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FULLY FUNDED PHD: Adopting Precision Livestock Farming technologies to improve small ruminant management and welfare in grazing systems

College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences

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Dr N Jonsson , Dr C Morgan-Davies , Dr F Kenyon , Dr Ann McLaren No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project


Precision livestock farming (PLF) technologies have been widely adopted in the management of high-value animals (e.g. dairy cattle) and many commercial companies have already developed PLF applications for industrialized farming such as those associated with pig and poultry production.

However, the development of PLF technologies for livestock species deemed to have lower individual/economic value, as in the case of small ruminants (particularly those found within grazing systems) has been slow. This is despite the significant advantages that could be achieved by applying these technologies to improve both management and welfare.

Previous studies have identified several benefits of using PLF approaches within extensive sheep systems, but the overall number of studies associated with small ruminants, to date, have been limited. With farmers now looking to make improvements to their flock management, in areas such as efficiency, labour-use, performance and welfare, to name just a few, there has been a growing interest in the development of suitable PLF technologies to address these.

As a result, this PhD will investigate the use of different PLF technologies with the main aim of improving management and welfare in sheep grazing systems.

This PhD studentship will work within the large, multi-partner, EU-funded project called ‘TechCare’ and will identify and test PLF technologies that could be used for monitoring/improving performance, health and welfare in different sheep grazing systems. A selection of these technologies will be tested in-situ on research farms in Scotland, to identify and evaluate, within a flock environment, their potential and suitability for addressing different management and welfare aspects.

It’s an exciting opportunity to be involved in a large European project, taking a multi-actor and interdisciplinary approach to improve the management and welfare of small ruminants in grazing systems using PLF technologies.

The ideal students would have a background in agriculture or animal science, with a strong interest in the use of sensor or digital technology.

The successful student will work with the Hill & Mountain Research Centre team at SRUC, and the Moredun Research Institute, and will be registered at the University of Glasgow.


We are seeking a motivated student, who is confident working with animals and technology, and with people from different backgrounds, with some previous experience of research (such as completing an undergraduate student project).

Students should have a BSc 2:1 degree (or equivalent) in a biological subject such as animal science or agriculture, with a strong interest in sensors and/or technology.

A postgraduate MSc qualification would be desirable but is not essential.

Interest in technology and data handling, with evidence of mathematical competency and capability is essential, and a desire to make a practical difference to animal management on farm, through the use of novel approaches is important.

A full UK/EU current driving licence is essential. Driver must be 21 years of age or older.


Funding Notes

Dr Claire Morgan-Davies, [Email Address Removed]

UKRI recommended stipend for 2020/21 is £15,285.

The student will be based at the SRUC Hill and Mountain Research Centre at Crianlarich, and will be expected to travel to other sites (mostly in Edinburgh) for some aspects of the practical work. These are likely to include some time spent at the Moredun Research Institute, and the potential to spend a short study period overseas in one of our partner institutions.

3.5 years

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