BSAS 2024: The role of livestock in our ecosystems and economy

Tianhai Yan Awarded the 2024 Sir John Hammond Award for Outstanding Contributions in Animal Science

The British Society of Animal Science (BSAS) and the British Cattle Breeders Club (BCBC) proudly announce Dr. Tianhai Yan as the recipient of the prestigious 2024 Sir John Hammond Award. This esteemed award recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to animal science through research, teaching, knowledge exchange, breeding, farming, industry, or affiliated professions.

Dr. Tianhai Yan, Programme Leader and Head of Ruminant Nutrition Unit at the Agri-Food and Bioscience Institute (AFBI), has been selected as this year's recipient for his outstanding achievements and significant impact on the field of animal science. With a career spanning multiple decades, Dr. Yan has demonstrated exemplary dedication and innovation in his work, earning the respect and admiration of his peers worldwide.

Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Yan has published over 152 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, authored 9 scientific book chapters, and presented 204 abstracts in national and international scientific conferences. His research has significantly advanced our understanding of ruminant nutrition, metabolism, and emissions modelling, influencing policy and industry practices both locally and globally.

Notably, Dr. Yan's groundbreaking research on cattle methane and nitrogen emissions has played a pivotal role in shaping government environmental policy. His work has not only contributed to environmental sustainability but has also directly benefited the dairy and beef production industries in the United Kingdom. Dr. Yan's updated energy rationing models in the 'Feed into Milk' and 'Feed into Beef' programs have revolutionised industry practices, enhancing efficiency and productivity.

In addition to his research contributions, Dr. Yan has demonstrated a profound commitment to education and mentorship. He has supervised and co-supervised 14 PhD students and continues to mentor 8 PhD students from various institutions. Dr. Yan's dedication to nurturing the next generation of scientists has had a lasting impact on the field of animal science, inspiring future generations to pursue excellence in research and innovation.

BCBC Chair Andy King added 'It is an honour to have been part of the judging panel and to announce Tianhai Yan as the recipient of the Sir John Hammond Award for 2024 in recognition of the depth of research that he has undertaken over a considerable period of time. Not only has this been of very practical relevance in cattle production it is now an essential contribution towards policy development  in tackling the challenge around Climate change'

The panel's decision to award Dr. Tianhai Yan with the 2024 Sir John Hammond Award was unanimous, recognising his exemplary achievements, leadership, and unwavering dedication to advancing the field of animal science. His contributions have left an indelible mark on the industry and will continue to shape the future of animal science for years to come.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Tianhai Yan on this well-deserved honour.

14 PhD positions in the MSCA Doctoral Network project BullNet

Organisation/Company: University of Limerick

Researcher Profile: First Stage Researcher (R1)

Country: Ireland

Application Deadline: 2 May 2024 - 15:00 (Europe/Dublin)

Type of Contract: Temporary

Job Status: Full-time

Hours Per Week: 35-40 depending on organisation

Offer Starting Date:1 Sep 2024


Offer Description

BullNet is a Marie Curie Doctoral Training Network focused on understanding and improving bull fertility. It will hire and train 14 PhD students (Doctoral Candidates) in a diverse range of disciplines while addressing key industry relevant research questions. It comprises a multi-disciplinary and inter-sectorial research programme designed to unravel the complex underlying biology of compromised fertility of individual bulls. Cutting-edge basic, applied and machine-learning approaches will be used to understand the biological regulation of sperm function and testis biology in order to optimise fertility.

This will ensure the delivery of a robust, flexible semen product from young, appropriately reared and managed, first-season elite sires that can be used successfully for artificial insemination (AI) with predictable and consistent fertility, so as to provide the industry with key tools to meet current emissions and animal welfare demands. BullNet will also lead to the advancement of knowledge in how bull management strategies and semen processing affect the functional and molecular characteristics of sperm, thus opening scientific horizons for new applications in the area of assisted reproduction.

This is an exciting opportunity to work with the world leaders in the area of bull fertility. While each Doctoral Candidate will be based at one of the partner institutions, they will participate in network wide training events which consist of in-person training weeks with workshops, practical sessions, seminars etc as well as online invited sessions every 3 months. All Doctoral Candidates will get an opportunity for a 3- to 6- month secondment in industry.

While a background in reproduction is highly desirable we are seeking are seeking DCs in the following areas as they apply to animal reproduction.

For application process queries, contact

For informal queries about the project you are interested in, contact the academics listed below.  The list of positions are as follows:



Title: The concurrent and latent impact of inflammatory conditions on the fertility and robustness of intensively reared bulls

Host: Teagasc, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Co Meath, Ireland 

Main Supervisor: Prof David Kenny (Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Ireland;; Prof Pat Lonergan (University College Dublin;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of the nutritional control of reproduction in cattle.  

Project Description: Metabolic acidosis arising from subacute ruminal acidosis (induced by feeding high grain diets) has been associated with altered metabolic function however, the latent effect on the musculoskeletal and reproductive systems are not clear. The objectives are (i)Clearly define the incidence and reasons for culling in natural service and AI bulls using data from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation and AI industry databases, with specific emphasis on musculoskeletal disorders. (ii) Establish an in vivo model of metabolic inflammatory pathology whereby peripubertal bulls are individually intensively fed on a high or moderate grain diet from 5 months and slaughtered at 15 months of age: 1. Characterise the concurrent and latent metabolic, physiological and immunological response. 2. Assess libido and conduct detailed semen quality analysis including computer assisted sperm assessment, in vitro functional assays etc. and 3. Conduct detailed morphological, histopathological and molecular analyses of key metabolic organs (i.e. liver) and musculoskeletal tissue.



Title: Molecular plasticity in male germ cells during spermatogenesis

Host: INRAE, Paris, France 

Main Supervisor: Dr Helene Kiefer (INRAE, France;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of molecular techniques and bioinformatics is an advantage.  

