Closes in 28 days (17 Jun)

“Novel nutritional management strategies to optimize the economic and environmental sustainability of pasture based dairy calf to beef production systems in Ireland”

WS 2022065


The number of dairy calves available for beef production in Ireland has grown by 30% during the past five years. Teagasc studies show that the net margin of commercial dairy calf-to-beef systems can be up to ten-fold lower than for our research herds. While there are many reasons for this, reflecting variation in animal husbandry and management practices throughout the production cycle, poor performance during the calf rearing stage, undoubtedly is a major contributor. In addition, research also show that artificially reared dairy calves on many farms fail to achieve their growth targets at weaning and housing, with deficits typically retained to slaughter, resulting in lighter carcasses and/or delayed age at slaughter. Indeed, we have calculated that up to 40% of the variation in final carcass weight can be attributed to the performance of the calf during the first three months of life. Likewise, research data demonstrate that post-weaning performance of dairy calves on commercial herds is sub-optimal and undoubtedly reflects poor grazing management, inadequate parasite control and inappropriate overwinter nutritional management practices. Delayed age at slaughter impacts both the economic and environmental efficiency of the system. The proposed project will thus address all of the above issues resulting in the development of more economically and environmentally sustainable and animal welfare friendly grass-based dairy calf-to-beef systems. The specific aim of the current project is to take an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to optimising the health, welfare and economic and environmental efficiency of grass-based dairy calf-to-beef production systems. A series of novel and integrated studies will assess and quantify the impact of various strategic genetic and nutritional based interventions on performance at both an animal and systems level. These will include: (i) early-life nutritional programmes to enhance calf growth; (ii) management of key dietary transitions to optimise grazing performance; (III) optimise nutritional management during the finishing phase in order to meet market specifications as well as minimising carbon footprint and (viii) conduct a comprehensive bio-economic and environmental impact analysis for the optimisation of dairy calf-to-beef production blueprints


Applications are invited from graduates holding or expecting a primary degree (First or Upper Second Class Honours) in a biological science (e.g., Agricultural Science, Animal Science, Biology, Genetics, Veterinary Science). The successful candidate will be expected to register with the School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin for a 4-year Ph.D. degree. The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and be prepared for periods of field and laboratory work, and engage in training and development courses. A full driving licence is required. For applicants whose first language is not English, requirements are outlined here.


The Walsh Scholarship funding is €24,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum or approximately €9,000 p.a. (non-EU students), and is tenable for 4 years. The successful candidate will be mainly based at the Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre (AGRIC), Teagasc Grange, Dunsany, Co. Meath, and will be registered at UCD. The research will be collaborative, involving scientists at University College Dublin and Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Co. Meath. The scholarship will start on Monday 5th September 2022.

Further Information/Applications

Dr. Alan Kelly, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4. Phone +353 (0) 1 7167775, email: alan.kelly@ucd.ie.

Prof. David Kenny, Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Dunsany, Co. Meath. Phone +353 (0)46 9026100, email: david.kenny@teagasc.ie.

Application Procedure

A letter of interest together with a curriculum vitae and the names and contact details of two referees should be sent by email to alan.kelly@ucd.ie and david.kenny@teagasc.ie.

Closing date for receipt of applications: 17 June, 2022