Gatton Research Dairy

University of Queensland, Gatton Campus

The University of Queensland Gatton Campus is located on the Warrego Highway an hour and half drive west of Brisbane, Queensland. Nestled in the heart of the Lockyer Valley, the dairy and research facility is situated on the UQ Gatton campus within 2 hours of 65% of Queensland dairy farms. The Gatton Research Dairy is operated and funded in partnership by the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), with both organisations utilising the unit to support their research, development, extension and education activities.


The campus has a total of 1250 ha with an allocated dairy area of 250ha, of which 120 ha is irrigated. The dairy has approximately 90 ha of improved pasture, 120 ha cropping and 40 ha of dairy/ loafing area.

Dairy Infrastructure

14-a-side double rapid exit herringbone and a calf rearing building to accommodate up to 85 calves.





Dairy Herd

Approximately 450 Holstein-Friesian (85%), Brown Swiss (5%) and HF x BS (10%) milkers and dry cows and 225 heifers.



Calving Pattern

Calving from January to October.
Sexed semen used on elite cows, conventional on the next tier and beef semen on the lower end of the herd. Holstein bulls are used for clean up sires.


Animal and Production Overview

Currently producing around 3 million litres per annum (8000 L/cow/yr) with an average fat and protein of 4.0% and 3.3% respectively.


8.5 FTE’s
(FTE’s – 36.25 hour week)




Feeding system

The dairy uses a total mixed ration (TMR) feeding system with the TMR fed out twice a day. Grain and protein meals are forward purchased and processed through a computerised disc mill. A mixer wagon is used to mix concentrates and silages to be fed on the feed pads. The area covered by pasture is grazed by the dry herd and replacement heifers. Feeding infrastructure includes:

  • 5 concrete silage pits (500t as-fed of silage/pit).
  • 3 bay commodities shed with 27t capacity per bay.
  • 2 feed pads with sufficient space for 340 cows.
  • 2 shade structures on each feedpad with the equivalent of 4 m2 per cow at full capacity.

Forage production

Permanent pastures for grazing are predominately kikuyu based with annual ryegrass over sown into the kikuyu during winter. Other annual crops grown for grazing include ryegrass/clover, forage oats, forage barley, lablab and forage sorghum. Lucerne is grown for both hay and silage. The main crops grown for silage in summer are corn and forage sorghum and wheat and barley in winter.


The University has approximately 600ML of water storage which is predominantly captured by overland flow which includes access to 150ML of recycled water from Gatton township and numerous bores across the campus. The dairy facility’s irrigation infrastructure includes:

  • 16ha of solid set irrigation
  • Three lateral boom irrigators (12,30 and 35ha)
  • Two centre pivots (15 and 35ha)

Fertiliser management

Soil tests are carried out with a consulting agronomist with specific nutrient requirements for the planned cropping program applied accordingly. Manure and compost are applied on cropping and pasture areas.

Nutritional management

Currently the herd is managed as multiple herds (transition, fresh and late lactation) and fed a TMR twice a day which is reviewed monthly or as ingredient availability changes. The mixed ration includes a cereal based silage (corn or winter cereal), grain, protein meals and lucerne hay. The diets are balanced for fibre, starch, sugars and crude protein according to target production targets.

Future Plans

  • The main aim for the herd is to reach production levels of 8,000 – 8,500l L/cow/lactation.
  • Ongoing development of farm operations increasing labour and production efficiency
  • Dairy beef program