2021/22 Season HUB Weekly Farm Update as at 9th September 2021

Table 1: Farmlet feed wedges and general information

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

NOTE: Hatched paddocks are springer paddocks

Table 1: Key Herd Numbers 9/09/2021 – number of cows in each mob

DATE: 9 September 2021 Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB Total
Cows on Farm 201 167 197 167 732
Current being milked 156 133 147 137 573
Springers 32 21 29 15 97
Dries on crop 12 13 22 15 72
Slips/empty/deaths 2 1 6 1 10

Table 2: Key Weather and Feeding Numbers 9/09/2021

Soil temp (C) 10.1
Rainfall (mm) 16.8 mm
Allocations Kg DM/cow/day Std Kale LI Kale Std FB LI FB
Milkers 18-19 kg DM (15 kg DM pasture +3.7 kg inshed) 18-19 kg DM (16 kg DM pasture + 2.5 kg inshed + baleage as required) 18-19 kg DM (14.5 kg DM pasture + + 1.5 kg FB + 2.0 kg baleage) 17-17.5 kg DM (14 kg DM pasture + 1.5 kg FB + 2.5 kg baleage)
Colostrum 15-16 kg DM
(15 kg DM pasture)
Springers 3-5 kg pasture & 5-7 kg baleage
Dry cows 3-5 kg pasture & 5-7 kg baleage Fodder beet 8.5 kg DM/cow
Baleage 3.5 kg DM/cow

Key Decisions: this week

  • Just as we were beginning to relish in the warmth of sunny spring days we received a good dose of rain, hail and sleet this week to bring us back down to earth. Due to the weather our pasture utilisation has dropped but we continue to select paddocks based on ground conditions and try different techniques to minimise pasture damage. Even with the use of supplements to hold our round we have still used 3.5-5.4 ha more per farmlet and 18ha more across the whole farm than the spring rotation plan. This week the SRP has us on at total of 10.6ha/d across the farm of which 0.16ha/day will go to the springers, 0.35ha/day to the colostrums and 1.4-1.5ha/day will go to the milkers.
  • Last week we fed out less baleage than predicted and this decision was based off residuals. The only farmlet to eat more than its delegated amount was the LI Kale which was 2 vs. 1 bale. The kale farmlets also had 3.7 and 2.7 kg DM/ha/day inshed feeding. Season to date the LI farmlets have eaten more baleage than predicted in the feed budget with the LI Kale eating an extra 7 and the LI FB eating an extra 25 bales. For the LI Kale less in shed feed has been used than budgeted.
  • Next week’s springer draft will most likely result in kale and FB springer mobs joining together. We need to continue feeding them DCP so that the FB cows in the mob have their mineral requirements met.
  • The late fodder beet dries will finish on crop at the springer draft next week as we will be below 30 animals in this mob. They will join the late kale cows on pasture and baleage until they are merged with the springers.
  • With the delay in the fodder beet harvester being available we made the decision to try lifting beet with the beet bucket so we can feed this to the milkers instead of extra baleage. We will just lift enough for the next couple of weeks by which time hopefully the beet harvestor will be available to lift the remainder.

General Notes:

  • Paddocks that have had their first round grazing are showing signs of good growth. This is supported by the 10.1°C average soil temperature, growth rates of around 30-40kg DM/ha/day on the plate and our actual APC still tracking above the predicted APC line..

Figure 1: Actual vs. predicted average pasture cover between farmlets

 

  • The need to replace poorer quality baleage with beet is even more critical than last week if we look at the APC of the Std and LI FB herds and their milk production this week. As mentioned above we opted last minute yesterday to try the local contractor’s beet bucket. We do have concerns using a beet bucket due to the increased amount of soil that gets lifted in the process but felt the FB supplementation was high priority in the short term to get us through and meet the cow demands for milk production without dropping too much BCS. Using the beet bucket increases the chance of cows ingesting the soil and makes it harder to accurately weigh the FB and get the allocation right however we will do our best and be conservative with our estimates. Despite all the rain last night paddock conditions this morning allowed the first lot of beet to be lifted and fed out.
  • Beet will be offered at 1 kg DM/cow/day for the 2 days and increase by 0.5 kg DM every 2 days to a maximum of 2 kg DM to reduce the risk of acidosis for new cows entering the mob from the colostrums. It will be fed out in advance in the second and 4th breaks in the paddock so the cows can be held in the previous break until they are all back from milking and can be let over as a group.