Project Description: The epigenome of germ cells is sensitive to environmental variations but there is no data about the molecular changes occurring during spermatogenesis. We therefore hypothesise that the effects of high energy/grain diets during rearing on testicular function are partly mediated by epigenetic modifications. The objectives are (i) Isolate pure populations of spermatogenic male germ cells from mature testes. (ii) Describe the molecular variations that can be observed between the different spermatogenic stages. (iii) Investigate whether high energy diets offered during rearing affect these variations, and relate the diet-induced modifications to testicular function. (iv) Investigate whether high energy diets offered during rearing affect the sperm epigenome.



Title: Effect of sperm exposure to epididymal extracellular vesicles (EVs) on sperm miRNA cargo, regulation of the female reproductive environment, and embryo developmental competence

Host: Spanish National Research Council (CSIC – INIA), Madrid, Spain;

Main Supervisor: Dr Beatriz Fernandez-Fuertes (CSIC- INIA, Spain;; Prof Sean Fair (University of Limerick;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of molecular techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description: The sperm epigenome can be modified as they migrate through the epididymis of the bull and this can be altered by diet. The specific objectives are to (i) Determine the effect of bull sperm exposure to epididymal EVs on sperm function, miRNA cargo, embryo development and gene expression, as well as the regulation of the oviduct and uterine environments. (ii) Evaluate changes in epididymal EV cargo in response to different diets, with a focus on miRNA. (iii) Determine differences in maternal response and embryo development between sperm exposed to epididymal EVs isolated from bulls fed high or moderate grain diets.



Title: Evaluation of the impact of the bull diet on the epididymal and ejaculated sperm quality

Host: Université Clermont Auvergne, France

Main Supervisor: Prof. Joël Drevet (Université Clermont Auvergne, France;; Dr Fabrice Saez, Université Clermont Auvergne, France;  

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of molecular techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description: The modification of the sperm proteome during epididymal maturation in the bull is poorly understood. The objectives are to (i) Characterize the proteome of extracellular vesicles responsible for a large part of epididymal sperm protein maturation, i.e. epididymosomes. (ii) Characterize the proteome of seminal extracellular vesicles involved in post-ejaculatory sperm maturation. (iii) Correlate these data with the sperm proteome, both in epididymal and ejaculated cells, as a function of diet. (iv) Investigate the nutritional impact of different diets on epididymal and ejaculate sperm quality, focusing on sperm nuclear integrity (condensation, oxidation and fragmentation), as well as oxidative stress at post-testicular and systemic levels.



Title: Identification and characterisation of antibacterial defence mechanisms in bull semen

Host: Institute for Reproduction of Farm Animals Schönow, Germany

Main Supervisor: Prof Martin Schulze (Institute for Reproduction of Farm Animals Schönow, Germany;; 

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of microbiological, spermatology and molecular techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description: Bacterial killing activity of seminal fluid is known across several species, including the bull. However, to what extent the microbiome influences the occurrence of the bacterial killing activity against specific gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria in individual bulls has not been studied. The objectives are: (i) Collect seminal plasma (SP) from AI bulls (summer vs. winter), determine bacterial killing activity (BKA) & sort bulls based on the level of BKA (high or low) against gram+, gram- bacteria, or both (four groups, 1-4). (ii) Determine the microbiological profile of the test group ejaculates (16S rDNA sequencing). (iii) Analyze post-thaw sperm quality of the test groups using an extended spectrum of spermatological methods (e.g. thermo-resistance, mitochondrial activity, membrane integrity, multi-color assay, etc.) and relate it to BKA. (iv) Identify and isolate possible BKA-exerting components from SP samples (e.g. proteomics analyses, 2D SDS page, MALDI, etc.). (v) Characterize fertilizing capacity of ejaculates with low and high BKA (e.g. IVF, AI trials, non-return rate).



Title: Predicting and improving cryotolerance in bull semen

Host: Institute for Reproduction of Farm Animals Schönow, Germany

Main Supervisor: Prof Martin Schulze (Institute for Reproduction of Farm Animals Schönow, Germany;; Prof Sean Fair (University of Limerick, Ireland;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of spermatology and molecular techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description: Bulls vary in the cryotolerance of their semen for reasons that are not fully understood.The objectives are: (i) Characterise and interrogate the relationship between the lipidome, proteome, and exosome of undiluted and sex sorted semen from bulls categorised as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ freezers. (ii) Establish a predictive model of bull cryotolerance in both conventional and sex-sorted semen by using omics data in combination with pre-and post-freeze motility, antioxidant capacity, membrane integrity, fluidity, and stability. (iii) Investigate the effect of altering sperm cryopreservation media components including antioxidants (e.g Hydroxytyrasol) and membrane stabilizers (e.g. cholesterol, lecithin), and the effects of the deep interactions among these components and specific dilution, cooling and equilibration processing techniques on the cryotolerance of semen from bulls categorised as good and bad freezers. (iv) Assess temperature dependent volume response and osmotic tolerance in sperm from good and bad freezers, the effects of antioxidants and membrane stabilizers on these properties, and correlate these data with lipidome and proteome differences. Identify media components that should be used in cryopreservation medium to mitigate osmotic damage both during glycerol equilibration and during cooling for both good and bad freezers.



Title: Sperm modulation of the female adaptive immune response

Host: University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland

Main Supervisor: Prof Sean Fair (University of Limerick, Ireland;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of molecular techniques as applied to spermatology and immunology is an advantage.  

