Eggs are considered to be a healthy, sustainable source of protein, with lower green house gas emissions than most meats. More than half of eggs produced in the UK come from free range systems, and many cage systems are expected to convert to cage-free barn systems in the coming years. However, mortality can be higher and more variable in cage-free systems, potentially inviting negative implications for animal welfare, business profitability and environmental sustainability.
The aim of this project is to use a combination of surveillance and on-farm data collection to better understand the causes of mortality in laying hens in loose housing systems. We will be monitoring hen behaviour and flock health, as well as predation. We will quantify mortality attributable to a range of causes and investigate risk factors for high mortality. We will compare mortality across cage-free systems (barn; free range; organic), and examine the implications for the welfare of birds in each system in the context of the potential welfare-sustainability trade-off.
The successful candidate will be based at the University of Bristol, Langford campus, as part of its large, friendly and supportive animal welfare research community. Behaviour and health data of birds will be collected through direct observation on-farm, and post mortem. Training will be provided as necessary in behavioural observation and the statistical methods required for analysis.
How to apply:
Apply online for this project at PhD Veterinary Sciences. In the funding section of the application form, select ‘Studentship’ as the main source of funding and enter ‘Understanding laying hen mortality’.
The ideal candidate will be a graduate in life sciences or a related field with an interest in the health, welfare and sustainability of production livestock. The candidate will be keen to spend time on-farm, and to learn behavioural data collection and analysis techniques.
- Experience of research.
- Experience in the field of animal behaviour and welfare research.
The start date for the studentship is negotiable, depending on the successful candidate’s availability.
We welcome informal enquiries – these should be directed to [Email Address Removed]