The new addition to the complex cost $2.5m (€2.3m). It operates under the UCD College of Health and Agricultural Sciences.
The UCD Lyons Research Farm, which the university bought in the early 1960s, covers about 550 acres (220ha), and is located near Celbridge, County Kildare. The farm lies about 19 miles (30km) west of the university.
Planned research includes genetics, nutrition, reproduction of dairy cows and herd health management. The farm supports teaching and research and is used by the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, and UCD School of Veterinary Medicine.
Facility will have positive impact
Dr. Karina Pierce, lecturer in dairy production at the UCD School of Agriculture, told DairyReporter that she spends about two days a week there, and is based at the farm full-time during the summer months.
She said that the new facility at the farm will have a great impact.
“It means better facilities for our undergraduates and postgraduate students; a new milking parlor, extended housing facilities, and it’s allowed us to increase our cow numbers from 100 to 200,” Pierce said.
“Our core business is undergraduate teaching, so it’s an attractive facility for our undergraduates to work in. We’re competing with other colleges within Ireland, and even in the UK. Internationally, we’re trying to attract good students, so having good facilities is a very important part of that, and having safe facilities.”
Important facility for research
The farm – with the new facility – is a busy location.
“It’s where our undergraduates in agricultural science and also veterinary medicine would do quite an amount of their practical work,” Pierce said.
“Post-graduate students at Masters and PhD level are based on the farm.
“Around 15 researchers across agriculture and veterinary medicine would be active on the farm, in animal science, and animal and crop production. The farm is mixed enterprise for teaching and research. The vets use it for teaching as well, and some use it for research in herd health related areas.”
More cows is better for study
The increased number of cows is also important, Pierce told DR.
“That means we have more cows that are able to go for different types of research, so that’s a great benefit for the university too.
“We’ve split the herd, we’ll have 60 cows running at a separate ‘farmlet.’ We wouldn’t have had enough cows to do anything like that before. We have much more control to measure what’s going into them, in terms of feed, fertilizer and so on, and what’s coming out of them in terms of calves, milk, fat, protein, and so on,” she noted.
Links between academia and industry
At the opening, Minister Coveney welcomed the partnership between academia and industry, and said it would create new opportunities and jobs, and increase the value of Irish dairy exports.
“UCD plays a critical role in the Irish agri-food sector and this project builds on a range of innovative programs already in place,” Minister Coveney said.
The UCD project has been supported by industry partners including Dairymaster, Devenish Nutrition, FBD, Glanbia, Munster Cattle Breeding Group, Progressive Genetics and the Irish Holstein Friesian Association.
UCD President Professor Andrew Deeks praised the organizations and companies that helped fund the facility.
“UCD has always been at the forefront of supporting Ireland’s vital agri-food sector. This development is designed to continue this role as we train the future leaders of the sector,” Deeks said.