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  Precision feeding strategies for finisher pigs

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

  Dr Amy Taylor  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The School of Biology invites applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2024/25. This opportunity is open to candidates who have the means to self fund their studies or who have a sponsor who will cover this cost. 

Nutrient recommendations for pigs need to be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure diets are meeting the requirements to support optimal growth performance. Traditionally nutrient requirements for pigs have been based on a summary of empirical evidence, however when meeting the nutrient requirements of a population of pigs, nutrient levels that do not meet requirements will reduce performance, whereas pigs in which nutrients are offered in excess will exhibit near optimal performance. Therefore nutrients, are often provided to satisfy the requirements of the most demanding pigs in the population to obtain optimal growth performance (Hauschild et al., 2010). As a result, pigs often receive more nutrients than they need, increasing nutrient output. Applying precision feeding practices that allows feed to be provided to pigs on a smaller group or individual basis with the correct nutrient composition to meet requirements for a particular stage of growth can have huge environmental benefits by avoiding nutrient oversupply and thus reducing nutrient excretion.

The project will be carried out at the National Pig Centre (NPC). The NPC was developed in partnership between the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and the University of Leeds and is the UK’s largest and most advanced facility for research into pig nutrition, behaviour, welfare & health, and production systems. The centre provides access to commercial-scale pig management systems and cutting-edge smart agri-system technologies, including the pig performance NEDAP Prosense feed and weigh systems for individual pig data collection, allowing high-level insights into animal nutrition and performance. It is now estimated that feed costs represent over 70% of the cost of pig production (AHDB, 2022). Using pig performance feed systems to implement precision feeding may help to reduce the cost of feeding whilst reducing nutrient output and thus impacts on the environment. 

The objective of this project is to formulate diets that nearer meet the requirements of finisher pigs, on a smaller group or individual basis, in order to maximise performance, reduce the cost of feeding and reduce nutrient output. The student will gain hands on experience of pig production, as well as developing skills in designing experimental research trials, diet formulation, nutrient digestibility analysis, and advanced statistical analysis and interpretation of results. 


Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22. 

How to apply

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable)
  • Evidence of funding

To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert

For information about the application process please contact the Faculty Admissions Team:


Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4) Environmental Sciences (13) Food Sciences (15) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This project is open to applicants who have the funding to support their own studies or who have a sponsor who will cover these costs.


AHDB. 2022. Pork cost of production
Hauschild, L.; Pomar, C.; Lovatto, P. A. 2010. Systematic comparison of the empirical and factorial methods used to estimate the nutrient requirements of growing pigs. Animal, 4:5,714–723

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