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Impact of sward type (including multispecies swards) and management system on animal performance, animal health and product quality

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  • Full or part time
    Dr T Boland
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description


Devenish is a farming and food company, delivering sustainable and innovative nutritional products and solutions for the feed industry, the food industry and for human health.

The UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science is the only academic institution in Ireland that delivers education and research on the complete food chain from initial on-farm production through processing to final consumption by the consumer. The School supports the agri-food industry in Ireland by educating students to become industry leaders and by conducting world class research.

This PhD project is part of the EU2020 project HeartLand (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Rural development: Training network for LAND management), an Innovative Training Network of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.


Ruminants convert biomass unsuitable for direct human consumption into valuable food. While grazing they can also provide a wide range of other ecosystem services, such as enhancing biodiversity, increasing carbon sequestration, and water regulation. However, ruminant farming is also associated with land use change (especially deforestation), greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of soils and water, biodiversity loss, and non-communicable diseases. Therefore, we need to re-think the way we keep farm animals, especially ruminants, to address the challenges in livestock production, while providing a wider range of goods and services to society, including healthy food.

The EU HeartLand project aims to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative PhD graduates to investigate how to create economically and environmentally sustainable livestock products of enhanced nutritional value through pasture-based production systems. HeartLand will explore and integrate the relationships between soil, sward, animal, farm management, environment and ultimately human health. The HeartLand project will be recruiting 5 PhD candidates to develop their projects in the domains of soil biology, grassland sciences and sward composition, animal nutrition and performance, farming systems and modelling, and environmental sciences.

This PhD project corresponds to the domains of farm landscape ecology and multi-species swards. The project will be developed by Agri-Environmental researchers at University College Dublin and at Devenish Nutrition (Ireland).


A PhD candidate who is familiar with grass-based livestock production systems will engage in a large-scale system experiment to investigate the effect of multispecies swards on animal performance. The research will have the aim to i) explore the effect of grazing multispecies swards on ewe, lamb and beef cattle performance; ii) quantify the effects of the multispecies swards on the enteric methane emissions and parasite burden of the grazing livestock; and iii) investigate the effect of multispecies swards on the quality of the meat produced from the animals in this experiment.

This research project will involve desk work, such as reviewing literature and the writing of scientific papers. It will also involve the execution of a large-scale systems study and the subsequent laboratory studies of the samples obtained and statistical analysis of the data collected.


For this interdisciplinary project, we are looking for an enthusiastic results-driven person with an appropriate degree in agricultural, animal, environmental or other biological science who is interested in undertaking research in agricultural ecology and agronomy. Candidates must have excellent verbal and written English, communicate efficiently and effectively and excel in problem solving. Candidates should also have research experience and be familiar with data management and analysis, be a team-player and highly effective in time and project planning.

Prerequisites for application subject to the Innovative Training Network of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions:
• Degree in agricultural, animal, environmental or other biological science
• Your ‘main activity’ has not been in the Republic of Ireland for more than 12 out of the last 36 months (a Marie Curie stipulation)
• Be available and willing to travel


• PhD position within the School of Agriculture and Food Science at University College Dublin for 48 months
• A job in an international setting with varied work and plenty of opportunities for personal development in a pleasant and open working environment.
• The gross salary will be of € 2,325 per month.
• Good training and education opportunities
• Expected starting date: 6th January 2020


For questions about this vacancy you can contact Prof. Tommy Boland (Mail: [Email Address Removed]) or Dr. Jean Kennedy (Mail: [Email Address Removed]).


Send your CV and a short motivation letter to [Email Address Removed]

Application closing date is: Friday 8th November 2019 at 5pm.

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