PhD Studentship: A Bayesian evaluation of the relationship between body condition score, bodyweight and lameness in dairy cows, to predict optimal feed management, University of Nottingham

Updated: about 5 years ago
Location: Nottingham, ENGLAND
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

PhD Studentship: A Bayesian evaluation of the relationship between body condition score, bodyweight and lameness in dairy cows, to predict optimal feed management
Job Type
Research & Teaching
School of Veterinary Medicine & Science

Principal supervisors:
Dr Jon Huxley ( and Prof Martin Green (, University of Nottingham. 

Other supervisors:
Dr Mizeck Chagunda & Mr Colin Mason (Scottish Agricultural College), Prof Laura Green (University of Warwick), Mr Steve Williams (Boehringer Ingelheim)

This project is a collaboration between three academic institutions and an industrial partner. Over four years, the successful applicant will study towards a PhD based in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham and undertake a 9 month industrial placement training period working with Boehringer Ingelheim at their UK Head Office in Bracknell, West Berkshire. 

Lameness in dairy cows is a painful condition that seriously impairs cow welfare. The UK prevalence has remained unacceptably high and the condition is a challenge to the sustainability of dairy farming. Surprisingly little is understood about the causes of lameness, particularly the common claw horn lesions. Lameness is associated with a reduction in milk yield several months before lameness is detectable. The argument for the reduction in yield is that cows are in pain and divert energy into metabolic pathways to cope with pain rather than producing milk. However, reduction in yield occurs before lameness is detectable. This is either because detection of lameness is not sensitive (ie cows suffer before they are visibly lame) or more likely because lameness is secondary to a primary insult that also affects milk yield. Bicalho et al (2008) reported that cattle with a thin digital cushion (a fat pad in the hoof) were more likely to be lame and that a thin digital cushion was more likely in cows with low body condition.

We will test the hypothesis that low body condition score (BCS) or rapid weight loss results in an increased risk of lameness. The relationship between BCS, milk yield and lameness is complex because they change over time and lactation. We have a rich dataset from the dairy herd at Crichton (SAC) on 200 cows over eight years. The successful applicant will receive training in sophisticated statistical techniques on a unique dataset that addresses a critical issue for the dairy industry. If the hypothesis is correct and a key 'cause' of lameness is inappropriate nutritional management then the output from the PhD would be a sea change in our understanding of this intractable problem.

We are seeking applications from candidates with a degree in Veterinary Science (eligible for membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) and who meet the BBSRC Student Eligibility Criteria (

Informal enquiries may be addressed to the principal supervisor: Dr Jon Huxley, email:

The studentship is available from either 1 October 2012 or 1 January 2013 for a period of 4 years and provides the standard BBSRC Veterinary Graduate stipend (£20,970 in 2011-12) and an additional payment of £2,500 from the industrial partner.

Candidates should apply online at and include a cv.  Any queries regarding the application process should be addressed to Helena Percival, Postgraduate Admissions Officer, email: Please quote ref. MED/1102.

The position will be filled when suitable candidates have been identified. Early application is strongly encouraged.

  • Information for candidates ( pdf | doc )
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