UCD and Keenan join the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences to form the China-Ireland Dairy Science and Technology Centre

Monday 3 November 2014

University College Dublin, Richard Keenan & Co. Ltd., and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences have joined forces to form the China-Ireland Dairy Science and Technology Centre. The announcement was made during this week’s trade mission to China led by Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.  Keenans have been funded and supported by Enterprise Ireland.

The tri-partite agreement will bring closer cooperation between the parties. With a goal to improve feeding efficiency, animal health and reduced environmental impact of Dairy Farming, the Centre is an important strategic development between China and Ireland.

At a signing ceremony in Beijing, witnessed by Minister Coveney and Minister Hanfu at the Ministry of Agriculture on November 3rd, 2014, Minister Coveney stated: “The announcement of the new China-Ireland Dairy Science and Technology Centre is exciting and very timely. This Centre will encourage programmes of exchange and collaboration in areas of great importance to both countries as we face the challenges and opportunities presented by rapidly growing Dairy Farming sectors. Ireland’s involvement in this venture through Keenans and UCD is testament to the calibre and professional esteem both organisations are rightfully held in.  I wish the new Centre every success for the future and look forward to learning of its outcomes and achievements over the coming years”.

China currently produces 38 Billion litres of milk per annum and aims to increase production to 60 Billion Litres by 2020. Ireland is also expanding its Dairy Sector, with the quotas being removed in 2015. As both countries face challenges and opportunities in dairy expansion, it is an ideal time to strengthen the relationship and understanding between China and Ireland’s Dairy Sectors.

The Centre is a significant platform to further the dialogue and to help in achieving these goals. The Centre will play an important role delivering and extending technology and know-how to farms in China that will improve their efficiency and profitability. Keenan technology is a priority technology for China in this regard. Gerard Keenan, Executive Chairman of Keenan stated: ‘The Centre is a significant strategic development and it underlines the potential synergy between Irish technology and know-how as part of a solution to China’s food security and production challenges. We look forward to bringing sustainable improvement together to China’s Dairy Sector.’

The Centre will also undertake research in Animal Husbandry, such as in the area of rumen function, feed quality and animal health.

Excited by the potential research opportunities, Professor Alex Evans, Dean, UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science noted: “Ireland is very proud of its long tradition of cattle production and UCD is excited by the opportunities that this Dairy Technology Centre will bring to advance the efficiency and quality of dairy production for both Ireland and China.”

The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences is a key driver of agricultural production and related RnD in China. CAAS recognises the importance of international collaboration in achieving its production targets.

Professor Li Ming, Director of the Institute of Animal Sciences noted during his recent visit to Ireland: ‘Animal Husbandry and Dairy farming are crucially important to Ireland’s economy and society. I am hugely impressed by what I have seen during my visit to University College Dublin and Keenan. I believe that we share a common strategic goal and that Ireland and its expertise can play a crucial role in the efficient development of China’s Dairy Sector.’

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, who is accompanying Minister Coveney on the trade mission to China commented: “This important strategic development between China and Ireland clearly demonstrates the enormous opportunities that exist for meaningful exchange and collaboration between our two countries, and between State organisations and private companies.  I warmly congratulate all parties on the great progress they have made, and look forward to exciting advances from this collaboration in the coming years”.

End of Statement

For further information contact:

Gerard Keenan at +353 87 2518 910 and gkeenan@keenansystem.com

Ian Lahiffe at 00 86 152 0292 5122 and ilahiffe@keenansystem.com

Professor Alex Evans, UCD:alex.evans@ucd.ie

Tara Walsh, UCD: +353 87 2031 067 and tara.walsh@ucd.ie   

Dr Bu Dengpan Email: burdenpan@gmail.com

About the Centre:

The China-Ireland Dairy Science and Technology Centre

The Centre, which will have an administrative base in Beijing, will have three core departments.

1)      Technology Extension:

From agronomy to Dairy Science, there is an aim to develop a platform for the delivery and extension of technologies more efficiently in China. The first project will see the localisation of Keenan Mech-Fiber Technology, which will be implemented through the InTouch Centre. This will begin with a pilot group of 50 farmers, with a plan to reach 30% of the Dairy Sector by 2020.

