Monday, 15 April 2019


Week ending farm notes 15-04-19

  • Cover has dropped slightly this week to an average of 2061kgDM/ha and growth of just 18kgDM/ha for the week. Moisture levels have remained very low despite 16mm of rain, and now a rapidly dropping soil and air temp are also at risk of deterring growth.
  • Critical Feed and management decisions this week:
    • Moisture is limiting growth. Our rotation is long enough to protect pastures, but lengthening further will not increase pasture growth rates.
    • Current feed budget forecasts now show us closing with below target cover on the current plan.
    • We can reduce our May pasture allocation from 8kg/cow to 6kg/cow and replace that feed with an extra load of PKE.
    • Growth supported by some moisture was curtailed by declining soil temps, and the final shrinking of the summer grass in paddocks. Around 15 paddocks this week show growth under 10kgDM/ha/day or zero/negative cover change.  We have grazed 1.8ha per day, which is an 83 day rotation of the whole farm or 67 days of the grassed area. 
    • Drying off the 2nd mob of cows has slowed the rotation down further, and the remaining in milk cows are being held up on a smaller area/cow this week too – around 50-60m2/cow for milkers.
    • We still remain in a feed shortage which means we cannot allocate enough feed to milkers to allow for weight gain in addition to milk.
      • Cows who need to begin gaining weight now, have been dried off and offered the same amount of feed as milkers to meet their calving BCS targets. Another 82 in the past week.
      • Cows who do not yet need to gain weight, can continue milking on current allocations for some weeks yet (161 cows remain in milk at this stage)
    • We now have 27ha of crop and regrassing/annuals out of rotation with 4ha more sown in Italians after the March weather produced a failure on one terrace. In brighter news, our autumn sown annuals are all ow between 1500 and 1700kgDM/ha and will be back in the wedge next week, and the brightest new grass at 1100kgDM/ha.  Until then we have an effective platform of 120ha giving us a current grass stocking rate of 336/120 of 2.8 cows/ha
    • Production has stabilised somewhat, averaging 0.94kgMS/cow and lifting after the dry off Friday included a dozen cows producing next to no volume and diluting average production. Limited feed means we track this information but will not adjust feed to increase production.
    • Feeding regimes this past week have been:
      Milking Cows, Ave:3.6kg PKE offered (3.3kgDM PKE), plus 3kg silage, plus 7kg grass.
      Dried off this week cows are on 4kg grass and 5kg silage (PKE starts soon)
      Already Dry cows are on 5kg silage and 4kg grass and 3kg PKE.
  • Cows remain at full rate zinc in dosatron, Spore counts have remained below 50k this week at around 20-35k, monitoring continues.

Weather station info and wedge below

Monday, 8 April 2019


Week ending farm notes 08-04-19

 

Monday, 1 April 2019


Week ending farm notes 01-04-2019

Cows are now at full rate zinc in dosatron as we see the pasture burn off and a likely reduction in grazing residuals in the near future. Spore counts today were between 5 and 35k, our first hint of activity in the paddocks.  We will now conduct faecal samples and be ready to trigger to boluses if required

Production is an interesting beast, residuals are coming up slightly now but milk is not.  Contended cows seem to be happy and partitioning feed to weight gain rather than just to milk. Milk protein% is steadily climbing.

Forgot to take many pictures this week, so adding some milk info snips instead.  Losing ground daily against last year, but still proud of how far ahead we are season to date, so that despite this unforgiving Autumn we know our early season wins have positioned us far better for a total season performance that will be similar to last year.

On that note if we look at BCS at the moment, the average of the herd is quite similar to last year on average.

However a very pleasing trend is through the individual BCS and careful management by Tom, we’ve managed to shunt out the required dry off date based on individual BCS and create more milking days for the herd.  Disappointingly we don’t have the grass to take advantage of this in our current Autumn, but we’re taking wins where we can get them.


The first image below shows the proportion of cows required to be dried off at each date.  Note, the first dry off for each year was 4th April 2018 and 29th March 2019 – so we had cows “overdue” for dry off at those points.  Where 41% of the herd needed drying off in the first cut last year it was only 20% of the herd this year. See %s above the red line.

The second image shows that despite having much fewer cows needing dry off we have a not-too-dissimilar BCS range, so it  is the careful management of at-risk cows early that has allowed the days in milk for them, by pushing better conditioned and later calving cows hard to keep resources available for those that needed it.

 

Tuesday, 26 March 2019


Week ending 25-03-19

Monday, 18 March 2019


Week ending farm notes 18-03-19

Cows are now at full rate zinc in dosatron as we see the pasture burn off and a likely reduction in grazing residuals in the near future. Spore counts today were between 5 and 15k, our first hint of activity in the paddocks.  We will now conduct faecal samples and be ready to trigger to boluses if required.

 

Pics show top of wedge grass, overnight residuals and then wedge this week

Monday, 11 March 2019


Week ending farm notes 11-03-19

Monday, 4 March 2019


Week ending farm notes 04-03-2019

  • We believe it is vital that farmers have a crisp approach to feed budgeting now, as volatile growth puts closing season targets at risk.
    An inventory of feed on hand now including pasture cover, and what is needed for winter/spring reserves including pasture cover and body condition scores enables clear decision making on the only two other variables – whether to buy in more feed and how much? Or when to dry cows off and how many?
    Owl Farm has clear targets for BCS gain, closing cover required and supplements needed at 1 June and we will dry off in-line with achieving those targets. This date will move depending on the only remaining unknown – pasture growth.
  • Cover has dropped this week to an average of 1939kgDM/ha and growth of 19kgDM/ha for the week.
  • Critical Feed and management decisions this week:
    • Removal of all bar 5 culls has reduced demand significantly allowing rotation to slow further, and reduce pasture consumption.
    • Silage has increased by a further 1.5kg/cow on average to bolster the diet.
    • Accelerated silage use and prolonged growth is using the silage contingency in our feed budget and is likely to bring dry-off dates closer to us, meaning milking into late April not early May.
    • Spore counts have decreased below 50k this week, monitoring continues.
    • 14ha is now sprayed out of the remaining grass area (133ha excl crop) and this is so regrassing activities can get underway. Use of effluent and planting ahead of the rain with fert down the spout are planned.
      Acting early on this assures no residual impact of late regrassing hampering our increase in average pasture cover.
      Spraying out now sacrifices very little growth and preserves any remnant soil moisture.
  • Production has settled averaging 1.27kgMS/cow though with all cows no on OAD, the SCC is elevated and more mastitis cases are developing.
  • 130 most at risk BCS cows are in a small herd, with around 6kg grass, 3.5kgPKE and 6kg silage
  • Heat stress in the herd this past week has lessened with the cooler weather.
  • Cows are now at full rate zinc in dosatron as we see the pasture burn off and a likely reduction in grazing residuals in the near future. Spore counts today were between 5 and 15k, our first hint of activity in the paddocks. We will now conduct faecal samples and be ready to trigger to boluses if required.
    Eczema trigger thresholds:

Pre-post spot the difference.  Still have longer covers to graze

Wedge

Monday, 25 February 2019


Week ending farm notes 25-02-19

  • Cover has held this week at an average of 1966kgDM/ha and 15mm of rain bolstering growth to 29kgDM/ha for the week.
  • Critical Feed and management decisions this week:
    • Insignificant amounts of rain mean we will hold our current grazing and supplement plan until more rain is on the horizon.
    • With reduction of intake per cow to an average of 2.5kgDM/cow/day of PKE fed we are back to a B grade on the FEI
    • Rotation has slowed down as expected having skipped back to the top of the wedge. In addition the large herd has had 3 days worth of grass supplied by eating paddocks at the run off. This is noted as the “crop” in the above table showing total intake.
    • Cow numbers are actively reducing – 34 cows left today (enter the coming week’s data, and 17 culls will follow by Friday. We will reduce PKE volumes fed to the herd to keep the per-cow rate the same. We will hold silage volumes at current levels, allowing more silage per-cow for remaining cows..
  • Production has dropped throughout the week averaging 1.33kgMS/cow and today’s level at 1.26kgMS/cow. Protein percentage has lifted through the week, along with increasing milk urea levels and stable fat%.
  • Heat stress in the herd this past week has lessened with the cooler weather.
  • Herd average BCS has lifted slightly in the last month, with OAD cows largely maintaining or gaining weight and TAD cows losing slightly.
  • Cows are now at full rate zinc in dosatron as we see the pasture burn off and a likely reduction in gr azing residuals in the near future. Spore counts today were between 5 and 65k, our first hint of activity in the paddocks. We will now conduct faecal samples and be ready to trigger to boluses if required.

