Tuesday, 14 May 2019


Week ending farm notes 14-05-19

  • Zoom! Cover has had another big lift this week with growth of the farm averaging 47kg/day and cover now at 2326kgDM/ha across the farm and all new grass paddocks back and lined up in the wedge.
    Video of dry cow condition in 2 parts here:
    https://youtu.be/andzq_X7HT8
    And 2nd view of the group and some more animals here https://youtu.be/UZT1QLfZWzc
  • Hard work has positioned us where we need to be. It is vital to have a plan of how your cover, cows and supplements will be set up for a high profit spring.
  • Critical Feed and management decisions this week:
    • We have a surplus over demand of a considerable amount between now and the end of the month, and with closing cover in reach we are going to use some of the excess growth to run for rapid weight gain on grass, and remove nearly all of the supplements from the herd.
    • Tactically we need to be extra careful as most of the paddocks to graze at the moment are new grasses, still high in nitrate. Careful planning around grazing times, pre-filling bellies on safe pasture is required to ensure we don’t risk nitrate poisoning in the herd.
    • Our slow creep across a silage face and wastage means we are better for now to close up the stack and set that safely aside for later.
  • Feeding levels past week:
    • Mini-mob of cows needing most weight gain – 16kg grass.
    • Earliest calvers and most weight gain required – 10kg grass + 4kg PKE
    • Later calvers and low weight gain needed – 9kg grass + 3kg silage.
    • IC Heifers – 6kg grass + 4kg silage
  • Feeding levels week ahead: (will take 5 days to clean off the face of the silage stack then…)
    • Mini-mob of cows needing most weight gain – 16kg grass.
    • Earliest calvers and most weight gain required – 14kg grass + 1kg PKE
    • Later calvers and low weight gain needed – 12kg grass
    • IC Heifers – 10kg grass
  • Zinc treatment in the dosatron has ceased with spore counts now routinely at less than 10k.

Pics show supply versus demand budget and new scenarios that we are making decsions from.

 

Tuesday, 7 May 2019


Week ending farm notes 06-05-2019

  • Zoom! Cover has jumped up again this week to 2254kgDM/ha and growth of 39kg/day, coupled with a very slow round of over 120days.
    We’ve had a bold tactical review of our plan for May and will be adjusting a few things as noted below.
    Hard work has has positioned us where we need to be. It is vital to have a plan of how your cover, cows and supplements will be set up for a high profit spring.

  • Critical Feed and management decisions this week:
    • We need to increase cover by a minimum of 100kg/ha over the month of May. This means managing demand to be at least 5kg/ha/day lower than growth.

With average May growth of 25kg/ha/day we would need to hold demand to 20kg/ha/day, or 7kg/cow.

We are currently growing well above this, and will use the next 10 days to attack and manage our new grasses while the good soil conditions continue.

  • We must increase herd BCS still, despite being well on track and ahead of last year towards target, so the light cows are being offered 14kg feed and the fat mob 10kgs.
  • Nitrates in Annual grasses AND Perennial new grasses have been very high and must be managed carefully.
  • We must restrict silage use as we have had to use some of our Winter reserves to get through the season so far.
  • New grasses need careful management to graze quickly to promote tillering and the remaining autumn fert needs to go on.
  • Heifers have all trained through the shed over the last week, and are ready for Teat sealing this week.
  • 10 day feed and management plan:
    • Due to great growth and good cover we will speed up our round to closer to 85days (from 126 days this week). Due to very limited supplements we will reduce supplement levels to maximise silage carried over into winter.
    • Get all new grasses and annuals grazed as priority, managing nitrates and avoiding grazing until Nitrate test levels have dropped, Anywhere from 11m to 3pm over the last week until the leves were safe depending on when the sun came out.
    • All herds will be on a silage, established pasture and new grass combo diet to ensure new grasses are nipped off to a minimum residual of 1500kgDM/ha.
      Herds will get established pasture and silage for breakfast and New grass/annuals for an afternoon snack.
    • Apply fert to anything that hasn’t had Autumn PhasedN after grazing, or anything more than 10 days away from grazing. 
  • Feeding regimes this past week have been:
    Recently Dried off cows are on 5kg grass and 4kg silage (PKE starts soon)
    Already Dry cows are on 3.5kg silage and 6kg grass and 4.5kg PKE.
    Heifers home had 6kg grass and 2kg silage.
  • Cows remain at full rate zinc in dosatron, Spore counts last week were between 0 and 10K after heavy rain washed the grass clean. We are hopeful the cooler temps will stop further significant growth and we can avoid boluses.

Monday, 29 April 2019


Week ending farm notes 29-04-19

  • Cover has bounced up quite nicely again this week to 2154kgDM/ha and growth of 31kg/day, with solid growth happening farm wide. The brown is gone! And the summer grass gaps are filling nicely.  More rain in the pipeline will see us keep growing along satisfactorily and very slow round will lift cover.
  • All cows are now dried off and the final stats will see us bang on 1150kgMS/ha and 417kgMS/cow. An increase in total production of around 1200kgMS off 1 less milkable hectare and from 12 fewer cows and the same bought in feed, but with over 1TDM grass less grown on the platform.
  • Critical Feed and management decisions this week:
    • Growth has improved this week with more rain. We have grazed 2ha per day, which is a 75 day rotation of the whole farm or 71 days of the grassed area (including most new grass paddocks) or 66 days of the paddocks currently able to be grazed after a few mid-wedge ugly paddocks were eaten so they can get fert, plus some of the undersown paddocks getting a kind residual applied. 
    • We now have 15ha of regrassing remaining out of the grazing round for another week-10 days. Until then we have an effective platform of 132ha giving us a current grass stocking rate of 336/127 of 2.54 cows/ha heifers arrive home tomorrow, giving us 427 animals on 127ha = 3.36cows/ha and the heifer arrival will mean we won’t slow the round any further despite drying the last cows off.
  • Feeding regimes this past week have been:
    Milking Cows, Ave:3.kg 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 4kg PKE.
  • Cows remain at full rate zinc in dosatron, Spore counts last week were between 0 and 10K after heavy rain washed the grass clean. We are hopeful the cooler temps will stop further significant growth and we can avoid boluses.

Pictures show top of wedge, the cows dried off yesterday in the sun and wedge.

Monday, 22 April 2019


Week ending farm notes 22-04-19

We are drying the herd off on Monday.  Basically running to the end of the month as expected, Monday works best for logistics, feed scenario allows us to milk until Friday.

  • Cover has recovered this week to an average of 2103kgDM/ha and growth of 24kgDM/ha for the week. This growth rate includes 4 paddocks of autumn sown annuals that are now in the grazing round.
    Pasture samples last week show Pasture dry matter between 20% in the lushest grass and 24% in the drier grass, with ME at 12.7 in the greener grass and 11.7 in the poorer grass.
  • 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.
    • Growth has improved this week with more rain. We have grazed 1.51ha per day, which is a 98 day rotation of the whole farm or 94 days of the grassed area (including most new grass paddocks) or 84 days of the paddocks currently able to be grazed. 
    • 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 20ha of crop and regrassing/annuals out of the grazing rotation and our autumn sown annuals are all now in the wedge in the grazing round. Next week we will likely add in the best 3 paddocks of new grass to the grazing round.  Until then we have an effective platform of 127ha giving us a current grass stocking rate of 336/127 of 2.75 cows/ha
    • Production has wobbled this week, averaging 0.9kgMS/cow and as low as approx. 0.8kgMS/day for today’s pick up during wet weather in an ugly grass paddock. 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.
      Already Dry cows are on 5kg silage and 4kg grass and 3kg PKE.
  • Cows remain at full rate zinc in dosatron, Spore counts last week were between 75 and 105K, more counting today, monitoring continues.

 

Pics below of pasture sample areas and the test results for P 16 ryegrass in shade vs P28 cocksfoot in full sun.  Plus wedge.

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

 








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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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