25. June 2020

Handing over the keys at Früebüel

The renovation and extension of Früebüel (Canton of Zug) research station has been completed. AgroVet–Strickhof now has four state-of-the-art research and higher education facilities for the agricultural sciences.

Despite the coronavirus lockdown, the renovation and extension of Früebüel research station in Walchwil (Canton of Zug) was completed nearly on schedule. AgroVet–Strickhof, a research cooperative supported by ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and Strickhof, now has state-of-the-art research and higher education facilities at its four locations.

People seeking relaxation on the Zugerberg mountain in Switzerland will have already noticed it: there have been big changes at Früebüel, a former farm. AgroVet–Strickhof, a platform for research and higher education in agriculture, joined forces with ETH Zurich to renovate and expand its barns, operational buildings and wild animal enclosures over the past two years. Now, almost three years after obtaining building permission from the Canton of Zug, the construction work is complete.

Früebüel’s new facilities will be used for research on breeding cattle, suckler cows, sheep and fallow deer. The expanded AgroVet–Strickhof location is operated by cooperation partner Strickhof. At 1,000 metres above sea level, Früebüel is particularly suited to investigating specific issues connected with farming operations in the Alps and alpine foothills. In the summer, the animals are moved to graze on Alp Weissenstein on the Albula Pass (Canton of Graubünden), which is also an AgroVet–Strickhof research location.

Research here is conducted primarily by AgroVet–Strickhof’s cooperation partners, especially ETH professors in the animal sciences, plant ecology and grassland sciences. Those in the latter department have been operating a measurement station at Früebüel since 2005; one project records material flows including greenhouse gases from grassland subjected to medium-intensity use.

Location allows for more intense research

“We’re thrilled to be able to continue and expand our research in this modern and spacious facility,” says Melissa Terranova, AgroVet–Strickhof’s Head of Research since 1 April 2020. “It has everything we need to drive livestock research in Switzerland.” Thanks to the extension of the location, she continues, research can continue at a greater intensity.

Ulrich Weidmann, Vice President for Infrastructure at ETH Zurich, is also happy about the completion of construction. “We’re delighted to be finished with this challenging project,” he says, “which marks the end of the extension programme for the AgroVet–Strickhof cooperative. Now we can hand over operations of this location to the AgroVet–Strickhof management team.”

ETH’s Real Estate Management department was in charge of planning and implementing the construction work. Planning and building costs amounted to about 13 million Swiss francs.

Major support from the local commune and canton

“I wish to thank the commune of Walchwil, the government and administration of the Canton of Zug, and the associations involved for their excellent cooperation,” Weidmann continues. “Without their terrific support, we would never have been able to bring Früebüel up to the standard necessary for first-class research.”

New wildlife enclosures and modernised labs

Most of the construction consisted of renovation and extension work: a freestall for suckler cows was added to an old barn and the former dairy barn was turned into a sheep barn. Modernisation and extension efforts also focused on the laboratory infrastructure so that researchers can process and analyse samples directly on site. A winter shelter with spacious pens was built for fallow deer, as well as an outbuilding with a fire brigade depot “Berg” for the commune of Walchwil.

Ecological offsets on a 1:1 scale

ETH Zurich provided ecological enhancements on the Früebüel site to offset the space enclosed by the new pens. For example, it applied extensification to wetlands and planted new hedges and ecologically diverse border zones. In addition, 300 metres of forest border were extensified. All of these connecting elements serve as a corridor for wild animals and add up to a total of 4.5 hectares.

Research focuses on livestock

“Research here focuses clearly on livestock science and its place in sustainable agriculture that has been adapted to its location,” explains Susanne Ulbrich, Professor of Animal Physiology at ETH Zurich. For example, the researchers investigate how feeding the animals impacts their metabolism, testing Schwarzbraunes Bergschaf sheep and Swiss Original Braunvieh suckler cows.

Ulbrich herself is heading a study on roe deer. These ungulates are only rarely kept and studied in enclosures. She is particularly interested in the roe deer’s phenomenon of embryonic diapause, or delayed implantation. “If we knew more about this special process, we would be better positioned to understand fundamental development processes in livestock,” Ulbrich explains. “We investigate what embryos need for healthy development. We’re also looking for new parameters that will differentiate healthy stress from the type of stress that harms the animals.” In addition to the physiological studies, the researchers conduct behavioural studies as well.

All studies with animals are carried out in compliance with strict animal welfare guidelines. Every study first has to be approved by the canton’s veterinary office.

Unique approach

Terranova points out that the higher education and research that AgroVet–Strickhof conducts at Früebüel is of national and international interest: “Besides AgroVet–Strickhof, Switzerland has neither university-level education nor research that is directly connected with career training and agricultural practice. This one-of-a-kind collaboration thus plays a crucial role,” she says.

Open days in 2021

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, AgroVet–Strickhof will be unable to celebrate the opening of the Früebüel facilities this year. Currently, plans are to officially open the location as part of an open day in 2021, but the exact date is still to be determined.

