Feeding gold colostrum to calves is of high importance to prevent failure of passive transfer. It was decided we would purchase a Brix refractometer to ensure the colostrum being fed to replacements is truly good quality, gold colostrum, especially when our cows have not been producing as much colostrum as we would have liked. You can read more about preventing failure of passive transfer here and how to ensure your calves get the best start: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/news/latest-news/colostrum-management-giving-calves-a-great-start-to-life/
  • Although we have only just started calving we have already had two sets of twins, both of which were born from 2 year olds!

Figure 4: Twin calves born


  • R1s on fodder beet at the support block had to be shifted as the river began to rise this week. Staff did a good job at monitoring the situation and shifted them before water encroached on the paddock. With only one day off crop we were able to put them straight back onto the fodder beet once conditions had eased. We have however changed to grazing direction in the paddock to provide an even larger buffer to the river.
  • R1’s on kale have finished their crop so are now grazing pasture paddocks on the support block and being supplemented with 1 kg PKE/day plus 3.4 kg DM baleage.
  • Our soil test results are back so once they have been assessed we can begin to plan our spring fertiliser program. Applications will be dependent on soil temperatures.

Animal Health

  • As specified in previous weeks we are continuing the routine offering of minerals each day to all mobs of animals. In the wet conditions it was harder to ensure the cows were receiving their required mineral intake levels. Rather than dusting the minerals onto pasture for springers and colostrums it was applied to the baleage that was being fed.
  • We have pulled x6 cows off crop into the springer mobs due to lameness. There is no trend in the cause of the lameness.


People Management and Visitors

  • On Tuesday we celebrated Staff Appreciation Day with the team. This of course included baking and sweet treats. Over calving it is important the team is well fuelled and we often have snacks, baking, BBQ’s and the crockpot going over this period.
  • On 28th July we hosted Environment Court Judge Jane Borthwick 3 colleagues to the farm. They were particularly interested in understanding the impact to farm stocking rates if cows had to be wintered on pasture in the region and there was robust discussion around the effect bare soil vs wet, sloppy mud had on lying preference.
  • On 8th August we hosted 5 Chilean visitors interested in understanding our pasture based dairy systems. With 4 of the group speaking no english Louise had to host and interpret.

Research on-farm

  • 2 AgResearch scientists visited on 8th August to get an understanding of the data we currently capture across the farming business, how it is collated and where it contributes to decision making on farm. The visit was part of a proposed research project to develop a platform to integrate data generated on farm into useful information for decision making and reporting. 

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: