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

Monday, 21 January 2019


Week ending farm notes 21-1-19

  • Cover has climbed this week to average 2083kgDM/ha with growth averaging 45kgDM/ha for the week, and we continue to anticipate this dropping along with our soil moisture. 
  • Critical Pasture management decisions:
    • Rotation has slowed during the week from 24 days to 37 days of the farm area, and averaged 30 days this past week. 37 days (2ha for large herd and 1.6ha for small herd), is a convenient allocation based on varying paddock sizes.  We will remain on this round and feeding regime for one more week with the wedge we have in front of us. 
    • Adjusting crop allocations over the coming week down to 4kg turnips/cow/day and noting higher dry matter of 10-11% in our recent samples.  The reduced allocation is more to extend the window in which we can feed turnips through all of February so we are now rationing these out.
    • We will offset the reduction in turnips with more PKE and silage in the day feed. 
    • We have 8ha of grass at the run-off that we will likely graze this time with the herd.  We count this as bought in feed (recorded as off farm grazing) and this will help ensure we don’t graze any paddocks in the wedge earlier than we should, as we can hold the big herd up for 4 days in the coming week.
  • In 1 week we will move into February decisions. 
    • The small herd will become a wholly OAD herd and not return to shed.  This includes the current 72 cows, plus another 50-70 of the most-at-risk based on BCS and expected calving date.
    • Grass allocation will reduce to 8kg/cow/day and silage will increase to 5-6kg, plus 4kg turnips and 3kg PKE
    • Overnight silage/pke to match with reduced pasture allocation will likely be fed in grazed turnip paddocks to make life easy.
  • Production has wobbled around 1.51kgMS/day this week, with 2 cows out of the vat with mastitis and 72 cows now on OAD milking.  The major change in production is the fat test due to PKE introduction.  FEI remains at an A – but is rising towards a B.
  • Heat stress in the herd this past week was less with cooler temperatures, and on average impactedproduction by around 0.03kg (30gMS)/cow/day (12kgMS/day)
  • Adjustment of milking times for heat management has been convenient and cows appear to enjoy the regime also, with no reduction in milk, 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.

1 week of regowth below, then silage smaple, then wedge

Monday, 7 January 2019


Week ending farm notes 7-1-19

  • Cover has dropped a lot this week with silage being cut to average 2044kgDM/ha with growth averaging 65kgDM/ha for the week. On the area kept in the grazing rotation for the week cover has dropped only slightly, from 2238 to 2176kgDM/ha.
  • Critical Pasture management decisions:
    • Dropping soil moisture and increasing soil temperature have now begun to reduce growth so rotation will slow along with this.
    • We have been on a 23 day rotation of the area in grass (includes silage paddocks), this will extend towards 28-30 days this week. With the silage area removed we were on an 18 day round of the paddocks kept in the grazing round.
    • 16 paddocks (29ha) have been cut for silage today along with the run-off areas into a summer stack.
    • Residuals with the cows are grazing between 1500 and 1575kgDM/ha.
  • We have an effective farm area this year of 147ha, allocated as follows:
    • 10ha in summer brassica crop
    • 137ha in grass including the 6ha of hay crop
    • 131ha is available to graze between now and February after hay area removed effectively in our current grazing rotation
  • For the week ahead we have 402 cows on farm on a grazing area of 131ha = 3.02cows/ha.
  • Pasture offered will now decrease on average to 14kgDM, with approximately 5kgDM of crop being fed to all cows.
    • Forecast pasture demand is therefore currently 42kgDM/cha/day (Stocking rate x pasture offered = 3.02* 14)
    • Forecast pasture demand is still below growth and the hole in the wedge will close up, allowing us to extend our round over 30 days quite quickly without the need for a large injection of additional supplements
  • This past week the herds grazed 5.8ha/day equivalent to a 25 day round of the whole farm or 17 days of the 102ha in the grazing rotation.
  • Production has remained around 1.56kgMS/day this week, with 5 cows out of the vat with mastitis and 42 cows now on OAD milking.
  • Heat stress in the herd this past week was considerable, and on average impacted production by around 0.06kg (60gMS)/cow/day (22kgMS/day).
  • Feeding levels this past week have been as follows,
    • Calved cows 16kg grass offered + 3kg crop
  • Feeding levels for the coming week are planned as follows,
    • Calved cows 14kg grass offered + 5kg crop

 

Thursday, 3 January 2019


Week ending farm notes

  • Cover has lifted this week to 2461gDM/ha with growth of 75kgDM/ha/day occurring on the farm
  • Critical Pasture management decisions:
    • 4 paddocks (6.5ha) previously earmarked are now closed up to re-seed and be made into hay in late Jan/Feb. We are no longer recording cover on these, and they are not contributing to our average cover. To all intents and purposes they are removed from the farm as a crop.
    • 15 paddocks (28ha) are set aside to cut in early January as dry cow silage, along with a further cut form the run-off grass and sorghum.
    • Residuals with the cows are grazing between 1500 and 1575kgDM/ha with post-mowing used for weed management on 3 paddocks.
  • We have an effective farm area this year of 147ha, allocated as follows:
    • 10ha in summer brassica crop
    • 137ha in grass including the 6ha of hay crop
    • 131ha is available to graze between now and February after hay area removed
      • 28 ha cut into stack in approx. 3 weeks
      • 102ha effectively in our current grazing rotation
    • We have 402 cows on farm on a grazing area of 102ha = 3.94cows/ha.
    • Pasture offered now decreased on average to 16kgDM, with approximately 3kgDM of crop being fed to all cows. We will hold at 3kg/day for several more weeks to keep grazing pressure up.
      • Pasture demand is therefore currently 63kgDM/cha/day (Stocking rate x pasture offered = 3.94* 16)
      • Pasture demand remains below Pasture supply, and we expect growth to remain above demand but decreasing for several more weeks yet. Monitoring is vital.
    • The herds grazed 5.8ha/day equivalent to a 25 day round of the whole farm or 17 days of the 102ha in the grazing rotation.
    • We intend to keep cows in pasture under 2800kgDM/ha, to keep quality offerings at their best.  This week around 30% of paddocks were above this target and mowed ahead of cows. We have dropped another 4ha this week to get the long stuff out.
    • Production has wobbled around1.57kgMS/day this week, with 5 cows out of the vat with mastitis and 42 cws no on OAD milking. We are continuing with Magnesium in the dosatron as this rapidly grown pasture is still a risk.
    • Heat stress in the herd this past week was considerable, and on average impacted production by around 0.07 (70gMS)/cow/day.
    • Feeding levels this past week have been as follows,
      • Calved cows 16kg grass offered + 3kg crop
    • Feeding levels for the coming week are planned as follows,
      • Calved cows 16kg grass offered + 3kg crop








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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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