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Optimisation of pig diets for slatted- and straw- based housing systems (fully funded studentship)


   Department of Agriculture and Environment

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  Dr Stephen Mansbridge  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Optimisation of pig diets for slatted- and straw- based housing systems   

Primary supervisor: Dr Stephen Mansbridge, [Email Address Removed], Department of Agriculture and Environment.

Non-academic partner: Silcock / John Oldacre Foundation

Project title: Optimisation of pig diets for slatted- and straw- based housing systems   

Project description

Cereal straws are traditional bedding material for pigs housed in European, UK and other production systems that have access to this substrate, providing a manipulatable form of environmental enrichment. Environmental enrichment (particularly straw bedding) is widely supported in the UK, with approximately 68 % of UK pigs now having access to straw. Despite the contribution straw makes to animal welfare through environmental enrichment, estimates of bedding intake suggest weaned pigs are consuming varying amounts from zero up to 234 g/day; potentially increasing to 2.3 kg in sows left unrestricted. The subsequent issues associated with straw bedding intake relate (not exclusively) to reduced nutrient digestibility and a possible risk of mycotoxicosis. Wider implications may include reduced economic performance and increased feed use that may otherwise have been utilised for the growing human population. This PhD project aims to optimise pig diets for both straw-based and slatted (no straw) systems through the evaluation of enzymes and other dietary measures that maximise environmental mitigation, whilst improving zootechnical performance.  

The pig unit at Harper Adams University is a commercial pig production facility designed to conduct high impact research investigating solutions towards improving pig production, nutrition, health and welfare; whilst safeguarding animal, human and environmental health. 

The student is expected to have a good knowledge of farm animal science and animal physiology, biology and biochemistry. The student needs to have good practical abilities with handling and managing pigs. 

The expected start date for the studentship is September 2022. The student will be registered for a PhD at Harper Adams University and based at Harper Adams University, Edgmond, Shropshire, UK. The studentship will cover the current Home tuition fee rate plus a yearly stipend set at the UKRI figure – currently £16,062. International applicants would need to be able to fund the difference between Home and Overseas fees which is currently £10,330 per year with the first year’s fee’s being paid in full before Visa documentation can be issued.

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