Further information

Background https://www.agrovet-strickhof.ch/standorte/fruebuel-walchwil-zg

Project https://www.agrovet-strickhof.ch/ueber-uns/geschichte/geschichte-projekt-fruebuel


For research on the Früebüel and generally AgroVet-Strickhof:

Melissa Terranova, Head of Research AgroVet-Strickhof; Tel.: +41 52 354 91 37, Mail: melissa-terranova@ethz.ch

About the construction:

Bianca Gasser, Head of Communications, Real Estate Department ETH Zurich; Tel.: +41 44 633 82 44, Mail: bianca-gasser@ethz.ch

19. March 2020


Dear AgroVet-Strickhof users

Due to the rules set by the Federal Council based on the current developments, ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and Strickhof have decided to switch to emergency operation from Tuesday, 17 March. This also has consequences for the operation of AgroVet-Strickhof. The following rules apply immediately:

  • All buildings are only accessible with the badge
  • On the area may be present only people who must be here (animal care, ongoing trials)
  • The group or team leaders decide which selected persons may stay on site; everyone else should stay at home.
  • Anyone who is required to be on site must comply the hygiene measures from the BAG (personal hygiene measures, distance between each other, …)
  • Physical contact must be reduced to a minimum, please use Skype or Zoom for meetings.
  • From ETH side, all non-mandatory laboratory analysis should be postponed until the resumption of normal operation (provisionally planned for the end of May)
  • For your information: the facility management staff is only occasionally on site and the company paramedics are no longer on duty (due to home office at Strickhof)
  • All telephones in the EHB (office and laboratory building) that are activated for external calls can now be forwarded to private Swiss telephone numbers (mobile and fixed network)

The declared goal is to reduce the spread, this protecting the staff of the A+V-Betrieb (Farm team), as they have to ensure the care of the animals!

The Research management will be represented by one person per day to assist in emergencies and to receive deliveries.

  • Monday: Raphael Jendly, 052 354 92 03
  • Tuesday: Hans-Ruedi Wettstein, 052 354 91 56
  • Wednesday: Susanne Meese, 052 354 91 60
  • Thursday: Melissa Terranova, 052 354 91 37
  • Friday: Sergei Amelchanka, 052 354 92 02

We will keep you updated.

Stay healthy! Sincerely yours

Research management team

6. February 2020

Tier&Technik 2020 - 20th International Trade Fair for farm-animal husbandry, agricultural production, special crops and agricultural engineering

At this year's trade fair from 20th to 23th 2.2020 you will find know-how, top-class animal exhibitions and a wide range of products for the modern agriculture. AgroVet-Strickhof will also be there, visit us at our stand together with Strickhof Lindau 1.0.17.

Click here for the link: https://www.tierundtechnik.ch/de/

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6. February 2020

AgroVet-Strickhof - not only research and education but also sporty challenges in daily life

On January 29th 2020, 16 sportsmen and women started again at 7 pm. Team members came from seven nations, a real international sport event under the coaching of Dani Schär! The matches took place in doubles and then in singles. The players showed their enthusiasm in the knock-out round and at the end there was an exciting final between ETH and Strickhof employees.

23. August 2019

Suisse Tier - National Trade Fair for Farm Animal Husbandry

At Suisse Tier from 22 to 24 November 2019 you will meet leading suppliers and experts from the entire Swiss livestock industry. AgroVet-Strickhof will be there, visit us at our stand. Link to the Suisse Tier Homepage

6. June 2019

First AgroVet-Strickhof Conference

As already announced in November 2018, the first AgroVet-Strickhof conference will take place on 1 July 2019. Learn more about the current and planned research work and exchange ideas with the authors and researchers in personal conversations.

When? 1 July 2019 from 09:00 to 16:00 o'clock

Where? In the Forum at the AgroVet-Strickhof, Eschikon 27 in 8315 Lindau

You can find the program here: PDF (GERMAN)

Click here to register

190529 Flyer Avs Tagung Page 1
19. March 2019

Agriculture of the Future – digital and sustainable?

AgriTech Day

AgriTech Day is a field day for young and old. Learn how modern science and technology can lead to sustainable solutions for Swiss agriculture. Exciting projects, demonstrations, and presentations await you on the fields in Eschikon. By participating, you can gain surprising insights from agricultural research and find out how resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly agriculture of tomorrow can look. Come and exchange ideas with our researchers!

Saturday, 25 May 2019
10:00 - 17:00
ETH-Research Station for Plant Sciences, Strickhof & AgroVet-Strickhof
Eschikon 27, 8315 Lindau


Eth Fel Image Report

This innovative event is a collaboration of ETH Zurich, Strickhof and AgroVet-Strickhof.

