PhD in Animal Behaviour Informatics

Title of PhD: Animal Behaviour Informatics: Automated detection of health and welfare compromises in pigs

Supervisors: Prof I Kyriazakis, Dr P Miller, Dr Ali Alameer

Changes in animal behaviours are a useful aid to detect early signs of compromised health or
poor welfare. Early detection of problems allows timely intervention, mitigates adverse
consequences and improves well-being. On a commercial scale, human observation of the
subtle changes in behaviour that may indicate early-stage abnormal behaviour, poor welfare or health compromises is not possible.

The aim of this studentship is to develop novel methods to detect automatically such behavioural changes in pigs, using inexpensive, non-invasive and scalable technologies, such as video analytics.

The specific aims of the studentship are:
1) Develop computer-based methods for tracking the behaviour of individuals within a group, with or without additional sensors or explicit identification of individual pigs. Video detection methods will be combined with analysis of imprecise and uncertain information to deduce behaviour patterns between pigs.
2) Apply these novel methods to the early detection of health and welfare problems in pig
husbandry. Which problems to focus upon will depend on the student interests.
3) Establish machine learning models that baseline normal behaviours and become further
enriched over time; use advanced anomaly detection methods to identify behavioural changes
occurring within a group of pigs.
4) The student will be given the opportunity to collaborate with the Sponsors to develop a
pipeline to give early warning alerts to identify anomalous individuals or groups of pigs.

Candidates who are UK nationals must be ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to October 2021. Non-UK nationals must also meet this requirement and have settled status or indefinite leave to remain in the UK to be considered eligible.

Salary: SUBSTANTIALLY ENHANCED STUDENT STIPEND for 2021-22 will be £19,000 (including the stipend enhancement by Zoetis).

Closing date: 18/07/2021

Further information can be found here.