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Dairy cow peering through fence

Hall Farm, Shinfield

Agriculture is one of the oldest and most important parts of academic teaching and research at the University of Reading. Reading is now one of the top universities in the world for this subject area, ranked 11th in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022 – Agriculture & Forestry). The University supports this through a number of active farms within its portfolio, one of which is Hall Farm, Shinfield. 

Our 580-hectare site at Shinfield is home to 550 Holstein dairy cows. The commercial herd is group fed and averages more than 10,000 litres of milk per cow per annum at 4% butterfat and 3.2% protein. Cows are milked through a 50-point rotary parlour.

Centre for Dairy Research

The location is shared with the Centre for Dairy Research (CEDAR), a unique, state-of-the-art scientific facility for applied and strategic large animal research. CEDAR can accommodate up to 200 cows fed individually for applied research projects, and also provides specialist facilities for strategic studies with smaller groups of animals. Current research themes include sustainable dairy cow nutrition, milk composition, and environmental impacts of milk and meat production. 

CEDAR has hosted numerous visits including farmer groups, research workshops or student groups. The staff at CEDAR also act as advisors for Innovative Farmers and have many current projects that involve knowledge exchange and workshops for farmers. CEDAR regularly hosts Open Field Sunday at its Sonning Farm, giving open access to members of the public.

The University works with various other institutions for project work including an existing collaboration with IBERs (University of Aberystwyth) on dairy nutrition and methane projects. The University further hosts Agrimetrics, the world’s first big data centre of excellence for the entire food chain.

Recent and current projects

  • DiverseForages project funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club (SARIC) and in collaboration with North Wyke – legume focus (and on an international scale, mixed swards in arable rotations).
  • Low protein diets to dairy cows (long-term Defra funded project) animal variation for N efficiency.
  • SMART Cow EU project.
  • Calf management – antibiotic resistance, cognitive function and behaviour, reducing lameness.
  • Vaccine development.