Pics show OAD cows for BCS yesterday and top of wedge, 2600kgDM/ha with spore count 65K

 

Monday, 18 February 2019


Week ending farm notes 18-2-19

  • Cover has dropped this week below our critical threshold to an average of 1966kgDM/ha with growth averaging 22kgDM/ha for the week.
  • Critical Feed and management decisions this week:
    • With a drizzle of moisture twice, plus heavy dews we are increasing the frequency of eczema spore counts before the weekend’s rain so we can act swiftly if required.
    • We have had two days (soon to be 3) of a “C” grade on our FEI result. This last week we have increased PKE by around 0.3kgDM/cow but also our total feed offered has reduced by around 0.5 kg as pre-grazing levels have been lower for the herd making PKE a bigger proportion of the diet.
      We are adjusting PKE levels as of tomorrow, halving the amount to better conditioned twice-a-day cows and upping their silage to offset. Target is an average of 2.5kgDM/cow/day of PKE fed.
    • Rotation has sped up considerably this week to around 29 days of grass area. With looming rain, Tom has jumped off the top of the wedge to eat off the driest brownest paddocks in the middle-top of wedge BEFORE the potential weekend rain.  This ensure s we eat as much as possible of what is there now.  These paddocks have meant larger areas grazed as they were generally shorter in pre-grazing area (2200-2400kgDM/ha).
      With shorter pre-grazing that takes longer to eat (more of and smaller bites for the cow) we’re seeing a reduction in grass offered from 10-9kgDM/cow, this will further reduce in the coming week with lower pre-grazing covers again).
    • APC below target and low growth need to be managed, and we’re sitting tight until we see how well Cyclone Oma delivers our belated Christmas gifts of rain.
      • Turnips will be finished Friday, and cows are down to 2kg for a few days, then 1kg, then none. We are replacing turnips with silage in the diet.
      • If we get 0-40mm of rain we will hold tight on our round and wait until we have follow up rain. If we get 40mm+ with follow up rain within two weeks, we will likely haul rotation out and bump silage to start rebuilding wedge now.
    • As we finish turnips and increase supplements we have earmarked two paddocks for sacrifice zones for cows, that include shade areas for cow protection and these will also minimise pasture damage when we feed large volumes of supplements.
    • As noted in January, we have ample supplementary feed on hand, so we don’t need to panic. But also, as mentioned prior, we have a finite amount of feed available!  We are using it carefully and rationing what is available for best use. 
      Had we fed more silage and less PKE earlier, we’d be severely limited in silage for the balance of the season, and as we are now demonstrating we have a limit to how much PKE we can feed!  SO assessing and planning the best spread of resources we could manage is still seeing us tracking on target for closing feed on hand and APC.
    • Lastly, the whiteboard today and feed plan for coming week, bumping silage and expecting less grass eaten over wet weekend and Monday.
      Next week we play for all the marbles, deciding if we’ve got enough rain to move pasture growth and get heavy handed with silage to extend rotation.
  • Cow numbers are set to reduce, with empty cows listed with a stock agent for sale. Low value MT cows will be gone ASAP and high value MTs sold or culled within 3 weeks. High producing cows that aren’t desirable for others to buy, but are MT will continue milking while we have adequate feed resources.
  • Production has dropped throughout the week averaging 1.42kgMS/cow and today’s level at 1.35kgMS/cow with browning pastures at all levels reflecting the slow change in pasture quality and also choosing to eat off the driest feed before rain reducing total energy to cows. We’ve seen protein percentage decline in the milk with low Milk urea levels continuing.
  • Heat stress in the herd this past week was severe with the prolonged high temperatures.
    On average impacted production by around 0.11kg (110gMS)/cow/day (42kgMS/day). We are now consistently in heat stress with the cows at 80-100gmsMS/cow/day lost, and actively planning strategies where cows have shade access throughout the day.
  • Cows are now at full rate zinc in dosatron as we see the pasture burn off and a likely reduction in gr azing residuals in the near future. and spore counts last week were at between 0 and 10k