Figure 2: We were lucky to get some FB lifted even under wet soil conditions

 

  • When checking the condition of the fodder beet paddocks yesterday we noted that some of the plants are starting to bolt so we will need to be getting everything harvested and off the paddock as soon as the conditions improve.

Figure 3: Fodder beet bolters starting to emerge

 

  • Our kale dries have now been removed off crop and onto pasture & baleage. There was quite a bit of kale residual left in the final grazings but due to the woodiness and low quality of the stalks we did not want to push them to eat it and underfed them.
  • Our cows were BCS this week, all farmlet milkers averaging BCS 4.6 and the dries ranged from BCS 5.4 – 5.7. From the graphs below you can see there are still a couple at risk animals with a range of 1-4% below BCS 4 of which these animals are on OAD. Only 1% of the LI FB are <BCS 4.

Figure 4: Body condition score comparison between farmlets

 

  • Milk production season on season has shown some interesting changes even with less cows on farm compared to the 2018/2019 season: In the 2018/2019 season, we calved into our current trial, with more cows (approximately 30+ more cows), and supplying earlier in the year with the first pick up August 7th. In 2019/2020, we were slow to catch the 2018/2019 year with it not happening until the 6th of February. In 2020/2021 we started a bit faster and caught and passed 2018/2019 on the 8th October. This season we started supply the same date as last year, with the same number of cows and have already supplied more than the same time last year, and based off predictive calculations, we will likely pass the 2018-2019 season to date production by the end of the week.

Figure 5: Cumulative seasonal year to date milk production

 

  • So far this season the LI Kale, LI FB and Std Kale are 12kg MS/ha ahead with the Std. FB 6kg MS/ha ahead. The LI FB have started well and have produced more than the Std. FB primarily due to a faster calving rate in the LIFB herd.

Figure 6: Daily kg MS/cow farmlet comparison

Animal Health

  • Our average SCC is sitting around 158,000 and we had x2 heifers contract mastitis in their back quarters this week. In comparison to other seasons our mastitis has been very minimal and we hope this continues.
  • We have noticed a couple more metabolic issues occurring and looking back on previous seasons this appears to be a reoccurring theme for us as we enter the latter stages of calving (late Sept/ early Oct). We think this is due to fatter cows coming off crop so the team is being vigilant in making sure all the mobs are receiving the required mineral supplements.
  • We had one cow with a prolapsed uterus this week. It was amazing to see her almost instant recovery from lying flat to walking and eating grass post the vet’s visit.
  • We are aware year on year that rotovirus is a threat in our calves due to it being in the soil. We have tried proactive management through rotavacing the cows, spraying the pens regularly, separation of sick calves etc. Our calves have been going well so far and have very clean pens but just the last few days we have noticed a couple of mucky bums. Samples have been taken for testing so we can be proactive with management if it is rotavirus.
  • Once the weather settles we will move x45 calves outside. They currently have access to the outside pen areas at the calf shed to acclimatise them for this move.

SDH Research/Demonstration

  • The scitech team will be plating x2 paddocks per farmlet pre and post grazing next and collecting feed samples so we can estimate N intake
  • Leachate samples have been collected from the Plant and Food lysimeters this week
  • Despite the challenging climatic conditions farm walks continue to be done weekly. A big shout out to Nicole Hammond who this week did the whole farm walk (80+ paddocks) by herself on Wednesday when the weather was less than ideal.
  • We are sad to say that it is Nicole Coulter’s last week on farm this week as our Scitech. She has been a huge help on farm and done well to adapt to the role of science tech. Being a Southland local we are sure we will continue to see her around in the future.

Communication

People

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:

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