Röbäcksdalens research barn

Last changed: 11 November 2020
A red and white cow who looks into the camera. Photo.

At Röbäcksdalen about 2 km from Umea city center there is a national center for ruminant research. The research barn offers an excellent environment for evaluation and feeding of forages for predominantly dairy cows. There are also possibilities for management studies and studies on calves and heifers.

A barn for cows and fields for forage

The facilities at Röbäcksdalen are an important resource for research in forage and in sustainable milk production. Scientists and industry have access to a unique research environment, where new technologies in milk production are used and where research of the highest class is conducted. The barn, which was build in 2006, houses 127 dairy cows + recruitment animals of the breed Swedish Red (SRB). Feed for the cows are produced on surrounding fields, which amounts to approximately 270 ha. The crop rotation is forage intensive and predominately consist of grass and clover leys for pasture and silage and cereals for crimped, ensiled grain.

Cold and warm environment

The barn is divided into two parts, one of which is insulated, while the other lacks insulation, but has floor heating to ensure the manure handling works during cold winter days. In the insulated part, the feeding table has been replaced by feeding troughs with load cells, which offers the opportunity for individual measurement of feed consumption. There is a total of 30 of these troughs and they provide info about the amount of feed, the time of each meal, and the frequency of meals.

The feeding system can handle five different silages, crimped grain, and an additional four different concentrate components for total mixed rations. In addition there is a possibility to feed concentrate also in feeders in the barn. Two of these concentrate feeders are equipped with a GreenFeed unit. They measure the carbon dioxide and methane production from and oxygen consumption by the cows while they eat concentrate. The cows are milked in a milking parlour with space for 16 cows at a time. The milking parlour also is equipped with two scales for individual animal weights and two cameras for measuring body  condition score.

Investing i new equipment

During the fall 2020 a new, smaller milk tank has been installed in the barn. The smaller tank makes it possible to separate milk from cows in an experiment from the milk from other cows in the barn. This would be interesting when the milk itself would be used, e.g. to test making dairy products such as cheese.

Grateful for our donators

Some of the equipment in our research barn would not have been made possible without the help of donations. One specific donator which has meant alot to NJV and to the barn is Kempestiftelserna. As an example they donated 5 million SEK for basic equipment when the barn was build in 2005-2006. They have also contributed to other types of equipment during the years, among others the GreenFeeds and the body condition score cameras.

An air picture of a barn surrounded by fields.
The barn is located rather centrally in Umeå and is surrounded by pasture fields. Photo Håkan Nilsson.
Topview of a cow barn where one side doesn't have a wall, but curtains instead. Photo.
The non-insulated part of the barn has curtains that can be raised when the weather is warmer.
Topview of a cow barn. Photo.
Most of the research is done in the insulated part of the barn
A milking parlour with place for cows on each side of the milking pit. Photo.
Sixteen cows can be milked at the same time in the milking parlour


Mårten Hetta, Researcher/Head of department
Department of Agriculture Research for Northern Sweden, SLU
marten.hetta@slu.se, +46(0)90 786 8747, +46(0)70-589 83 55

Page editor: malin.barrlund@slu.se