Our eczema trigger threshold is as follows:

 

Pics show Wedge, Pre-graze and overnight residuals

Tuesday, 12 February 2019


Week ending farm notes 12-2-19

  • Cover has decreased this week as expected to average 2049kgDM/ha with growth averaging 24kgDM/ha for the week.
  • Critical Pasture management decisions:
    • Rotation has stretched slightly to around 35 days of the grass area, and is a convenient allocation based on varying paddock sizes.
    • We will remain on this round and feeding regime until Feb 20th when Turnips finish.
    • Between now and then we will be unlikely to add more supplement as pasture levels begin decrease in the daily allocations. We are being careful with our silage resource and will only bump it up when the turnips end. 
    • We are looking to exit approximately 35 of 57 culls in the next 2-3 weeks to avoid a feedbudget pressure point.
    • It is likely the remaining cows will move to OAD milking as the turnips end for practicality purposes
    • Crop allocation has reduced to 3kgDM/cow/day and we can continue this until Feb 20th
    • Paddocks and existing pasture are heavily burned off now and we are continuing to “eat the remaining grass” in paddocks
  • Production has wobbled around 1.44kgMS/day this week, with 4 cows out of the vat with mastitis, and one mastitis cull removed from the herd last Tuesday. We remain with 220 cows on OAD milking.
  • Reproductive update – final scan was completed this week and we have recorded 48 cows of the 397 left on farm as not in calf. We are pleased with an improvement over the 17% not in calf last year.
    Disappointingly, we had cause to re-scan 5 cows that were scanned in-calf to 6 weeks before Christmas and confirm that they have slipped since the 20 December scan.  So of our 12% empty, we can say that 10.8% of these cows didn’t have a recorded pregnancy occur.  Another 1.2% of the herd were scanned in-calf to 6 weeks and later aborted/slipped before the February scan.
  • Heat stress in the herd this past week has remained quite intense. On average impacted production by around 0.75kg (75gMS)/cow/day (29kgMS/day).  We are actively planning strategies where cows have shade access throughout the day.
  • Both herd are milked between 5 and 7am and are fully wet under the sprinkler in the dark hours and then they travel a short distance to the crop paddocks by the shed for silage and PKE, then after milking allowed onto their turnips.
    At 11am OAD cows return to the yard for an hour of sprinkle time and at noon head for their night paddock.
    As the OAD cows leave, the TAD herd enters the yard for an hour of sprinkle time, then milking, then away to a night paddock.
  • Adjustment of milking times for heat management has been convenient and cows appear to enjoy the regime also, with no reduction in milk, and no major challenges in cell count. They also remain on the yard as long as possible post milking for sprinkling and then walk more freely away to the paddocks.  Staff days are not longer, in fact everyone is enjoying not having to move the cows mid- morning from a grass break to turnips.
  • Cows are now moving to full rate zinc in dosatron as we see the pasture burn off and a likely reduction in grazing residuals in the near future. and spore counts last week were at between 0 and 10k

 

Burn off on top terrace sand below (spot the duck!) then tonight's pre-graze and wedge.

 

 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019


Week ending farm notes 4-2-19

 

Longest grass, dried off bottom block and wedge








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Contact Details:

  • Louise Cook
  • Demonstration Manager
  • Owl Farm
  •  +64 7 827 9817
  •  +64 27 808 5777
  •  enquiries@owlfarm.nz

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