Supplement Use in a Variable Climate Update 19 November 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.

18th November 2020 Pasture Only Farm PKE Only Farm PKE Plus Farm
Farm Area (ha) 28 28 28
Average Pasture Cover (kg DM/ha) 2142 2140 2203
Pasture Growth (kg DM/ha/day) 90
Rotation Length (days) 28 28 26
Cows in milk/total cows 77/78 87/88 86/88
Production/cow/day (kg MS) 1.56 1.63 1.60
Production/ha/day (kg MS) 4.30 5.08 4.90
Production – Season to date (kg MS/ha) 516 636 689
Supplement Fed (kg DM/cow/day) 0 0 0
Supplement Fed – Season to date

(kg DM/cow)

181 Silage 310 PKE 293 PKE

147 DDG/SH

Average Body Condition Score 4.1 4.1 4.2
Proportion cows under BCS 4.0 8% 12% 0%
Worry Score (1 = Low, 10 = High) 1 2 3
Nitrogen – Season to Date (kg N/ha) 162 163 158
Milk FEI A A A
Rainfall (mm last 2 weeks) 27 mm

CURRENT MANAGEMENT

  • Good pasture growth has allowed for silage to be cut on all farms, being 36% of the Pasture Only farm, 31% of the PKE Only farm and 27% of the PKE Plus farm
  • Average pasture cover has dropped on all farms with these silage areas cut. Areas All farms are in a comfortable position, but there will not be much more surplus unless it rains
  • Production has fallen further with the decline in pasture quality – the large areas cut for silage will help improve this going forward
  • All farms continue on a pasture only diet
  • Sustain will be applied at 40 kg/ha if we get sufficient rain