UCD Lyons Dairy Education and Research Facility

The UCD Lyons Dairy Education and Research Facility is an exciting €2.3m partnership between academic and industry at UCD Lyons Estate. Consisting of 7 leading agri-food organisations, this world class industry led research centre will investigate innovative models of milk production and make an important contribution developing and educating leaders for the Irish Dairy sector.

The UCD Lyons Dairy Research and Education Facility will support the development of dairy products and services and provide a showcase for the very best of Irish dairy technology.

Industry stakeholders connected with this significant project include: DairymasterDevenish NutritionFBDGlanbiaIrish Holstein Friesian AssociationMunster Cattle Breeding Group and Progressive Genetics.

As a result of the UCD Lyons Dairy Research and Education Facility, the dairy enterprise will have an increased capacity for 200 cows and will support new and existing research programmes in dairy production including genetics, nutrition and herd health management. The herd will be comprised of spring calving and autumn calving groups and the emphasis initially will be on the role of supplementation in a grass based system to maximize production and improve milk quality and efficiencies throughout the season. The farm will also investigate novel grass based production systems suited to an Irish environment.

The research outputs from the new facility will be made available through academic publications and through interaction with key stakeholders in the Irish dairy sector. The investment at Lyons Estate will also provide excellent new facilities for teaching students in Agricultural Science and Veterinary Medicine, and with conducting research at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science and UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.

The industry group involved with this project have recently received a significant Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership Project valued at €1m, demonstrating already the potential of this exciting partnership. Other research funding received include €1.2M from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for the NutriGen progect.

Lyons Dairy Herd

The UCD Lyons Farm has a herd of 200 dairy cows that is split into two main herds. The herd-1 is a split calving herd of 140 cows, that comprises of 80 spring calving cows and 60 autumn calving cows. This herd supports new and existing research programmes in dairy production including genetics, nutrition and herd health management.

The herd-2 is a Production Systems Research herd comprising of 60 spring calving cows that aims to investigate the feasibility of a high input/output spring calving milk production system for farmers on a fixed land bank.

Dairy Research Projects

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‌Background:

It is widely recognised that grass-based systems offer a competitive advantage and will predominate in Ireland. However, grazing systems that have been developed to utilise large quantities of grazed grass have in the main been based on low output per cow. In this scenario, high levels of profitability are possible through avid cost control and comparatively high stocking rates for grazing systems. There are now reasons to consider the development of grazing systems that are based on high-output per cow. These reasons include

(i) concerns about increasing dairy cow numbers and environmental emissions,

(ii) facilitating farm expansion post-EU milk quota removal for land limited and fragmented farms,

(iii) lack of available skilled labour on farms to deal with expanding animal numbers.

The rationale for this research is that a high output grass-based spring milk production system can be profitable when built on a foundation of good grassland management and meeting both milk and fertility targets and has a place in a sustainable Irish dairy industry.

Cows in the Lyons Systems Research Herd grazing

To view and download the 3 Year Report on Lyons Systems Dairy Herd

To view Lyons Systems Research Herd Weekly Update Notes - click here

Acknowledgements

This project is funded by Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership Programme which is co-funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020. Funding for a Postdoctoral Research Fellow was received from Teagasc. Industry stakeholders connected with this significant project include Dairymaster, Devenish Nutrition, FBD, Glanbia, Irish Friesian Holstein Association, Munster Cattle Breeding Group and Progressive Genetics. ‌ Three-year new research work for Systems Research Herd is now funded by Dairy Research Ireland until Dec. 2021.

Logos of the Lyons dairy systems herd research sponsors

Contact us:

Prof. Finbar Mulligan
UCD School of Veterinary Medicine
01-716 6251
finbar.mulligan@ucd.ie

Prof. Karina Pierce
UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science
01-716 7774
karina.pierce@ucd.ie

Dr. Bridget Lynch
UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science
01-716 7769
Bridget.lynch@ucd.ie

Overview

The main aim of this DairyTech research project at UCD Lyons Farm is to undertake novel research into sustainable, innovative milk production models, which will address significant challenges faced by the Irish dairy industry. The proposed research will investigate significant issues for the dairy sector such as: breeding and genetics, grazing systems and forage utilisation, milk processability and bioeconomic factors of new dairy production systems.

Work Plan

DairyTech is conducting novel research in 5 interrelated work packages (WP) to address some of the most significant challenges to growth faced by Irish dairy industry including:

Key Technical Challenge 1 (WP1) Genetic and Bioeconomic Modelling of Dairy Production Systems. PI:Prof. Alan Fahey
Key Technical Challenge 2 (WP2) Investigation of causative factors and evaluation of control strategies for low milk fat percentage in Irish dairy herds. PI: Prof. Finbar Mulligan
Key Technical Challenge 3 (WP3) Monitoring lameness in dairy cows using remote sensor technology. PI: Dr Joris Somers
Key Technical Challenge 4 (WP4) Nutritional manipulation to improve the microbiological and processability characteristics of late lactation spring milk. PI: Dr Karina Pierce
Key Technical Challenge 5 (WP5) Development of a grassland management protocol for higher input/output dairy systems. PI: Dr Bridget Lynch

Acknowledgements

DairyTech is funded by Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership Programme which is co-funded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020. Industry stakeholders Dairymaster, Devenish Nutrition, FBD, Glanbia, Irish Friesian Holstein Association, Munster Cattle Breeding Group and Progressive Genetics also contributed significantly to the project.

