PhD – Animal-based indicators for a Precision-Livestock Farming approach to improving welfare

Although the welfare of small ruminants (sheep and goats) is often perceived to be good, in reality these species are vulnerable to welfare challenges and risks as with other farmed species. In extensively managed systems, which can provide behavioural freedoms, sheep and goats may be frequently unobserved, and exposed to the risks of variable food and water supply, threats from predation or other fear-eliciting stimuli and may experience untreated disease or injury. Often these animals are managed under conditions where daily human observation and individualised care is very challenging, and thus they are the ideal species to be managed using sensor and other PLF technologies to improve welfare.

This PhD studentship will work within a large, multi-partner, EU-funded project ‘TechCare’ to identify welfare risks for small ruminants and to determine the opportunities to manage and improve sheep and goat welfare through the use of PLF. We will use behaviour and other welfare indicators to assess and validate the utility of different PLF approaches to manage aspects of animal welfare, and work with the wider team to implement practical approaches to improve welfare management for this sector.

The studentship is an exciting opportunity to be involved in a large European project, taking a multi-actor and interdisciplinary approach to improving the welfare of farmed small ruminants. The ideal students would have a background in animal welfare, animal behaviour, animal science, veterinary medicine or agriculture, and an interest in the use of sensor technology or practical applications to improve animal welfare.

Salary: £15,285 per annum stipend

Closing date: 31/07/2020

Further information can be found here.