PhD Studentship Design, Specification and Management of Premium Housing for Laying Hens

Faculty of Medical and Veterinary Sciences

The project

The aim of this project is to conduct a survey of current management practices and housing designs and assess their impact on the welfare of laying hens kept on UK laying hen farms. Appropriate measures of welfare will be selected based on a thorough literature review. Experience gained in the first part of the study will lead to a proposal for the inclusion of new resources, management practices or housing designs, or the modification of existing resources and practices designed to improve the welfare of laying hens in the near future. The feasibility of the proposed changes will be discussed with industry stakeholders, and a shortlist of changes will be selected for experimental trials. In the second part of the study, the selected changes will be trialled on commercial farms that have agreed to participate in this study. A fully replicated experiment will be conducted to establish whether the new resources lead to improvements in laying hen welfare in comparison with baseline data and with control farms. An important part of the PhD will be to explore the economic, social and consumer perceptions relating to the trialled changes, and to establish the farmers’ views. 

Candidate requirements

The student will require strong upper second class degree (2:1) in a relevant subject (e.g. animal science, behaviour or veterinary science), and a demonstrable interest in animal welfare. The student will be expected to form excellent working relationships with rearing and laying hen producers and to understand the factors that drive their businesses. A good understanding of consumers’ concerns relating to laying hen welfare is also important, and the student will be expected to deepen their knowledge of animal welfare science during the PhD. Practical skills and familiarity with experimental statistical techniques and experimental design is essential. Excellent communication skills will be required to write scientific papers, report to the industry sponsor, and to participate in public engagement and marketing activities.

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4 years funding is provided by Noble Foods which will cover the university tuition fee for UK/EU candidates and an annual stipend of £14,000 per annum. International students from outside of the EU would be considered but would be required to fund the difference between the Home and Overseas fee.

How to apply: Please make an online application for this project by clicking the APPLY button below. Please select ‘Faculty of Medical and Veterinary Sciences’ and then ‘Veterinary Science (PhD) (4yr) and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form.

Contacts: For further information please contact: Professor Christine Nicol  email:

Deadline for applications: Position open until 16 October 2013

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