Facilities and Capabilities


front entrance to the Chiswick laboratory site

In vivo

The Chiswick Field station occupies 1474 hectares of predominantly pastured property located in the New England farmland of Armidale, NSW at altitudes of 1130 to 1050 m above sea level. The station is an active farm and can accommodate mixed farming and pastoral grazing with capacity for both sheep and cattle for long- and short-term research. This type of livestock research operates across four scales, from commercial scale paddocks, to smaller plots, livestock handling yards and indoor pens. Livestock resources include an Angus performance recorded (APR) herd, selection line and multiple CSIRO station Merino flocks, meat breed sheep and capacity to stock other grazing animals. There is also a 36-hectare area of land quarantined for higher risk categories of livestock, DAWE and OGTR regulated research.

virtual fencing testing with sheep out in the field

In vitro

The F.D. McMaster laboratory facilities are located on the same site as the Chiswick Field station thus providing the ability to conduct research trials requiring a blend of animal sampling and further laboratory analyses. Eleven laboratory areas are available where three operate at a physical containment level 2 (PC2). One area is OGTR compliant and two are DAWE Biosecurity compliant. The current laboratory capabilities include molecular biology, immunology, haematology, microscopy, and histology. Analysis of plant and animal tissue samples, wool, parasites, and pathogens is undertaken. Specialised equipment is available such as an automated haematology unit, electrophoresis apparatus with capillary array for genotyping and DNA sequencing, fluorescence-assisted cell sorting, tissue culture incubators and refrigerated incubators. Complimentary to the laboratory areas are two glass houses, a plant drying room, and a workshop for construction of animal testing arenas.


Experiments conducted in these facilities include:

  • Virtual fencing for cattle and sheep
  • Assessment of emotional states in livestock
  • Merino Lifetime Productivity
  • ImmuneDex research: Estimated Breeding Value for Immune Competence/Disease Resistance in cattle and sheep
  • eGrazor: Measuring feed intake on pasture in cattle
  • EweWatch: Monitoring lambing related behaviours in ewes
  • Flystrike vaccine development and other animal health projects
  • Mixed farming system research including dual purpose crop grazing