This research project is very much a team effort with significant input from Prof Finbar Mulligan, Dr Karina Pierce, Dr Bridget Lynch, Luke O’Grady BVMS, Prof Alan Fahey, Dr Michael Wallace, Dr Joris Somers, Ciaran Hearn and the farm staff at Lyons, especially the Dairy Manager Michael Clarke and the Farm Manager, Dr Eddie Jordan, Project Manager Dr Faisal Zahoor and post graduate students Zoe McKay, Donal Walsh and Orla Neville.

Dairytech acknowledgements

Contact Us

Dr. Faisal ZAHOOR | Project Manager 
School of Agriculture and Food Science
UCD Lyons Research Farm,
Celbridge, Co. Kildare, (W23ENY2)
Ireland
+353 (01) 6012157
faisal.zahoor@ucd.ie

Introduction

NutriGen aims to improve the current understanding of the complex interactions between genetics and nutrition in the high yielding dairy cow. The main objectives of the project are to identify key drivers of feed efficiency and energy balance in high yielding dairy cows and the evaluation of the impact of various nutritional strategies and genetic traits on dairy cow performance in a seasonal grass based system of milk production. This will be tested through a combination of desktop studies utilising existing research data and dairy cow nutrition experimentation to examine short and long term implications. This new knowledge will strengthen national capacity with immediate application to farm advisors, farmers and relevant policy makers. A bio-economic model will be developed with the ability to conduct a detailed financial evaluation of the likely economic impact of the investigated strategies and the results will be disseminated to key stakeholders.

Rationale

FoodWise 2025 has targeted an increase in the value of agri-food exports to €19bn (+85%), increase in primary production value to €10bn (+65%), increase in the sectors value to the economy to over €13bn (+70%) and creation of 23,000 additional jobs from farm to fork. The growth of dairy production will be key in supporting growth in exports from €10b (2013) to €19b (2025) annually. This expansion,underpinned by research and development and facilitated by the abolition of EU milk quotas in 2015, will result in real opportunities for the expansion of the dairy industry; not only at primary producer level but also at processor level.  

Expansion at farm level can be achieved through adjustment of a number of factors such as acquisition of additional land, increased cow numbers, stocking rate, output per cow via cow genotype and strategic supplementation. The optimum production system is that which results in the greatest profit per unit of the most limiting input, which in a grazing system is land (Ramsbottom et al., 2015). Therefore, identifying the dairy production trait responses to nutritional management across varying genotypes is crucial.

Recent research has shown that specific nutritional management of dairy cows producing 7000-7500 litres of milk in early lactation can reduce the duration of the primary early lactation negative energy balance and positively alter the metabolic status of these animals early in the lactation.  However, the longer term benefits of these practices on full lactation performance, efficiency of utilisation of feed intake, fertility and health status at grass remains unknown. 

High yielding dairy cows have a higher requirement for energy intake and in a grass based system optimising grass intake whilst following best practise guidelines for pasture management can be a challenge. In addition problems with milk quality (processability) are more pronounced in a seasonal system and issues of milk quality in late lactation is an area of concern. Also, there is much debate about the correct supplementation strategies and also the response of various cow genotypes in late lactation.

Therefore, there is a requirement to deepen knowledge on the interaction between genotype and nutrition with particular reference to adequate nutrition of the high yielding dairy cow at the shoulders of the milk production cycle to optimise feed efficiency, energy balance and productivity in a seasonal grass based system of production.

Project Tasks

Task No.

Title

1

Identifying drivers of feed efficiency and energy balance during early lactation, and their interactions with genotype and nutrition

2

Nutritional strategies to reduce the severity and duration of negative energy balance and the associated negative metabolic status in high yielding dairy cows in a high input grass-based system

3

Optimising grass dry matter intake in early lactation of high yielding dairy cows

4

Supplementation strategies for grazing spring calving dairy cows of differing genotypes in autumn

5

The effect of genetic strain of Holstein Friesian dairy cows in a high input grass based system on production traits

6

A bioeconomic analysis of the impact of genotype and nutrition of high yielding dairy cow in  grass based systems

7

Implications of concentrate supplementation strategy at pasture and its interaction with genetic merit (EBI) on milk production, feed intake, intake capacity, energy balance, feed efficiency and energy partitioning over successive lactations.

8

Dissemination

 

Task application and integration

 Key stake holders who will benefit from the research outputs of this project:


 Research Team

 

This research project is very much a team effort with significant input from Dr. Bridget Lynch, Prof Finbar Mulligan, Prof. Karina Pierce, Prof Alan Fahey, Dr. James Breen, Dr Michael Wallace, Prof. Marijke Beltman, Dr. Conrad Ferris, Dr. Frank Buckley, Dr. Mervyn Parr, Ben Lahartand the farm staff at Lyons, especially the Dairy Manager Michael Clarke and the Farm Manager, Dr Eddie Jordan, Assistant Coordinator Dr Faisal Zahoor and post graduate students Elaine Brady, Conor Holohan and M. J. Doran.

 Funding and acknowledgements

NutriGen is funded by Department of Agriculture Food and Marine, Ireland and the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland. The major institutions involved in the project are UCD, Teagasc and AFBI.