2)      Research and Exchange

An active programme of research and exchange will be facilitated through the Centre, and a number of common areas of interest have already been identified. Through the collaboration, it is expected that a number of research projects will be undertaken per year, and there will be an active exchange of experts, with a bi-annual conference underpinning the cooperation.

3)      Education

Drawing on the knowledge and expertise of all parties, there is an intention to provide educational opportunities to high-level experts in both countries, as well as developing functional training for farmers and dairy practitioners.

About the parties:


Keenan is a feeding and feed efficiency technology company based in Borris, County Carlow. The company employs 250 people there and in sales and service subsidiaries in Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and China. The company’s Mech-Fiber and InTouch technologies have won major innovation wards in the last 3 years in France, Britain and Ireland. The technologies enable major improvements in the natural conversion of feed into milk and meat with very significant economic, animal health and environmental benefits. 


Established in 1854, University College Dublin is Ireland’s largest university.  From its foundation it played a key role in the history and development of the modern Irish State, and more recently it has established itself as Ireland’s Global University, with operations around the world, and more than 5,000 international students attending the Dublin campus coming from over 124 countries, including 600 Chinese students.

UCD provides joint degree level and exchange programmes in China with a number of leading universities including Fudan University in Shanghai and the Peking University Guanghua School of Management.  UCD also has a partnership with Beijing University of Technology / BJUT – the Beijing Dublin International College (BDIC). BDIC was opened in 2012 and now has 500 students studying for degrees in finance, computing and engineering.

There are 700 Irish students studying at overseas universities as part of their UCD degree programmes, including 34 BComm International students in Beijing.  Some 18% of UCD's Irish students spend part of their degree studying at overseas universities and this figure is set to expand in China and globally.

The UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science is the only university in Ireland that delivers education and research on the complete food chain from the initial on farm production through processing to final consumption by the consumer. The School supports the agri-food industry by educating students to become industry leaders and by conducting world class research. The UCD School of Agriculture & Food Science has an education agreement with South China Agricultural University (SCAU), Guangzhou, where students spend time studying in both SCAU and UCD. UCD will welcome the first cohort of students from SCAU in September 2015.


Institute of Animal Sciences (IAS), Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) was established in 1957. It is a national multi-discipline research organization in the field of animal science. There are currently 166 staff members in the institute, among which 149 are scientists and technicians, including 1 academician of Chinese Engineering Academy, 39 professors, 47 associate professors, and 89 doctor degree holders. IAS covers a total area of 551 mu (37 ha) with 60,000 m2 of buildings area,including 4 experimental bases such as the experimental farm 15Km north to the Institute, where is the Livestock Branch under the State Changping Integrated Research Center for Agri-Engineering and Technology located. In the institute, laboratories are equipped with sophisticated and cutting-edge equipment and instruments. The institute sets up 6 research departments, namely: Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, Animal Biotechnology and Reproduction, Animal Germplasm Resources and Production, Grassland Science, Veterinary Medicine and Livestock Product Quality and Safety as well as a central laboratory for chemical analysis.

The IAS carries out applied and fundamental research and technical development and research with swine, poultry, cattle, sheep and goats as main research objectives. The institute puts emphasis on the areas of germplasm resources, genetics and breeding, reproduction, feed science, nutrition and animal bio-technology, veterinary medicine, in order to solve the scientific and technical problems in animal production which are crucial, basic, commonly encountered or orientation-determining for the animal production. Moreover it is also engaged in organizing and coordinating key national research projects, extension of research achievements and advanced techniques, training of high-ranking scientists and technicians, promotion of domestic and international scientific exchange and collaboration. Above all, it is in charge of editing and publishing national academic journals such as Chinese Journal of Animal and Veterinary Science and China Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Medicine (original Animal Science Abroad).

During the past 57 years, IAS has gained 226 scientific research achievements, of which, 122 have been awarded prizes, including 21 national prizes, 50 provincial prizes, with 89 of which obtained national patent rights and 22 new breeds and cultivars. In the year of 1996, the institute was honored with the title of "Top 100 Institute" and "Top 10 Institute in the Basic Agricultural Research" for the national scientific research and development capability among national agricultural research institutions. It has the authority of conferring master and doctoral degrees in Animal Nutrition and Feed Science, Animal Production and Animal Reproduction, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Grassland Science and receiving post-doctor training in the same fields. In the past 57 years, 359 masters and 139 doctors graduated from the institute, 521 professional works and more than 3226 thesis were published.