Centre for Dairy Research

The University of Reading has considerable land–based resources in the Reading area, with 800 hectares of mixed farming lands and woodlands spread throughout the surrounding areas at Arborfield, Shinfield and Sonning. In addition to the School's substantial teaching and research resources in crops at Sonning and animals at Arborfield, their farms represent a significant commercial farming operation.

Home / Centre for Dairy Research

Primary Contact: Zoe Barker (Postdoctoral Research Assistant and CEDAR Knowledge Exchange)

[email protected] | 0118 378 4549

CEDAR is a multi-species animal research facility located at the University of Reading’s 500 ha Hall Farm, home to a commercial herd of 550 Holstein dairy cows. The cows are predominantly housed inside on sand beds, but grazing is available between April and November. The farm has a rotary milking parlour and expanded silage and slurry storage facilities. Growing feed requires 50% of the site with the remaining land a mixture of arable, floodplain, woodland and scrub and 22 hectares of natural wildflower meadows which are open to the public. The meat and growth unit allows research involving beef, sheep, poultry and llamas. Angus cross beef calves are sold to a Waitrose supplier.

The university’s 180 hectare Sonning farm is home to a Crop Research Unit and dairy livestock, including combinable crops, maize, grazing leys and woodland and scrub.


CEDAR’s primary purpose is to undertake world-leading research in dairy science to improve the sustainability of livestock production.


CEDAR has extensive research capabilities including computerised feeding stations where up to 200 cows can be individually fed different diets and a metabolism unit enabling detailed studies of digestion, energy metabolism and methane emission.

CEDAR have hosted numerous visits including farmer groups, research workshops or student groups, including international visitors and 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 OFS at their Sonning Farm.

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 the Centre for Agrimetrics, the world’s first big data centre of excellence for the entire food chain.

Research interests:

The two primary areas of focus are the sustainability and health effects of animal-derived foods. This includes the environmental impacts of milk and meat production, sustainable forages for livestock systems, dairy cow digestion and nutrition, milk composition and human health.

Recent and current projects:

  • DiverseForages project funded by SARIC- legume focus (and on an international scales, mixed swards in arable rotations) in collaboration with North Wyke - research conference and paper end of March (British Grassland Society)
  • 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