Project Description: Bull sperm are immunogenic in the uterus and we have recently demonstrated that sperm from high fertility bulls have a more active transcriptomic response leading to more rapid clearing of the endometrium of sperm as well as priming the endometrium for implantation. The objectives are (i) Using an established in vitro uterine explant model characterise the physiological role for sperm subpopulations (motile and non-motile) on the uterine immune response using a panel of pro-inflammatory genes and proteins. (ii) Using an in vivo model, investigate the uterine exposure of sperm from high and low field fertility bulls on the modulation of cytokine signalling, inflammation and immune response pathways both locally in the uterus as well as regionally in the cervix, uterine horn and oviduct. (iii) Investigate the effect of uterine conditioning by sperm from high and low fertility bulls during oestrus, on the developmental competence of in vitro derived embryos transferred to heifers on Day 7 and recovered on Day 15. (iv) Assess if repeated exposure of the endometrium of heifers with sperm dampens the immune response and, if so, what cells are being dampened



Title: Paternal sncRNAs legacy to the early embryo

Host: University College Dublin, Lyons Research Farm, Newcastle, Dublin, Ireland

Main Supervisor: Prof Pat Lonergan (University College Dublin;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of embryology and molecular techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description: Sperm can alter DNA methylation patterns, mRNAs, small non-coding RNAs, and proteins in the embryo after fertilisation. The objectives are to (i) Study the dynamics mRNAs/sncRNA expression in the early embryo at several key stages (blastocyst, elongating conceptus) (ii) Analyse the influence of sperm sncRNAs on embryonic gene expression (iii) Infer causal networks and disrupted pathways from these data (iv) Explore in-depth the role of some key networks involved in embryo development.

Students will receive training on in vitro fertilisation and embryo production, non-invasive integration of sncRNAs in embryos, quantification of gene expression in the early embryo and bioinformatic analysis through courses at UCD and secondments abroad.



Title: Distributed machine-learning for the prediction of fertility; FAIR data management, methods to handle privacy sensitive data, knowledge graphs.

Host: University of Cologne, Germany

Main Supervisor: Prof Oya Beyan (University of Cologne;; Prof. Stefan Wesner (, Prof Achim Tresch (University of Cologne;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in computer science, statistics, big data, machine learning or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of FAIR management systems and knowledge graph database systems is an advantage.  

Project Description: Analysing complex data sets, such as sperm quality data, requires the secure integration of heterogeneous and cost-intensive modification of data format. Moreover, lack of transparency about data quality and provenance is a cause for severe reproducibility and reusability issues. The objectives are to (i) Acquisition and curation of a high-quality data set that follows the FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) that serves as input to machine-learning algorithms. Introduction of standardized vocabularies and ontologies. (ii) Development of data connectors (software interfaces) to secure data access from every participating animal breeding centre. Improvements in existing workflows and data-processing pipelines, following compliance with domain standards and practices. (iii) Introduction of a data usage license management. Identify different license types, develop machine-readable versions of them. Automate validation of certificates. (iv) Create knowledge graph database by embedding heterogenous data sets (sperm quality, genomics, transcriptomics, microbiome, field fertility) and applying privacy preserving techniques to query the sensitive data without revealing the proprietary information.



Title: Development of machine-learning tools for the prediction of fertility; Building of classifiers and data analysis 

Host: University of Cologne, Germany

Main Supervisor: Prof Achim Tresch (University of Cologne;; Prof Oya Beyan (University of Cologne;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in machine learning, statistics, data analytics, applied mathematics or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of advanced machine-learning techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description:

Most studies predicting the fertility of conventional semen only have field data at the bull level which is a major limitation. This project aims to relate in vitro sperm quality and molecular data of sex-sorted semen at the ejaculate level to field fertility. The objectives are to (i) Quantify the inter- and intra-ejaculate variability of sperm quality and its impact on fertility in a multi-centric study, using computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA) and flow cytometry data from replicate samples from hundreds of bulls from each breeding centre used for sex sorting. (ii) Quantify the dependency of molecular data (sperm transcriptomics and microbiome datasets) and microscopically determined sperm parameters (CASA, flow cytometry). (iii) Use advanced machine-learning techniques and variable selection/dimension reduction to improve the prediction of the primary endpoints including cryotolerance and the fertility of sex-sorted and conventional semen. Data integration of further molecular covariates (16s rDNA, structural DNA variants, proteomics) and testing for their added predictive value. (iv) Establish an analysis workflow, together with a software tool for the selection of ejaculates/bulls by breeding centres..



Title: Potential vectors modulating sperm-to-sperm interaction for improving sperm quality and fertility

Host: University of Zurich, Switzerland

Main Supervisor: Prof Heinrich Bollwein (University of Zurich; Switzerland;; Dr Eleni  Malana (University of Zurich; Switzerland;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of spermatology and molecular techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description: It has been shown that heterospermic insemination doses, has improved post-thaw sperm quality characteristics compared to homospermic doses and here we hypothesis that exosomes contained in the seminal plasma mediate sperm-to-sperm interactions. The objectives are: (i) To establish a model of good vs. bad freezers (sires with good vs. suboptimal sperm cryotolerance) based on a combination of pre-freeze vs. post-thaw sperm quality parameters and the quantitative characteristics of extracellular vesicles (exosomes) identified in the seminal plasma (SP). (ii) To characterise the secretion/molecular content (miRNA/sncRNA) of seminal exosomes (SE) in sperm of good vs. bad freezers. (iii) To characterise and compare the effects of whole SP, SP depleted of SE (SPdSE) and SE collected from good vs. bad freezers on fertility-relevant sperm quality parameters and developmental rates of in vitro produced embryos. (iv) To explore the role of SE in sperm-to-sperm interaction by comparing the sperm quality traits, the profile and miRNA cargo of SE in heterospermic vs. homospermic semen samples



Title: The contribution of structural variants to quantitative variation in the establishment of pregnancy

Host: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) of Zurich; Switzerland

Main Supervisor: Prof Hubert Pausch (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich; Switzerland;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in computational genomics, genetics, animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. Knowledge of bioinformatics and computational genomic techniques, as well as experience with a programming language is a prerequisite.  

