AFBI Sustainable Beef Production Research Platform

Genetics | Reproduction | Behaviour | Nutrition | Health & Welfare | Productivity | Food Integrity | Environmental Impact

Optimising production efficiency, environmental sustainability and animal health and welfare.

In partnership with


AFBI offers research capability in the areas of grazing and indoor feeding systems with capacity to precisely monitor individual dietary intake, behaviour, health and welfare, from birth through to adulthood. Dedicated calf and youngstock research facilities enable investigation of feed digestion, metabolism and overall gaseous emissions from young and adult cattle. Additional specialist facilities include individual respiration chambers, along with SF6 methane and greenhouse gas measuring apparatus and access to cattle Greenfeed systems. AFBI manages a productive beef herd which includes a suckler herd of 100 cows. The research herd also includes an annual intake of approximately 150 dairy-bred calves from the AFBI dairy herd, which are predominately Holstein male calves. In addition to the AFBI herd, the beef research programme expands to a number of other herds throughout Northern Ireland which are engaged with on-farm research projects.

Key research expertise

The ABFI Sustainable Beef Production Research Platform’s focus is the development of a sustainable and competitive beef industry. Expertise includes growing and finishing beef of suckler and dairy origin, and suckler cow health, welfare, genetics and productivity. Capability is further strengthened by strong linkages with AFBI’s Food Science Branch.

  • Suckler and dairy origin beef production systems
  • Nutrient use efficiency
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Animal health and welfare
  • Industry support tools and technology transfer
  • Expertise in food science and consumer experience

Principle features

  • Ability to record individual or group feed intake
  • Remote and automated precision livestock weighing equipment for in-field measurement
  • Individual animal, in-field concentrate feeding system for grazing beef cattle to include monitoring of animal liveweight and concentrate/water intake
  • Individual forage and concentrate intake monitoring from birth through to adulthood
  • Detailed monitoring of animal grazing and intake behaviour through pedometers and rumination halters
  • Access to both instrumental and sensory meat quality evaluation
  • On site feed mill for the production of specialist diets


Precision nutrition regimes and feed formulations to develop new feed products and ensure animals turn feed into meat as efficiently as possible. Informed grassland management to maximise use of high quality pasture and integrated precision management systems that consider production and welfare based on nutrition, behaviour, health, and reproduction.

Supporting the Grand Challenges facing livestock food production:

Climate Smart Food Systems

Resource Efficiency & Precision Nutrition

Health & Welfare Management

Precision Grassland Platform
The AFBI Sustainable Beef Production Research Platform herd also have access to 10ha of Precision Grassland Platform for detailed studies of the grazing environment, testing new innovations in grassland management and tracking the interactions from the soil, through the plant to the animal and the resultant meat and milk produced.

Precision Grassland Platform | AFBI Sustainable Beef Production | CIEL