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Biosecurity status of Irish dairy farms - assessment and intervention


   School of Veterinary Medicine

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  Dr Conor McAloon  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Background 

Biosecurity is currently a ‘hot topic’ with the roll out of the DAFM National Farmed Animal Biosecurity Strategy. Currently there is a significant knowledge gap regarding the biosecurity of Irish dairy farms and the efficacy of any measures that might be taken to improve farm biosecurity. The aims of this project are to assess biosecurity status and investigate the impact of targeted interventions to improve biosecurity.  A nationally representative sample of dairy farmers will be used to benchmark the current biosecurity standards across Irish dairy farms. Secondly, using national databases, we will select three groups: 1) no assessment/no intervention, 2) biosecurity assessment and 3) biosecurity assessment and intervention. Assessment will involve annual administration of Irish and international (Biocheck) biosecurity surveys. Intervention will involve on-farm delivery of consensual, prioritised recommendations to farmers annually. The herd health/production and economic outcomes of all three groups will be monitored over three years. Ultimately the objective is to determine whether adoption of biosecurity measures following a biosecurity audit impacts herd biosecurity/health/ production and profit.  The successful PhD candidate will work in an international team involving male and female researchers from Teagasc, UCD, Animal Health Ireland, DAFM, ICBF, University of Ghent, and NUI Galway. This team will support the student to develop their existing skills and to learn new research skills with the ultimate aim of writing and publishing peer-reviewed scientific papers and finally their PhD. The student will also have the opportunity to attend and present their research findings at national and international conferences. During their time in this project the student will build up their own professional network, skills and publication record which they will take forward into their future career. 

Requirements 

Candidates should have a first or upper second-class honours degree or M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline (Veterinary Science, Animal or Agricultural Science or similar). Candidates with a veterinary degree or further relevant qualifications, in particular the ECBHM Diploma, will have a significant advantage. The candidate must be proficient in both written and spoken English. A full EU (B) driving licence is required. For applicants whose first language is not English, requirements outlined here.

Award 

The PhD Scholarship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Moorepark and University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin. The student will be based at the Teagasc Research Centre, Fermoy, Ireland and will be registered at UCD (Dublin Campus) working under the supervision of Dr. John Mee (Teagasc) and Dr. Conor McAloon (UCD). The Scholarship will start on the 2nd September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The scholarship funding is €24,000 per annum for four years and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum. 

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