Project Description: It is becoming increasingly evident (from species other than cattle), that structural variants are likely to have larger effects on phenotypes than SNPs and Indels but are not well captured by SNPs. The objectives are to (i) Identify structural variants (>50 bp) in the genome of bulls with low and high field fertility success (selected from ~3,500 genotyped AI bulls with field fertility data) from long sequencing reads mapped against a bovine pangenome. (ii) Derive structural variant genotypes from the pangenome and impute them into large and densely genotyped mapping cohorts with gene expression and fertility-related phenotypes. (iii) Association testing between structural variant genotypes and complex trait phenotypes (1300 Brown Swiss AI bulls with detailed semen quality records from ~70,000 ejaculates and field fertility data, as well as RNAseq-derived gene expression from testis, epididymis and vas deferens of 120 whole-genome sequenced bulls) to identify trait-associated structural variants. (iv) Partitioning of the heritability by variant annotations and transcriptome-wide association testing to quantify the contribution of structural variants to the genetic variation of traits relevant for male fertility.



Title: Post-testicular maturation markers to monitor bull fertility

Host: University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

Main Supervisor: Prof. Ravinder Anand-Ivell (University of Nottingham;; Prof Richard Ivell (University of Nottingham;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of cell culture and molecular techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description: There is no published information on the development of the epididymal secretome through puberty, or whether this is synchronized to the appearance of sperm in the first ejaculates and hence to their fertility. The objectives are: (i) Develop a robust method to assess epididymal biomarkers of post-testicular sperm maturation in mature bulls comparing freshly ejaculated, diluted (with extender), and frozen-thawed preparations, as well as caudal epididymal and testicular sperm. (ii) Using a biomarker approach, compare the post-testicular (epididymal) sperm proteome from pubertal development to sexual maturity at bi-weekly intervals, and after nutritional modulation, thereby determining whether epididymal maturation develops synchronously with other sperm parameters. (iii) Characterise regulation of the mature bull epididymal secretome using primary cell culture. (iv) Monitor the role of INSL3, its receptor RXFP2, and related relaxin family hormones in the epididymis of the bull and assess their influence on semen quality.



Title: Semen microbiome and its relationship to fertility

Host: Queens University Belfast, United Kingdom

Main Supervisor: Prof Sharon Huws (Queens University Belfast, United Kingdom; Prof David Kenny (Teagasc Grange, Ireland;

Duration: 36 months starting July to September 2024

Profile: A candidate with a master’s degree in animal science, veterinary science, biological science or aligned field. In-depth knowledge of microbiological and molecular techniques is an advantage.  

Project Description: Bull semen has a rich microbiome but the origin and impact of this on sperm quality, cryotolerance and field fertility is unclear. The objectives are: (i) Characterise the diversity of the bull semen microbiome in neat semen and determine whether these microbiomes influence semen quality. (ii) Investigate the origin (lab, prepuce, epididymis testes, seminal glands) of semen microbiome and the effects of sperm processing and cryopreservation. (iii) Investigate the effects of key bacterial isolates isolated from (i) and (ii) on sperm quality and cryotolerance and field fertility after artificial insemination. (iv) Determine the effects of seminal exosomes on semen microbiomes in vitro.



Research Field: Biological sciences » Other

Education Level: Master Degree or equivalent


Depending on the position the candidates are applying for, applicants must demonstrate good knowledge in any of the following areas:

  • Animal/Veterinary Science
  • Animal Nutrition
  • Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Embryology
  • Cell Biology including Sperm Cell Biology
  • Data Science and Machine Learning
Specific Requirements
  • For specific degree requirements, check ‘Profile’ within each project description (under DC1, DC2, DC3 etc).
  • An in-depth knowledge of microbiological and molecular techniques is an advantage but not mandatory.  
  • Applicants must speak and write fluently in English

Languages: ENGLISH

Level: Excellent


Additional Information


The candidates will be employed according to the MSCA Doctoral Network rules and follow the regulations of the hosting institution.  The financial package will include the monthly researcher allowances subdivided into

1) a living allowance of €3,400 per month (country correction coefficient applies - The living allowance is a gross amount, including compulsory deductions under national law, such as employer and employee social security contributions and direct taxes)

2) a mobility allowance of €600 per month and,

3) family allowance (€660) per month, where applicable*. 

Doctoral candidates will be given an employment contract for 36 months by their host institution and will be entitled to full employee benefits and inclusion in social security schemes of the host country.

You have the chance to join a comprehensive, interactive and international training programme, as well as training across international institutions

Eligibility criteria
  • Supported researchers: applicants must be doctoral candidates, i.e., not already in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of recruitment. Researchers who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will not be considered eligible.
  • Mobility rule: researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (e.g., work, studies) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date.
Selection process


Application Procedure

Applications (in English) must include the following documents in a single PDF file:

1.  Cover letter (max 500 words) including a statement why you are suited for this position, your expected impact on the project and your preferred top 3 ranked projects (e.g. 1. DC1, 2. DC2, 3. DC3 with 1 being your first choice) if more than one would be suitable for you.

In your cover letter, please indicate if you are open to being considered for other projects outside of your top 3 that are listed in this advert.

2. Curriculum vitae (max 3 pages) - the CV must be without gaps, in order to easily check the mobility and experience requirements. 

3. Transcripts of B.Sc. and M.Sc. courses, including grades.

4. One written academic reference included

In case the Master’s Degree has not been obtained at the closing date for application, the candidate has to submit a declaration signed by their supervisor or University official stating that the degree will be obtained by the time of PhD enrolment (1st September 2024)


Please send your application documents in a single PDF to 

The subject line of the email must be in the following format: “BullNet: application for DC##_Title of PhD project”.  The closing date for applications is 2 May 2024 at 15.00 Dublin time.  Ineligible or incomplete applications will not be considered.

The candidates will initially be evaluated on the basis of the received documents against the following criteria:
•    Academic record
•    Scientific quality of the applicant’s CV
•    Expected individual impact and benefit to the fellow and to the project
•    Previous experience in the subject areas of Bullnet

Shortlisting and Interviews

The short-listed candidates will then be interviewed by a panel that will include the recruiting PIs plus additional consortium members with a balance in terms of gender and varied sector experience.  Candidates, positively evaluated but not initially selected, will be put on a reserve list.

