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David Kenny

Research Officer - Ruminant Nutrition/Physiology

Research Interests

I have extensive experience in cattle nutrition and in the examination of the biological control of economically important traits in beef and dairy cattle production using physiological and molecular approaches (see scientific publications). I am currently leading a large (€1.2m) collaborative research project funded through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Research Stimulus Fund which is examining various aspects of the control of reproductive function in beef cows and heifers.  I have recently secured a prestigious Principal Investigator award from Science Foundation Ireland (commencing January 2018) to the value of €1.9 m to examine the molecular control of puberty and semen quality in bulls. I have successfully completed, as principal investigator and co-ordinator, two large DAFM funded projects examining;

  1. Strategies to reduce enteric greenhouse gas emissions from cattle (including improving energetic efficiency) in 2009 (€530k)
  2. effect of dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on the physiological and molecular control of fertility in cattle in 2010 (€640k).

I am currently a funded investigator on four major nationally funded research projects (including as a collaborator on a recent Science Foundation Ireland Career Development Award 13/CDA/2182). I have been a funded collaborator on five other large research grants over the past 10 years. I have completed courses in quantitative PCR, cell culture and proteomics at the University of Hertfordshire, UK (2007-2009) and in cellular pathology at Dublin Institute of Technology (2014).

I have authored 128 full length peer reviewed scientific papers, two book chapters and >150 abstracts at national and international conferences. I have been invited to present review papers at the European Association of Animal Production Annual Conference in 2007, Greenhouse Gas and Animal Agriculture Conference (Banff, Canada) in October 2010, the British Society of Animal Science Annual Conference 2014 and 2016, EU AI Vets Annual Scientific Meeting in 2015 (Bulgaria) and 2016 (Austria), The French Buiatrics Association (Rome, Italy) 2015, Chinese Academy of Animal Science Young Ruminant Symposium (China) in 2016, as well as many national and international industry events.

I was awarded an Ireland-Canada University Fellowship (€5000) research study trip bursary in 2012 to conduct research into aspects of feed efficiency in cattle at the University of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I was recently a member of a three person international committee to review the Ruminant Production Research Programme of IRTA, the agency with responsibility for Research and technology in Food and Agriculture in Catalonia, Spain. I am currently chair of the organising committee for the annual British Society of Animal Science annual conference, to be held in Dublin in April 2018.

Current Projects

  • An integrated multidisciplinary approach to revolutionise dairy cattle breeding, through the application of state  of-the-art technology to advance the identification, sexual maturation, fertility and availability of semen from genetically elite sires 
  • An integrated multidisciplinary approach to improving the  reproductive efficiency of seasonal calving beef cow herds in Ireland 
  • A multidisciplinary approach for the development of 01/01/2013 biological markers of feed efficiency in beef cattle and pigs
  • Profitable production of bull beef to market specification  while ensuring optimum quality for the consumer
  • Maximising the Genetic Potential of Young Elite Bulls –  Multidisciplinary Approach
  • An examination of the genomic control of fertility in cattle
  • An examination of the molecular control of feed efficiency in cattle
  • Development of DNA-based biomarkers for growth in beef cattle                                


2016: Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Development (University College Cork)
2008: Postgraduate Diploma in Molecular Medicine (Trinity College Dublin)
2005: Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics (Distinction; Trinity College Dublin)
1997-2002: Ph.D. in Cattle Nutrition and Fertility (University College Dublin)
1993-1997: B.Agr.Sc. (1st class honours & 1st in class; University College Dublin)


Sept 2015: Appointed Adjunct Professor at University College Dublin 
Nov 2009-to-date: Principal Research Officer, Teagasc Animal Bioscience Centre (Permanent Position) 
2003-2009: Lecturer in Animal Science, University College Dublin (Permanent Position) 
2002-2003: Research Officer, Teagasc Research Centre, Moorepark, Co. Cork.



