Funded PhD Studentship: Reducing Lamb Mortality by Enhancing Placental Efficiency

Harper Adams
July 24, 2024
Offerd Salary:£19,237
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Fixed Term
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
Ref info:N/A
Funded PhD Studentship: Reducing Lamb Mortality by Enhancing Placental


Animal Health, Behaviour & Welfare Location: Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB

Salary: As per advert Post Type: Full Time Contract Type: Fixed Term - 36 Months Closing Date: 23.59 hours BST on Wednesday 24 July 2024 Reference: RD-PHD-24-CK-R1-MH

Title: Reducing Lamb Mortality by Enhancing Placental Efficiency

Primary Supervisor: Dr Claire Kershaw

Additional Supervisors: Dr Robert Wilkinson, Nicky Naylor and Dr Sarah Morgan

Start Date: 1st October 2024

Interview date : 6th August 2024

Duration: 36 months

Project Description: Reducing lamb mortality is critical to optimising productivity, welfare and sustainability in the sheep industry. Lamb birth weight is a key determinant of lamb survival, particularly within the first 48 hours of birth. Litter size, ewe breed and parity are strongly associated with lamb survival through their influence on lamb birth weight, which in turn is dependent on the efficiency of nutrient transport and exchange across the placenta. It has been shown that placental efficiency can be manipulated using various nutritional interventions including vitamins and antioxidants, however the mode of action of these interventions remains unclear and their use in commercial practice has not been optimised. Elucidating the factors that affect placental efficiency and lamb birth weight and identifying nutritional approaches that maximise placental efficiency is integral to reducing lamb mortality on farm.

This PhD project will identify opportunities to reduce neonatal lamb mortality by enhancing placental efficiency, lamb birth weight and neonatal lamb vigour. You will use and develop a wide range of practical and applied skills including laboratory analysis, sheep handling, field trial experimental design and execution, systematic review, statistical analysis, and preparation of research papers for publication.

The project has 3 major objectives:

1.To determine the animal factors affecting lamb birth weight.

Using retrospective farm data, you will identify the maternal and offspring factors that affect lamb birth weight and survival.

2.To determine the relationship between placental efficiency, lamb birth weight and neonatal lamb vigour.

Using lambs born at the Harper Adams University Future farm, you will record lamb birth weight, vigour and mortality and correlate these to placental efficiency and function. You will use gross anatomy assessment, histology, and immunohistochemistry to assess placental efficiency, function, and vascularisation.

3. To investigate the potential of specific nutrient interventions to increase placental efficiency, improve lamb birth weight and reduce neonatal mortality.

Through systematic review of the literature, you will identify specific nutrient interventions that affect placental efficiency in sheep. Next, using controlled experiments and ewes at the Harper Adams University Future farm, you will manipulate the diet of pregnant ewes. At birth, you will assess lamb birth weight, vigour and mortality and using gross anatomy assessment and laboratory skills you will determine placental efficiency and function.

Successful candidates will receive a yearly stipend (paid monthly) for maintenance set at the UKRI rate - for 2024/5 this will be £19,237. The scholarship will cover tuition fees for ‘home' students (UK and Republic of Ireland). Harper Adams University is unfortunately unable to offer a tuition fee waiver for international students applying and evidence of funding will be required for International Fee paying students to show they can cover the difference between the UK and international fees for the full four years - for the 2024/5 academic year this amount is £10,890. However, scholarships maybe be available at the time of appointment to cover the difference between UK and International fees for the duration of the programme.

Applicants must hold a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent bachelor's degree in an appropriate subject (such as Animal Science, Agriculture or Veterinary Science, with a specific interest in reproduction and/or nutrition being an advantage) / high grade point average bachelors degree for international applicants or a 2:2 alongside a suitable Master's Degree. Potential for research based on alternative qualifications/experience as judged acceptable by the university, will be considered on a case by case basis.

You will be self-motivated and adaptable with a willingness to learn and gain experience in a wide range of techniques. You will be supervised and guided by academic experts in the disciplines with access to the university farm and laboratories.

Please direct any queries about the PhD project to Dr Claire Kershaw ([email protected]).

Apply Online

Harper Adams University is one of the premier UK Higher Education institutions focused on the land-based and food supply chain sector. With around 2,800 undergraduate students, plus those completing postgraduate, research and CPD programmes, Harper Adams University is the UK's largest single provider of higher education for these subjects. Programmes fall into eleven broad subject areas – but none operate in isolation. Community and collaboration are key at Harper Adams, meaning everyone, including staff, students and industry partners, benefits from a close network of knowledge and opportunity exchange. Situated in Shropshire, the campus and the surrounding area provide an excellent working and living environment for staff and students alike.

Harper Adams is consistently positioned highly in a range of national ratings, performance measures and league tables. The University has been the highest performing modern university in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for the last four years, climbing to 17th place in the overall league table. In the 2020 guide Harper Adams was named Modern University of the Year and runner-up University of the Year. In the 2019 Whatuni? Student Choice Awards, based on student reviews, Harper Adams won the Student Support category for the fifth time – the only university to have taken the title since the awards began - and won the category for best job prospects for a fourth year running. In the 2020 QS World Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry published in March 2020, Harper Adams was ranked first in the UK for academic reputation and second in the world for its reputation with employers.

Harper Adams University is internationally recognised for the quality of its research, as evidenced by the Research Excellence Framework 2022. In order to maintain and uphold the high standards of our research, we continue to undertake initiatives to ensure that integrity, ethics and excellence are at the core of our research activities and fully embedded in our research culture.


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