The selection procedure will be open, transparent, and merit-based, fully aligned with the EURAXESS Code of Conduct (  Although the selection will be based on the quality of applications, gender balance will also be considered.

Recruitment calendar:

Call opening: 8 April 2024

Deadline for applications: 2 May 2024 15.00

Remote evaluation: Mid-May 2024

Interviews: Late May to early June 2024

Notification to candidates: Mid to late June 2024

Start date for the doctoral candidates: 1 September 2024



Work Location(s)

Number of offers available: 14

Company/Institute: Across Europe - See specific project description (under DC1, DC2, DC3 etc) for more information on lead institution

Country: Ireland

State/Provinc: Limerick

City: Castletroy

Postal Code: V94 T9PX

Prof. David Kenny Appointed as President of the British Society of Animal Science Marking a Milestone for Ireland

The British Society of Animal Science (BSAS) proudly announces the appointment of Professor David Kenny as its new President, marking a significant milestone as only the second president based in the Republic of Ireland. Prof. Kenny follows in the footsteps of Dr. Jim O’Grady, who served from 1990 to 1991, in representing Ireland's vibrant contributions to the field of animal science.

Prof. Kenny's presidency comes at an exciting time, coinciding with the announcement that the BSAS Annual Conference in 2025 will be hosted in Galway, Ireland, from 8th to 10th April. The theme, "Animal Science supporting livestock's role in a global society," underscores the critical role of animal science in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the livestock industry worldwide.

Prof. Kenny's appointment reinforces the society's commitment to driving collaboration among scientists, industry professionals, and policymakers to address pressing challenges and opportunities in livestock farming [and animal welfare] and nurturing the next generation of animal scientists. His dedication to excellence and passion for advancing the field make him an ideal choice to lead the society forward.

"We are delighted to welcome Prof. David Kenny as our new President," said Maggie Mitchell, CEO of the British Society of Animal Science. "His extensive expertise and leadership qualities will be invaluable as we continue to drive advancements in animal science for the benefit of society and the environment."

Expressing his gratitude and enthusiasm, Prof. Kenny stated, "I am honoured and privileged to lead the British Society of Animal Science as president for the next 12 months. The society continues to play a pivotal role as a platform for the widespread dissemination of state-of-the-art research findings, professional development, education, and as a representative body for the animal science sector."

As Head of the Teagasc Animal and Bioscience Research Department in Ireland, Prof. Kenny brings over 25 years of research experience to his new role. His expertise spans a wide range of topics, including the biological control of economically important traits in ruminant livestock production systems, ruminal methanogenesis, and the development and functionality of the rumen microbiome.

Prof. Kenny's commitment to research and education is exemplified by his supervision of 19 Ph.D. and numerous M.Sc. students. his extensive publication record, which includes over 200 internationally peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and book chapters. He is a recognised leader in the field, serving as the incoming president of BSAS, president of the Physiology Study Commission of the European Association of Animal Production, and a member of the management board of the international scientific journal, animal.

Among his many accolades, Prof. Kenny was awarded the prestigious Hammond Award by BSAS in 2018 for his outstanding contributions to understanding how nutrition affects economically important traits in cattle. Beyond his academic pursuits, Prof. Kenny is deeply involved in the agricultural community, running a beef and sheep farm in County Mayo, Ireland, and actively engaging with the beef cattle sector and wider agricultural industry.

"I intend to work closely with the presidential team and the Trustees to further grow the society's membership, events, publications, and training opportunities," Prof. Kenny affirmed. "Together, we will continue the diligent work of our predecessors in ensuring the viability and continued development of BSAS into the future."

Prof. David Kenny's presidency heralds a new chapter for the British Society of Animal Science, marked by innovation, collaboration, and a steadfast commitment to advancing the frontiers of animal science for the betterment of society and the environment.

About the British Society of Animal Science:

The British Society of Animal Science is a leading professional organisation dedicated to advancement of animal science. Through its activities, the society promotes collaboration, knowledge exchange, and innovation among researchers, educators, industry professionals, and policymakers to address global challenges in animal agriculture and sustainability.

About Prof. David Kenny:

Professor David Kenny is Head of the Teagasc Animal and Bioscience Research Department in Ireland. He has over 25 years of research experience in the biological control of a range of economically important traits to ruminant livestock production systems, including growth and reproductive efficiency, ruminal methanogenesis and the development and functionality of the rumen microbiome. He has supervised the studies of 19 Ph.D. and nine M.Sc. students to completion, as principal supervisor and his research has resulted in the publication of over 200 full length internationally peer reviewed scientific manuscripts and book chapters to-date. He is the incoming president of the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS; April 2024), president of the Physiology Study Commission of the European Association of Animal Production and is a member of the management board of the international scientific journal, Animal. He has led many large research consortia and is currently co-ordinator of the recently awarded €5m Horizon Europe project, ‘Towards sustainable livestock systems: European platform for evidence building and transitioning policy (STEP UP)’. He was awarded the prestigious Hammond award by BSAS in 2018 in recognition of outstanding contribution to an improved understanding of how nutrition affects the complex underlying biology regulating economically important traits in cattle, including feed efficiency, rumen methane emissions and male and female reproduction.

He runs a beef and sheep farm in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland and is integrally involved, and is well known, within the beef cattle sector and wider agricultural industry in Ireland.

Keynote (test) Event

Exploring the mind of farm animals to improve welfare

Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? In other words are you an optimist or a pessimist? What you might actually have noticed is that your underlying moods and emotions influence how you interpret the world around you. Having a good day with everything going well and in a positive mood then you might well be viewing the world through a glass half full lens. On the flip side if you’ve had one of those bad days, things might well look more pessimistic overall. This in fact represents an adaptive form of cognitive bias whereby our underlying emotional state influences our interpretation of ambiguous information. Importantly, in recent years we have demonstrated that non-human animals, including a range of farm animal species also demonstrate these cognitive biases. This matters for two important reasons. First it provides evidence that animals experience emotions and second it has implications for animal welfare.