Professional Membership

British Society of Animal Science

  • McGovern E, McCabe M, Cormican P, Popova M, Keogh K, Kelly A, Kenny DA, and Sinead Waters. 2017. Plane of nutrition affects the phylogenetic diversity and relative abundance of transcriptionally active methanogens in the bovine rumen. Scientific Reports (In Press).
  • Keogh K, Waters SM, Cormican P, Kelly A, O’Shea E and Kenny DA. 2017. Effect of dietary restriction and subsequent re-alimentation on the transcriptional profile of bovine ruminal epithelium. PLosOne (in Press).
  • Byrne DA, Fair S, English AM, Urh C, Sauerwein H, Crowe H, Lonergan P and Kenny DA. 2017. Effect of breed, plane of nutrition and age on growth, scrotal development, metabolite concentrations and on systemic gonadotropin and testosterone concentrations following a GnRH challenge in young dairy bulls. Theriogenology. 96:58-68.
  • Kelly AK, Lawrence P, Earley B, Kenny DA and McGee M. 2017. Stress and immunological response of heifers divergently ranked for residual feed intake following an adrenocorticotropic hormone challenge. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology (In Press)
  • Johnston D, Earley B, Cormican P, Murray G, Kenny DA, Waters SM, McGee M, Kelly AK and McCabe MS. 2017. Illumina MiSeq 16S amplicon sequence analysis of bovine respiratory disease associated bacteria in lung and mediastinal lymph node tissue. BMC Veterinary Research 13(1):118. doi: 10.1186/s12917-017-1035-2.
  • Byrne CJ, English AM, Holden AM, Dick JR, Lonergan P, Fair S, Kenny DA. 2017. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation of young post-pubertal dairy bulls alters the fatty acid composition of seminal plasma and spermatozoa but has no effect on semen volume or sperm quality. Theriogenology. 90:289-300.
  • Byrne C, Fair S, English AM, Johnston D, Lonergan P and Kenny DA. 2017. Effect of milk replacer and concentrate intake on growth rate, feeding behaviour and systemic metabolite concentrations of pre-weaned bull calves of two dairy breeds. Animal. 20:1-8. 
  • Kenny DA, Fitzsimons C, Waters, SM and McGee M. 2017. Improving feed efficiency of beef cattle; current state of the art and future challenges. Animal (In Press)
  • Fitzsimons C, McGee M, Waters SM and Kenny DA. 2017. Molecular Physiology of Feed Efficiency in Beef Cattle. In: Biology of Domestic Animals (Chapter 6). C.G. Scanes and R.A.  Hill (Eds). CRC Press. Boca Raton.
  • Keady SM, Waters SM, Hamill RM, Dunne PG, Keane MG, le Goff M, Richardson RI, Kenny DA and Moloney AP. 2017. Compensatory growth in crossbred Aberdeen Angus and Belgian Blue steers: Effects on the colour, shear force and sensory characteristics of longissimus muscle. Meat Science. (In Press).
  • Johnston D, Kenny DA, McGee, M, Waters, SM, Kelly, AK and B Earley. 2016. Electronic feeding behavioural data as indicators of health status in dairy calves. Irish Journal of Agriculture and Food Science (accepted).
  • Rubino F, Carberry C, Waters S, McCabe M, Kenny DA, and Creevey C. 2016. Divergent functional isoforms drive niche specialisation for nutrient acquisition and use in rumen microbiome. International Society of Microbial Ecology Journal. (In Press).
  • O’Shea E, Waters SM, Keogh K, Kelly AK and Kenny DA. 2016. Examination of the molecular control of ruminal epithelial function in response to dietary restriction and subsequent compensatory growth in cattle. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology (In Press). 
  • Johnston D, Earley B, Cormican P, Kenny D.A., McCabe M., Kelly AK, McGee M and Waters SM. 2016. Characterisation of the whole blood mRNA transcriptome in Holstein-Friesian and Jersey calves in response to gradual weaning. PLOS ONE (In Press).
  • Diskin MG and Kenny DA. 2016. Managing the reproductive performance of beef cows. Theriogenology. doi:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2016.04.052


I have successfully supervised the studies of 15 Ph.D. and 9 M.Sc. students to completion as principle supervisor (details available on request) and co-supervised the theses of a further 11 Ph.D. graduates. I am currently the principle supervisor of 3 Ph.D. students, two Post-doctoral researchers and one research technician. I have acted as external examiner on two M.Sc. and three Ph.D. theses.

Current Students
Emma O’Shea: Ph.D. project; ‘An examination of the molecular control of nutrient digestion and absorption in cattle undergoing the compensatory growth phenomenon’

Hannah Marks 
Roberto Rubio