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Optimisation of pig diets for slatted- and straw- based housing systems (fully funded studentship)

Agriculture & Environment

Location:  Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB
Post Type:  Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed Term - 36 Months
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Sunday 28 August 2022
Reference:  RD-PHD-R1-SM-22

Optimisation of pig diets for slatted- and straw- based housing systems     

Primary supervisor: Dr Stephen Mansbridge,, Department of Agriculture and Environment.

Non-academic partner: Silcock / John Oldacre Foundation

Project title: Optimisation of pig diets for slatted- and straw- based housing systems     

Project description

Cereal straws are traditional bedding material for pigs housed in European, UK and other production systems that have access to this substrate, providing a manipulatable form of environmental enrichment. Environmental enrichment (particularly straw bedding) is widely supported in the UK, with approximately 68 % of UK pigs now having access to straw. Despite the contribution straw makes to animal welfare through environmental enrichment, estimates of bedding intake suggest weaned pigs are consuming varying amounts from zero up to 234 g/day; potentially increasing to 2.3 kg in sows left unrestricted. The subsequent issues associated with straw bedding intake relate (not exclusively) to reduced nutrient digestibility and a possible risk of mycotoxicosis. Wider implications may include reduced economic performance and increased feed use that may otherwise have been utilised for the growing human population. This PhD project aims to optimise pig diets for both straw-based and slatted (no straw) systems through the evaluation of enzymes and other dietary measures that maximise environmental mitigation, whilst improving zootechnical performance.   

The pig unit at Harper Adams University is a commercial pig production facility designed to conduct high impact research investigating solutions towards improving pig production, nutrition, health and welfare; whilst safeguarding animal, human and environmental health. 

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 pigs. 

The expected start date for the studentship is September 2022. The student will be registered for a PhD at Harper Adams University and based at Harper Adams University, Edgmond, Shropshire, UK.  The studentship will cover the current Home tuition fee rate plus a yearly stipend set at the UKRI figure – currently £16,062. International applicants would need to be able to fund the difference between Home and Overseas fees which is currently £10,330 per year with the first year’s fee’s being paid in full before Visa documentation can be issued.

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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 around 2,800 undergraduate students, plus those completing postgraduate, research and CPD programmes, Harper Adams University 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. The University has been the highest performing modern university in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for the last four years, climbing to 17th place in the overall league table. In the 2020 guide Harper Adams was named Modern University of the Year and runner-up University of the Year. In the 2019 Whatuni? Student Choice Awards, based on student reviews, Harper Adams won the Student Support category for the fifth time – the only university to have taken the title since the awards began - and won the category for best job prospects for a fourth year running. In the 2020 QS World Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry published in March 2020, Harper Adams was ranked first in the UK for academic reputation and second in the world for its reputation with employers.

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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