An influential model of animal welfare assessment is the Five Domains Model that considers the domains of nutrition, physical environment, health and behavioural interactions, all of which feed into a fifth domain of mental state. This holistic approach helps emphasise that animal welfare is more than health. An animal can be healthy but have poor welfare. Thus, it highlights the importance of mental wellbeing. However, this presents a major challenge as how do we assess mental wellbeing in farm animals that can’t communicate directly with us? This has led to exciting, pioneering research that aims to better understand the emotional lives of non-human animals. Rather than using the word ‘emotion’, the more technical term used in this area is affective state. So now back to cognitive bias!


This approach has been developed by Professor Mike Mendl, Dr Liz Paul and others from the University of Bristol. Back in 2004, they published an influential Nature paper that has ultimately led to a new area of animal welfare science. In the 2004 study they trained lab rats so that when they heard one sound frequency they could receive a food reward by pressing a lever. Thus that sound frequency predicted a positive reward. They were also trained that when they heard a second different sound frequency they needed to avoid pressing the lever or something negative would happen (e.g. a blast of white noise). Once the rats learnt this so called ‘Go / No-go’ task, half of them were maintained in standard housing conditions. However, the other half were placed under housing conditions known to induce a degree of stress (e.g. damp bedding and unpredictable husbandry regimes). This experimental treatment was the manipulation of emotional state, the prediction being that those housed in unpredictable conditions would be in a more negative affective state than those maintained in the standard housing conditions. Following the housing period, the rats were then re-tested in the previous learning task. However, this included an important clever additional element! In addition to giving the rats trials where they heard the previously learnt sound tones, one frequency predicting the positive reward and the other something negative, in some trials they also played a sound frequency that was intermediate between the two previously learnt cues. That is, they exposed the rats to an ambiguous stimulus, essentially asking does the animal perceive it as predicting a reward or predicting a punishment. The prediction was that if those housed in the predictable housing were in a more positive emotional state than those in the unpredictable housing the former would be more likely to respond to the ambiguous sound tone as if it predicted a food reward. This was indeed what they found. This pioneering study then set the scene for a suite of so called judgement bias tasks than now span from invertebrates to a range of farm animal species, and was the subject of a recent meta-analysis of the topic. This includes some of my own research which has used the approach to demonstrate that giving dairy cows access to pasture had benefits for their affective state. Also, in work as part of a collaboration with Professor Simon Turner at SRUC in Edinburgh, we’re using the approach in pigs to assess if those animals that have lost an aggressive encounter are in a more negative affective state compared to winners. This matters because regrouping aggression is a welfare issue that needs to be managed in pig production.


Using judgement bias to infer animal emotion also has a number of limitations. For example, the approach of first training an animal on an associative learning task means it is only feasible in a research setting and not practical for on farm welfare assessment. This has sparked interesting research in alternative approaches. One such approach is termed attention bias. This is another form of cognitive bias whereby animals (including humans) in a negative affective state will pay more attention to potentially threatening stimuli compared with those in a more positive affective state. For example, this approach has been pharmacologically validated in sheep. In the study, individual sheep were allocated to one of three treatments, receiving either an anxiogenic drug to increase anxiety, an anxiolytic to reduce anxiety or a saline control. They were tested individually in an arena during which they were briefly exposed to a threatening stimulus (a dog seen through a window which was then covered after a short period of time). Subsequently those given the anxiogenic drug spent more time being vigilant and looking towards were the threat had been, while also being less likely to feed. This approach has the advantage of not requiring the animals to have been previously trained on a task. It has been used in a number of practical settings. For example, we’ve recently used it in a study involving dogs from a licenced breeding establishment and demonstrating that those that had been given additional environmental enrichment were less vigilant in an attention bias test, consistent with a more positive affective state. We’ve also recently used it as part of a study comparing the welfare of sheep managed using either virtual fencing or physical fencing and if you’re interested you can hear the results of that study at the upcoming BSAS conference!


While attention bias avoids the need for animals to learn a task, it is still not practical for inclusion in on farm assessments of animal welfare. For that an approach called Qualitative Behaviour Assessment (QBA) is proving very useful. QBA was pioneered and developed by Professor Francoise Wemelsfelder based at SRUC in Edinburgh. The approach involves a holistic assessment of the behavioural expression of an individual animal in relation to a list of descriptive terms, with the animal scored on a scale for each term. The descriptive terms could include words such as ‘relaxed’, ‘alert’, and ‘playful’. This sounds highly subjective and anthropomorphic. However, there is convincing evidence that how animals score using QBA is related to other validated measures of welfare. Indeed, the utility and success of this non-invasive observational approach is also evidenced by the fact it has now been incorporated into a number of UK assurance schemes used by retailers.


Previously research on animal emotion and sentience was deemed somewhat off limits and anthropomorphic. Now, thanks to pioneering researchers and advances in animal welfare science we are beginning to shed light on the mental wellbeing of non-human animals. However, there is still much that remains to be explored. In biology and science in general we talk about the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness. Research into animal mental states is within this challenging area. Rather than shy away from this we should embrace it and use it to attract talented researchers who like a challenge! Animal welfare science brings together a range of disciplines and perspectives with the goal of generating and using fundamental knowledge and understanding to have applied relevance to improve the lives of animals. Animal sentience, the capacity to experience emotions both positive and negative, is now enshrined in UK law with the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022. Importantly this includes all vertebrates, as well as invertebrate decapod crustaceans and cephalopods. This is also raising the question regarding other species not currently included in the Act. For example, in the cognitive bias studies discussed above, honey bees have been found to perform as well as many other vertebrate species! With this in mind I see there is an interesting session on insect welfare at the upcoming conference. The UK also has the recent Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act 2023 with the aim of harnessing advances in animal breeding technology to enhance performance, health and welfare. While technologies in this area can have great potential the legislation also requires approaches to follow up with welfare assessments of the animals involved. It will be important that this includes practical approaches to assess mental state and wellbeing. This is an exciting time to be involved in animal welfare science. For those interested in finding out more about the opportunities for research in this multidisciplinary area then take a look at the Animal Welfare Research Network ( This is funded by BBSRC and Defra and is free to join.      


