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Dairygold Farm

Research Focus: Genetics

  •  Dairygold Research Farm is home to Teagasc’s ‘NEXT GENERATION’ Dairy herd of elite EBI genetics and our Automatic Milking System (AMU) since 2013.

History: The farm is owned by Dairygold Co-operative Society Limited. Teagasc leases the farm and uses it to undertake some of its core dairy production research. The lease of this farm commenced in 2002.

Farm manager: Ricki Fitzgerald Researcher: Frank Buckley (Next Generation Herd) Bernadette O'Brien (Automated Milking System)


Location: Latitude 50°07’N, Longitude 08°16’W

Area: 93 ha (effective)

Milking Cows: 200 - 250 (subject to scientific requirements)

System: Spring calving dairy herd.

Typically cows are turned out to pasture directly post-calving and annually achieve a 300-day grazing season. All replacement stock are reared on an separate block of land situated close to Mitchelstown, Co. Cork  

Soil Type: Relatively free-draining acid brown earth of loam texture

Paddocks: 147 (102 experimental paddocks, 17 paddocks per treatment)

Dairy Infrastructure:

  • 20 unit herringbone parlour with automatic cow ID, automatic cluster removers, daily electronic milk weighting and sampling, in parlour feeding, milking behaviour recording, weighing and drafting facilities, Moo monitors
  • 300 cow winter housing shed
  • 100 heifer cubicle shed 

Farm Map

The dairy herd at the Dairygold Research Farm comprises of approximately 300 cows. These are made up of about 200 Holstein-Friesian and approximately 100 purebred Jersey cows. Holstein-Friesian cows only, approximately 80 each year, are assigned to the AMU (Automated Milking System) project. Since 2012, within the ‘Next Generation Herd’, ninety of the highest EBI females nationally have been evaluated annually in a controlled systems research study. On this study they are compared with animals representing the national average EBI. More recently the scale of the study has increased to include elite Jersey females sourced from both New Zealand (sourced as embryos) and Denmark. Previous Teagasc research has demonstrated that gains in herd performance, efficiency and profitability, in addition to that explained by EBI alone, can be achieved by crossbreeding, particularly with Jersey.

Mean Calving date: 14th February


    Milk Fertility Calving Beef Maintanence Health Management
Elite EBI 219 70  101  37  -13  16  3.5 
National Average EBI 137 41  63  28  -14  14  .9  2.1 
Jerseys 159 65  44  31  -54  57  3.5  7.6 

Sires used in Spring 2021:

Holstein-Friesian – FR6076,FR6730, FR6631, FR5109,FR4571, FR5127, FR6436,FR6640
Jersey – JE4259,JE4989, JE6238,

Using the ‘Next Generation Herd’ to proof the future direction of the national breeding programme

The Next Generation Herd is a unique strategic resource that continues to provide sound scientific knowledge with regard to genetic improvement of Ireland’s dairy herd. To date, it has provided leadership/assurance that the EBI and our national breeding strategy will deliver. It enables us to understand more deeply the fundamental consequences of genetic change in key performance traits.

The Next Generation Research herd focuses on the validation of:

  1. Genetic gain achieved through selection for high EBI will continue to deliver improved cow performance, resulting in more profit and greater resilience for our national dairy herd.
  2. High EBI Jersey genetics, in practical terms via crossbreeding, can contribute additional productivity gains (milk solids output per ha) resulting in further profit generating potential.
  3. A Nucleus herd of elite [high EBI] females (both Holstein-Friesian and Jersey) can be effective in contributing to the supply of high EBI young bulls for the Irish Dairy Industry