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PhD Swine Welfare - the influence of early life management practices towards the development of resilience characteristics in pigs

Project Description

Research area: The focus of this work is to determine the contribution of specific early life management practices towards the development of resilience characteristics in pigs, and the relationship to pig welfare. The chosen candidate will lead scientific investigation into understanding the separate and interactive effects of a) early-life stressors as experienced at weaning, and b) targeted management practices given in the lactation environment, to influence the behavioural adaptatiation of the pig, modulation of stress response and gut health, including investigation of the relationship between gut health and behavioural development in the pig. The PhD candidate will benefit from the opportunity to work with collaborators at the University of Saskatchewan and the Prairie Swine Centre, Canada.

The research conducted during this PhD will contribute to a larger body of work investigating the causal factors behind the development of specific welfare problems, and to understand the inputs required for commercially viable production environments that can support higher welfare.

This work forms part of an NSERC supported, five-year research collaboration, between the University of Saskatchewan, several academic collaborators, and 14 industry partners, to advance understanding on several areas of importance to improving the welfare of farmed swine. The candidate will benefit from working within this active research environment, and connecting research findings to application with stakeholders. A summary of this research program can be found here.

Duties: Manage the research project, including protocol development, data collection, statistical analysis, thesis and scientific publication of results, presentation of results at scientific meetings, and knowledge transfer to stakeholders. The successful candidate will be required to work closely with research collaborators.

Eligibility: An MSc in field of applied ethology, animal welfare, animal science, comparative psychology, zoology, veterinary medicine or related discipline (Minimum grade average 70%); a valid driver’s license.

Candidate skills: Essential - A strong work ethic, excellent written and oral communication skills, creativity in thinking, initiative and problem solving skills, the ability to think and work independently and also within a team. Experience with ethology, welfare assessment, laboratory analytical skills and statistical knowledge are desirable. Knowledge of pigs, pig production and gut health are not essential, but considered an asset.

A successful application to the College of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Saskatchewan will be required. Information on College admission requirements can be found at: Learn more about the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at:

For further information about this position, & to apply please contact Dr. Yolande Seddon:
E-mail: ; Telephone: +1-306-966-7151
Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada,

Applications: Please submit a current CV, academic transcripts, a one-page cover letter outlining your motivation for the position, and the contact details of two references to Dr. Yolande Seddon, no later than 20th May 2019. E-mail submissions, please include in the e-mail subject: PhD Early Life. Review of applications will begin upon receipt and applicants will be contacted for an interview.

Funding Notes

Student stipend fully funded, three years

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