Written by Gareth Arnott, Queens University Belfast

Frank Dunshea

The winds of change are blowing at animal – open spac

The winds of change are blowing! When animal – open space was launched in June 2021, one of the aims was to propose an alternative to the standard external peer review of manuscripts. We believe that external peer review contributes to but is not a guarantee of the quality of a scientific paper. We see this nowadays with papers being published by journals after a peer review of doubtful quality. Open Science thus puts a greater responsibility on the shoulders of readers. Up to now, manuscripts in animal – open space were reviewed by scientific editors of the journal who meticulously evaluate the content of the manuscripts, focusing on the reproducibility of the study and the associated data. In accordance with the philosophy of Open Science, the journal set up a postpublication, open-commenting process that allows readers to interact with authors through the PubPeer platform via a link called “Discuss the Article”. The intention was to encourage an open discussion about the published article and replace the “hidden” reviews done by a couple of peers. Unfortunately, this reader-author interaction has not been widely used. Is the scientific community not ready yet to engage in such an open discussion? Are we too early with this approach? This remains unclear. Nevertheless, in addition to the peer-review, the goal remains to foster an open dialogue between readers and authors regarding the published article.

Authors who published their research results and the associated data in animal – open space support the concept of Open Science promoted by the journal. However, other authors have been reluctant because their institutions request them to publish research only in journals with an Impact Factor. We recently learned that animal - open space is not eligible to apply for indexation in the Journal Citation Reports database (WoS) to get an Impact Factor because it does not have implemented an external peer review process. We regret this position, but this is as it stands now. Again, we might have been too early in trying to fully embrace Open Science. Those who rely on metrics probably put too much value on external peer review as a key to scientific quality. Our view is that it is better to have a solid open internal peer review process than to pretend to do this with a non-transparent external peer review process. But we have to face reality. Whether we like it or not, Impact Factor is still perceived as an indicator of the quality of a journal, and having an external peer review is necessary to be eligible for getting one. The journal has therefore decided to add an external peer review process to papers submitted to animal – open space. In line with our philosophy, the reviewers’ comments and authors’ response will be accessible to readers as supplementary material with the manuscript. As the editor-in-chief of the journal, I am excited about this new step in the development of animal - open space. I hope that all those reading these lines will consider this journal for future publications, especially for types of publications such as Data Papers and Method Articles.

animal – open space will continue offering the possibility to publish not only classical Research Articles but also Data Papers and Method Articles that relate to farmed or other managed animals, leisure and companion animals, and the use of insects for animal feed and human food. By the end of 2023, 54 manuscripts have been published, including 5 data papers and 12 method papers. Despite being a new journal in the livestock research field, the articles published in animal – open space are well-perceived by the community.

Especially encouraging is the fact that Data Papers and Method Articles published in 2022 have already been cited in 2023, indicating that these types of articles are highly valued by the research community.

The animal Consortium is seeking an editor-in-chief for animal – science proceedings

animal – science proceedings is one of the three scientific journals jointly owned by a Consortium comprised of the British Society of Animal Science (BSAS), the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) and the Institut National de Recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement (INRAE).  The journals are currently published by Elsevier.

animal – science proceedings publishes high-quality proceedings from conferences, symposia and workshops on aspects of life sciences with emphasis on farmed and other managed animals, leisure and companion animals, and insects. More information about animal – science proceedings can be found on the websites of the Consortium and the publisher.

The Consortium is seeking candidates for the position of Editor-in-Chief for animal – science proceedings. The Editor-in-Chief ensures the co-ordination, preparation and publication of the journal, in co-ordination with the publisher.

The Editor-in-chief is responsible for the development of the journal within the framework of the budget defined by the Management Board, to:

  • propose the scientific guidelines of the journal to the Management Board
  • ensure the scientific quality of the journal
  • ensure good relations with conference organisers and with the guest editors for the issue
  • ensure harmonious relations with the publisher or printer, or the service provider in charge of digital dissemination of the journal


His/her main activities are to:

  • organise all aspects of the editorial process
  • liaise with the publisher to provide conference organisers with deadlines and costs
  • agree guest editors with the conference organisers
  • liaise with the conference organisers to ensure deadlines are met and the manuscript provided for publication meet journal guidelines
  • liaise regularly with the publisher in relation to the production of the journal and to other matters such as marketing
  • liaise with the other editors to identify full (review) articles from conferences that may be published in animal
  • meet the scientific and publication targets set by the Management Board
  • operate within budget framework defined by the Management Board
  • undertake any other activities as determined by the Management Board

There are normally between five and nine issues per year that require a time commitment of three working days an issue on average. In addition, about 10 days are required for attendance animal consortium meetings, most of which are virtual. Candidates are expected to have experience in writing scientific articles, to possess good communication skills, and to take initiative while being a team player. The Editor-in-Chief will receive a fixed honorarium for his/her activities.

For more information about this position, please contact Jaap van Milgen (chair of the animal Consortium; or Cledwyn Thomas (current Editor-in-Chief of animal – science proceedings;

Candidates are asked to send their CV and a short motivation letter to Jaap van Milgen by May 15th, 2024. The appointment can start in September 2024, and includes a 4-months transition period with the current Editor-in-Chief. 

