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PhD Walsh Fellowship

 Automating the Milking Process within a Grass-based System


The defining feature of an automatic milking system (AMS) is that cows decide when they wish to come to the milking area and all of the milking functions are automated with cow milking distributed over ~23h period. Currently, many Irish dairy farms are focused on herd expansion and efficiency to maintain profitability. But skilled labour is scarce and expensive, and milking presents a significant constraint on work life organisation and quality of life issues. Automatic milking could present a potential resolution. Dairying in Ireland may involve specific challenges to automated milking, such as integration into a pasture system, infrastructure and climate. Thus, a research duty exists to investigate the feasibility of automated milking using an Irish research dairy farm. This proposed project will focus on simultaneously maximising both output from the AMS unit and grass as a proportion of cow diet. It will measure key performance indicators of production, energy and economics as well as a full complement of animal and product (milk) parameters. The objective of this fellowship is to carry out a scientific appraisal of the system together with an economic analysis of the automatic milking system. This research shall be related to and will provide the information necessary for future decision making on the direction of milking organisation on dairy farms in Ireland.

Applicants should have a good primary degree (First or Second Class Honours) or M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline (Agricultural Science, Computer Science, Engineering or Bioinformatics). The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated with proven abilities in mathematical modelling and data analysis. A full EU driving licence is also required.


The PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc Moorepark and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). The student will be based at the Teagasc Research Centre at Moorepark Co. Cork and will be registered at CIT, working under the supervision of Dr Roy Sleator and Aisling O’Driscoll in association with Teagasc supervisors (Dr Bernadette O’Brien and John Upton).

The fellowship provides a stipend of €21,000. University fees are paid by the student from the stipend which is tenable for 4 years.

Further Information/Applications:

  • Dr Bernadette O’Brien, Livestock Systems Research Department, Teagasc Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork. T: +353 (0) 25 42222
  • Dr Roy Sleator, Department of Biological Sciences, Cork Institute of Technology, Bishopstown, Cork. T: +353 (0) 21 433 5405
  • Aisling O’ Driscoll, Department of Computing, Cork Institute of Technology, Bishopstown, Cork. T: +353 (0) 21 433 5506

Application Procedure:
Submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae and a letter of interest to the below:
Dr Bernadette O’Brien (, Dr Roy Sleator ( and Aisling O’ Driscoll (