PhD Studentship – Intensive pastoral production systems for beef – impact and value

The project The successful applicant will work as part of a research team and will be predominately based at the Rothamsted Research North Wyke research station in Devon, although some time will be spent at the School of Veterinary Science in Langford near Bristol.

Pasture based beef production systems have been perceived as extensive, inefficient and polluting. Comparisons with intensive indoor production have been made suggesting a significant improvement in efficiency and subsequently reduction in greenhouse gases per kg/product produced.

However these comparisons are not balanced as they do not take into account the carbon cost of concentrate feed or the ecosystem services of pastoral systems such as C-sequestration. Intensive pastoral systems can provide a high level of production of higher value product (vitamin and fatty acid composition). The industry needs clear data on the impact and value of intensive pastoral systems to cement the place of beef production from grass into the road map of global food security. This PhD project will address this by evaluating three different intensive pastoral systems for environmental, production and quality of product parameters.

The work will be carried out using the North Wyke Farm Platform, which provides three hydrologically-isolated farming systems, based on improved sward management by either: a) increased fertilisation; b) introduction of clover; or c) reseeding with deep rooting grasses. All water leaving the fields is collected and automatically analysed. Soil measurements for C-sequestration and meteorological data on each farm will be available as part of existing research at North Wyke. Each farm will carry its own herd of yearling cattle. Animal performance will be measured in addition to methane assessment and final product quality. This approach will give a detailed assessment of the flux of nutrients and level of production for each pastoral system at a level never achieved before.

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Candidate requirements The student should have an animal science, veterinary science or agriculture related degree at a minimum of an upper second class (2:1). Experience of the beef industry in the UK and an interest in all aspects of sustainable livestock production are desirable. Understanding the issues relating to livestock production and environmental pollution are also desirable.

Funding The project has been funded through the ruminant postgraduate studentship programme of the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) which represents the devolved Levy boards of the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX), Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS). The award will fund a three year PhD with an annual stipend of £12,500 and covers all University registration and bench fees.

How to apply To apply please go to

In the Programme List select ‘Veterinary Science (PhD)’

Please enter details of the studentship in the Research Details section of the form.

Contacts For further information regarding this PhD please contact Dr Michael Lee e-mail Tel. 0117 9289471.

Deadline for applications The closing date for applications is 31st July with Interviews planned for the week commencing 12th August. The successful candidate will be expected to start on 1st October 2013.

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