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Implication of rate of starch digestion and fibre degradation on broiler chicken growth performance when fed wheat-based diets PhD Studentship (36 months funding)

Animal Production, Welfare & Veterinary Sciences

Location:  Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB
Salary:  As per advert
Post Type:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours GMT on Wednesday 19 February 2020
Interview Date:  To be confirmed
Reference:  RD-PHD-45VP-R


This project aims to characterize the chemical composition and in particular the fibre composition and nutrient availability of different wheat cultivar samples for broiler chickens. The effect of chemical composition, fibre degrading enzymes and functional fibres on bird growth, rate of starch digestion, fibre degradation and nutrient availability will be studied.


Feed constitutes nearly 70 per cent of total production cost in poultry and pig production. Wheat is the most used raw material in poultry diets in North West Europe, Canada and Australasia. Wheat is often the only cereal used in broiler feed formulations, thus the nutritional value of wheat and variation in its feeding quality are commercially important.

The project aims to understand differences in growth performance of broiler chickens fed different wheat cultivar samples and their response to fibre degrading enzymes and functional fibres. The hypothesis is that:

1. There are differences in growth performance that not necessarily relate to the determined available nutrient content of wheat; 

2. The relative improvement in growth performance due to enzyme / functional fibres supplementation is not predicted by available nutrient content of the individual wheat samples.

The objective is to identify the major digestive physiology variables that explain these differences. For example, rate of starch digestion of different wheat samples, caecal fibre degradation/fermentation, gastrointestinal development and reflux, gene expression of satiety factors etc.

The variability in the chemical composition and nutrient bio-availability of wheat samples will also be determined. Digestibility and performance studies will be employed to study the effect of enzymes and wheat cultivars. The main goal of the project is to produce recommendations for the industry on the use of enzymes and functional fibres in wheat-based broiler diets with appropriate inclusion levels.

Applications should be made through the HAU website: where further details of the project can also be found.

Further information can be found on the HAU website at and on the research training provided and PhD progression requirements in the Postgraduate Research Students Handbook at:

For informal enquiries on general aspects of research degrees at HAU, applicants may contact Mrs Viv Slann, Research Students Administrator ( For informal enquiries on the project, applicants may contact the Director of Studies, Dr Vasil Pirgozliev, through the staff directory:

The studentship includes tuition and bench fees and a tax-free stipend at the RCUK 2020-2021 rate.  This rate is not yet published but the rate for 2019-2020 is £15,009. This 3 year PhD opportunity is underpinned by funding from AB Vista Feed Ingredients and Harper Adams University. The studentship is funded to pay the tuition and fees of UK nationals or EU nationals

All applicants must normally have a minimum of an upper second class UK honours degree, or equivalent, in agriculture, animal sciences or a relation biological degree. Further research experience or a master’s degree is preferable.  The student is expected to have a good knowledge of farm animal science and animal physiology, biology and biochemistry.  The student needs to have good practical abilities with handling and managing livestock.

A minimum level of competency in English is required. Where necessary, applicants need to be classed as an overall IELTS grade 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component.  Please see the following link with regard to English Language requirements:

The expected start date for the studentship is 28 September 2020. The student will be registered for a PhD at Harper Adams University and based at the National Institute of Poultry Husbandry at Harper Adams University, Edgmond, Shropshire. 

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Harper Adams University is one of the premier UK Higher Education Institutions focused on the land-based and food supply chain sector.

With 2800 undergraduate students, plus those completing postgraduate, research and CPD programmes, Harper Adams is the UK's largest single provider of higher education for these subjects.  Programmes fall into eleven broad subject areas – but none operate in isolation. Community and collaboration are key at Harper Adams, meaning everyone, including staff, students and industry partners, benefits from a close network of knowledge and opportunity exchange

Situated in Shropshire, the campus and the surrounding area provide an excellent working and living environment for staff and students alike.

Harper Adams is consistently positioned highly in a range of national ratings, performance measures and league tables. Its current graduate employment rate is 98% (the joint top rating in England) and student satisfaction stands at 93% (National Student Survey 2017).

Harper Adams is ranked as the UK’s Best Modern University by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018; was named University of the Year in the 2016 and 2017 Whatuni Student Choice Awards and holds a Gold (highest level) award from the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework.

In 2018 Harper Adams University will receive the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education, part of the UK honours system.

Applied research is at the heart of the university’s activity, with the work of a thriving academic community underpinning both teaching and work with the industries allied to Harper. The 2014 Government Research Excellence Framework rated all of the university’s research as “of international quality”, and more than half was deemed “world leading” or “internationally excellent”. 



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