2020/21 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 8th October 2020

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 8/10/2020 – percentage of the herd in each mob

DATE: 8th Oct 2020 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Calved milking 99 98 96 99
Springers 1 2 4 1

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 8/10/2020

Soil temp (C) 8.6
Rainfall (mm) 55.4
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Springers 10 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d +
DCP 100 g/cow/d
Colostrums 14 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 100 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
13 pasture
MgO 50 g/cow/d,
DCP 150 g/cow/d,
Limeflour 300 g/cow/d
Milkers 13kg pasture + 4 kg inshed + baleage 17.5 kg DM pasture + 1 kg inshed 15 kg DM pasture + 3.5kg FB 16.5 kg DM pasture + 2 kg FB

Key Decisions: this week

  • That’s not a typo in our rainfall this week; we had a serious deluge of water come down that required immediate on farm action to manage. We were lucky that only one mob was down on the bottom terrace and we had pre-empted the significant rain coming. The following actions were put into place and discussed at last week’s meeting prior to the rain:
  • Altered grazing plan so that all mobs remained on the top terrace for a few days while the bottom terrace dried out and waters receded
  • Avoided wettest paddocks and identified the wet paddocks at the top of the wedge for grazing before the rain hit
  • Fed out more baleage to compensate for decreased pasture utilisation
  • Our soil temperature for the week of 8.6 degrees was surprisingly higher than expected and growth rates of 30-40kg DM/ha has helped hold covers although supplements have been required to all herds to achieve this.
  • Going forward all herds will need supplement but we will be keeping a close eye on the Std. Kale as their milk production has not bounced back after the wet weather suggesting that feed may be a bit tight. They also received the most top up baleage last week. Inshed feeding will be increased to 4kg and baleage fed where required.
  • The LI Kale farmlet will speed up their rotation from 3 feds to 2 feds/pdk (33 to 22-day rotation) when they hit the lower pre-graze paddocks at the beginning of next week. They are being offered 1 kg DM inshed feeding and will receive baleage where required.
  • The Std. FB farmlet will increase FB supplementation to 3.5kg which will be spread across the whole paddock (24-hour allocation), along with baleage supplementation, to prevent new cows entering the herd and gorging.
  • The LI FB farmlet will increase to 2kg FB and remain on a 33-day rotation for the next week
  • With recommendation from last week’s farmer reference group the springers continue to be offered pasture only
  • The colostrums have been grazing one of our springe paddocks but leaving a higher residual (1800-2000kg DM/ha). We have left over bulk PKE that was purchased for the culls in autumn when we couldn’t get them off farm.  This will be fed to the springers at approximately 2kg/cow/day in trailers in the paddock.
  • Immediate action will be taken early next week when the ground has drier to lift our remaining FB. It has bolted even more than last week and needs to be lifted before the effects of vernalisation set in and quality begins to drop off.

General Notes:

  • We had our SDH field day yesterday with a great turn out. We were very excited to be able to go for a walk around the farm due to good weather. The handout will be made available online in the near future.

Topics covered on the day included:

  • An update from Helen Thoday (DairyNZ) on the Winter Action Group initiated by the Wintering Task Force
  • An overview from Farm Manager Charlie McGregor of how winter and spring has gone
  • Carl Erikson from ES gave an overview of the NES and NPS and Louise talked through what SDH was doing in this space with decision making on farm and wintering options in future
  • Dawn Dalley (DairyNZ) gave us an update on the Research projects including:
  • Fodder beet vs. Kale wintering – are there differences in animal performance? Does feeding make a difference?
  • How much mud is too much mud? Identifying farmer friendly visuals linking soil conditions to animal behaviour
  • How much N is lost from crops and pasture at SDH
  • FB vs. Kale: impacts on calf stature and bone density
  • Feeding behaviour of R1 heifers on FB or kale
  • SDH participatory research project

Figure 1: Great turnout to our Spring field day


  • This week the team are heading out to the R2 grazier block to do Cu supplementation, stature measurements and weigh the R2’s
  • Nitrogen fertiliser has been applied to more of our paddocks but we have not completed the first round of applications for them all yet.
  • Although our spring has been a bit crappy the last couple of weeks’ we are still proud to record that our milk production is tracking 6900kg MS ahead of last year. The Std. Kale have dropped off in milk production recently and we will be increasing their feed supply this week to ensure their energy requirements are fully met. The graph below also shows the drop where the herds missed a milking due to snow:

Figure 2: Milk production across each farmlet


  • APC for the Std farmlets is tracking significantly lower this season than last (Figure 3), however we have a good supply of supplement on hand so are not too concerned at this stage. Cows are cleaning out the paddocks much better than last season so we should have improved quality pasture heading into the next round.

Figure 3: Weekly average pasture cover for each farmlet compared with the Std and LI averages from last season


  • Average monthly growth rate has been sitting slightly above last season but has slowed a bit this week (Figure 4)

Figure 4: Average weekly pasture growth rate comparison for the four herds


  • Our support block is very susceptible to flooding due to the Makarewa tributary that flows through the property and the proximity to the Makarewa river, however, our catch-crop of Oats managed to avoid any overland flow. Below shows this week’s growth progression photo and with warm, sunny days predicted over the weekend and next week we think it will be bolting away in no time

Figure 5: Catch crop of oats growth update photo


  • Although we still have a few cows left to calve we need to start thinking about mating. Heat patches have been ordered and although no formal pre-mating heats are written down, the team have been visually noting cows showing signs of heat with the metri-checking tail paint being used as an additional indicator.
  • Based off BCS and health records we have x57 cows on OAD and a portion of the more at-risk receiving priority feeding. Getting the cows at BCS 4.5 or higher for mating is extremely important and of very high priority. You can read more about herd reproduction and mating preparation here: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/reproduction-and-mating/
  • The weather has slowed the introduction of more calves outside this week however we plan to have the next lot out Saturday. With numbers outside increasing the farm team will take over the feeding at the support block from Monday.

Animal Health

  • Cows are scheduled for another metri-check next Friday.
  • We continue to pick up 2-3 lame cows each week which most of them recovering quickly after a few days in the colostrum/sick mob

People Management and Visitors

  • Next week the farm will be hosting the AGM’s for all the partner organisations – SDDT, SDH and SDRF.
  • It was great to be able to host so many people on farm yesterday for the field day and share the research we have been doing and what is planned
  • On Wednesday we had a site visit from DairyNZ and Tonkin & Taylor staff involved in the new infrastructure project getting a feel for potential locations, topography etc.

Research on-farm

  • Plans are underway for a crop establishment comparison on a kale and fodder beet paddock paddock for next winter. We got some great feedback from the farmer reference group last week on what is important to consider so we are in the process of mapping out what we could do and having discussions with the contractor.
  • Our spring N intake sampling is scheduled for next week – this will involve the normal monthly feed quality sampling and pre and post plating of paddocks grazed but will also include blood, urine, faeces and milk samples being collected for N determination.
  • DNA samples have been sent away for parentage confirmation (Figure 6).

Figure 6: DNA samples being boxed up to go for analysis

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: