Supplement Use in a Variable Climate Update 10 Sept 20

This project compares three farms with different supplement use on production, profit and environmental impact. The three farm systems are:

  1. Pasture Only Farm – No imported supplement – 2.7 cows/ha
  2. PKE Only Farm – PKE used to fill feed gaps within milk FEI limits – 3.1 cows/ha
  3. PKE Plus Farm – PKE used until milk FEI limit and then other supplements added – 3.1 cows/ha

This project is funded by DairyNZ, MPI (Sustainable Farming Fund) and Hine Rangi Trust.

 10th September 2020 Pasture Only Farm PKE Only Farm PKE Plus Farm
Farm Area (ha) 28 28 28
Average Pasture Cover (kg DM/ha) 2186 2064 2021
Pasture Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 37
Rotation Length (days) 34 35 32
Cows in milk/total cows 72/77 84/88 86/88
Production/cow/day (kg MS) 1.39 OAD 1.91 2.00
Production/ha/day (kg MS) 3.48 5.51 5.83
Production – Season to date (kg MS) 160 214 237
Supplement Fed (kg DM/cow/day) 1.8 silage 3.2 PKE 2.3 PKE

2.6 Soya Hull

Supplement Fed – Season to date

(kg DM/cow)

142 Silage 204 PKE 204 PKE

38 DDG/SH

Average Body Condition Score Milkers 4.1 Milkers 4.1 Milkers 4.2
Proportion cows under BCS 4.0 11% 9% 9%
Worry Score (1 = Low, 10 = High) 5 5 7
Nitrogen – Season to Date (kg N/ha) 87 84 81
Milk FEI A B B/C
Rainfall (mm last 2 weeks) 27 mm

CURRENT MANAGEMENT

  • Pasture growth remains fairly flat despite continuation of N (Sustain) and Gibberellic acid.
  • Pasture covers are holding but there is no surplus
  • Milkers on all farms are on 110 m2/cow, or around 28-32 day rotations. PKE Plus cows have increased SBH to try and control FEI and lift residuals which are slightly below target of 15-1600.
  • The Pasture Only herd returns to twice-a-day milking as pasture levels and cow condition is reasonable. We have around 15 days silage left at the present feeding rate.
  • The PKE Plus herd has been receiving Soya Bean Hulls as it was cheaper than DDG and they did not require the extra protein.
  • The Fescue paddocks are growing rapidly and will likely go on a faster rotation to keep the quality.