15. February 2019

More environmentally friendly cows

Bovines eat a lot of soya and are the big emitters of greenhouse gases and the air pollutant ammonia. New feed additives for ruminants and an innovative cow toilet will help. >> open Article in PDF

190215 Umweltfreundlichere Kuehe
25. January 2019

Spring Conference 2019 «Big Data and Smart Livestock Farming»

On Tuesday 16 April 2019, the spring Conference of the Swiss Association of Animal Sciences (SAAS) will take place at AgroVet-Strickhof in Lindau. The topic of the conference will be «Big Data and Smart Livestock Farming». In addition to the lectures on the conference topic, there will be poster presentations on current research work in the field of animal sciences. Further information regarding the conference and the registration of poster presentations can be found on the SAAS website: http://www.svt-assa.ch/svt-tagungen.html

5. December 2018

«Young and Beef Cattle Barn AgroVet-Strickhof» opening and stabling

October 4th 2018 not only promised to be a sunny day, it was a milestone. The employees of the Eschikon Campus were able to explore the new young and beef cattle barn. Following the guided tour, there were many exciting talks and discussions about possible projects and new goals during an aperitif. But before that, Joël Bérard, Head of Research AgroVet-Strickhof, welcomed the guests from research, education and service. "AgroVet-Strickhof is like a living creature that constantly re-shapes and thrives to meet the needs of education, research and production," says Bérard. Andreas Rüsch, Strickhof Vice Director and Head of Agricultural Advisory Service, was also very pleased and thanked all those who were involved for their commitment on behalf of the Strickhof management in order to reach a successful finalization.

AgroVet-Strickhof celebrated its opening in September 2017, since then was repeatedly filed and screwed to other stables and animal shelters, so that a staggered commissioning could take place. Because research and education cannot wait. Therefore, the students could already use the existing possibilities extensively. Due to the successful completion of the last major construction phase, another milestone has been achieved, but this did not always seem so certain. Without the great commitment of Hanspeter Renfer, Head of Farm Operation, who literally used screws and fasteners at the very last minute, this would not have been possible. Therefore, it was also a special moment for him to guide the invited guests through his new barn and explain the group housing in the deep litter system as well as the high and low box system. Further, he was able to lend the special construction measures to the eager listeners, because this stable is built to the standards of an experimental animal husbandry. Moreover, there are individually programmable gates for the beef cattle, resulting in monitoring the feed intake. In addition to the needs of agricultural production, this barn must also help scientists to answer their research questions.

Already on October 8th, 2018, the first animals moved into their new home and quickly found their way into their new environment. Within a short time the animals learned to find their own feeding place and to open the gates with ease. The first project in the new stable started at the end of October. The doctoral thesis of Magdalena Kurrig (ETH Zurich) will investigate possible feeding strategies for the environmentally friendly and efficient production of high-quality beef under Swiss production conditions. These and other questions will be clarified at the new AgroVet-Strickhof Competence Center in order to contribute to livestock research.

>> Further information on the Young and Beef Cattle Barn

Pictures and Impressions

2. November 2018

Save the date July 1st 2019

1st AgroVet-Strickhof Conference

Presentation of the research activities carried out in 2018

1st July 2019 from 09:00 - 16:00 o'clock at Forum, Eschikon 27, 8315 Lindau

>> PDF

190701 Agrovet Strickhof Save The Date En
3. October 2018

Visit the «AgroVet-Strickhof» young cattle and cattle fattening stable and opening aperitif

Thursday, 4 October 2018, 17:30 o'clock

181004 Eroeffnung Jrs Einladung
27. August 2018

3sat informed about AgroVet-Strickhof, the special farm

On Monday, 27th August 2018 3sat informed 3sat within the program «nano» about AgroVet-Strickhof in German.

This program gives a good overview about the work and the goals by AgroVet-Strickhof.

>> Link to the video in German

180827 Intro 3Sat Nano
1. August 2018

Susanne Meese new employee since August 2018

Beginning August 2018 started Susanne Meese her activity as Projekt Leader by AgroVet-Strickhof, Head Research and Team.

We cordially welcome Susanne Meese in our team and we look forward to the collaboration.

>> Further Information

17. June 2018

Start of construction on Früebüel in July 2018

After the building application was approved end of 2017 the construction work will start in July 2018.

Further Information

16. August 2017

"Puure Höck" farmers meeting

On 16.08.2017 the Zürcher Bauernverband (Zurich association of farmers) held the fourth farmers meeting of this anniversary year. Almost 500 farmers and their families used the opportunity to view the new facilities at AgroVet-Strickhof.

Prof. Michael Kreuzer, Institut für Agrarwissenschaften der ETH ZürichETH Zürich, presented AgroVet-Strickhof from a research perspective. 

For more information please visit: Zürcher Bauer vom 18.08.2017 (in German)

170816A Impression Puure Hoeck Haessig 1024
28. February 2017

Research award for Hubert Pausch

Dr. Hubert Pausch, Assistant Professor for Animal Genomics at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences, has received a research award from the H. Wilhelm Schaumann foundation.


Emergency operation at AgroVet-Strickhof.

Read article

Tier&Technik 2020

Tier & Technik 2020 - 20th International Trade Fair for farm-animal husbandry, agricultural production, special crops and agricultural engineering.

Read Article

AgroVet-Strickhof: Badminton-Tournament

AgroVet-Strickhof - not only research and education but also sporty challenges in daily life.

Read Article

Suisse Tier - National Trade Fair for Farm Animal Husbandry

At Suisse Tier from 22 to 24 November 2019 you will meet leading suppliers and experts from the entire Swiss livestock industry. AgroVet-Strickhof will be there, visit us at our stand. Link to the Suisse Tier Homepage