Your Guide to BSAS 2024

BSAS News December 2023

BSAS News January 2024

Northern Ireland Pork & Bacon Forum

Lance Woods

An interview with animal’s new editor-in-chief, Dr Isabelle Louveau

About Dr Isabelle Louveau, Editor-in-Chief

  • 1991 : Doctorate in Biology, Rennes 1 University, France, with an 18-month internship in a research laboratory at Pennsylvania State University, State College, USA
  • 1992 : recruitment as a researcher in INRA (French National Institute of Research in Agronomy, now INRAE)
  • 2006 : Accreditation to supervise research
  • 2005-20007 : Editor, Domestic Animal Endocrinology's editorial board
  • 2015–2019 : "Physiology" section editor, Livestock Science's editorial board
  • Since 2015 : Editor, Journées de la Recherche Porcine (Swine Days' Research) organisation committee
  • 2017–2022 : Vice-president, Commission on Animal Physiology, EAAP (2 terms)
  • 2020-2023 : Editor and then Deputy Section Editor, Physiology & Functional Biology Section, animal's editorial board
  • From 2024 : Editor-in-chief, animal


Who owns animal?

The animal journal is part of a journal family (animal, animal – science proceedings, and animal – open space) owned by an international consortium comprised of two learned societies and one research institution:

All decisions regarding animal are made by the consortium. The journal is completely independent in its editorial policy and strategy. The royalties it receives (45% of income for each published article) are shared between the consortium members. These funds are then allocated to finance conferences, targeted research actions, etc. Read more here.


1. After a transition period at the end of 2019, animal implemented Gold Open Access in 2020. What consequences did you observe after this change of business model, from 2020 up to 2024?

  • We first observed a change in submitting authors' geographical profiles. Some countries cannot afford article-publishing charges and no longer submit as a result. The animal journal is a member of Research4Life, a partnership that grants waivers to teams of researchers from low-income countries. We can also offer a limited number of waivers. Despite these two schemes though, we have unfortunately lost submissions from these countries.
  • animal's impact factor did not decrease when we transitioned to the Gold Open Access model. On the contrary, it rose above the threshold of three in 2021. This threshold is a minimum requirement to publish for some institutions. As a result, some authors who previously would not submit started to send us articles. More recently, Clarivate has changed its calculation methods for impact factors. This led to a better ranking for animal amongst journals of the same category.
  • On the whole though, transitioning to a Gold Open Access model has caused a 30 to 40% decrease in the overall number of submissions. We have only recently (since summer 2023) started to observe a slight pick-up in the number of submissions.
  • As for the quality of submissions: it has spread out towards the extremes. We receive a significantly greater number of out-of-scope or sub-standard quality articles. However, we also receive more articles of excellent quality. The overall quality of acceptable and accepted articles has noticeably increased.


2. Could you tell us more about the journal's scope widening to include insects, as of 2024?

  • The decision to widen animal's scope to include insects was made by the journal's Management Board. It stems from the Board's will to adapt to the development of new livestock farming sectors, as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of communications concerning or including insect production submitted to EAAP's Annual Meetings.
  • The journal's scope has now been adapted to include insects. However, just as for all other animal species within the scope:
    • It is the production aspect and rearing factors that are of interest for animal;
    • Animal responses must be included, in particular whole-animal outcomes.
  • This new section will be cross-disciplinary and theme-based: it will be centred around insects and all aspects of insect production, unlike other sections, which are organised by disciplines.
  • The new Section Editor, as well as a Deputy Section Editor and a few editors, have already been recruited.
  • Submissions of articles about insect production are already welcome!


3. What is animal's editorial policy regarding the quality assessment of articles?

Articles are assessed through a multi-criterion evaluation. It entails:

  • Assessing overall comprehensibility, including
    • the quality of scientific content, that is the clarity of the expression of ideas and scientific concepts,
    • the quality of the English language used and its legibility;
  • Ensuring that principles of responsible publishing and ethics are respected, for instance by
    • detecting plagiarism,
    • ensuring that international authorship standards are upheld and CRediT author statement is used,
    • ensuring that any use of artificial intelligence to assist in writing be duly acknowledged;
  • Evaluating the scientific quality and the reproducibility of the research presented.

Recently, we have decided to raise our standards when it comes to statistics in articles, to foster a better understanding of studies and their analysis by readers. We will soon publish a Statistics guidebook for authors, reviewers, and editors, which will formalise our expectations and provide guidance to support authors and help them to produce robust and reproducible statistics.

BSAS hosts Annual Conference in Belfast amid 80th anniversary celebrations

BSAS hosts conference amid 80th anniversary celebrations

The British Society of Animal Science’s (BSAS) Annual Conference, is set to take place in Belfast from April 9th to April 11th, 2024, coinciding with the society's 80th anniversary celebrations. Established in 1944, BSAS has been at the forefront of fostering collaboration and innovation in animal science for eight decades.

The conference, themed on ‘The role of livestock in our ecosystems and economy’ is shaping up to be a dynamic and enriching event, offering unparalleled opportunities for learning, networking, and collaboration as it will convene experts, researchers, and enthusiasts from across the UK and Ireland and beyond to discuss and explore the latest scientific advancements and knowledge.

The opening session of the conference will include Prof Maggie Gill (Aberdeen Uni), Prof Frank O’Mara of Teagasc and the EU Animal Task Force and Dr Katie McDermott (University of Leeds).  Frank will be the main speaker opening the debate and outlining the current state of knowledge with regard to the role of livestock in our ecosystems and economy.

A further highlight of this year's conference is the President’s Session (Wednesday 10th April), in which the presidents of the British Ecological Society (Prof Bridget Emmett; UKCEH); British Society of Soil Science (Dr Jack Hannan, Cranfield Uni); President-Elect from the Agricultural Economics Society of Ireland (Dr Erin Sherry, AFBI) and Elizabeth Magowan, President of BSAS, will come together to discuss and find a fact-based position on the role of livestock in our ecosystems and economy. The session will be chaired by a past President of the Ulster Farmers Union – Prof John Gilliland.   The presidents session will be followed by the ‘Hammond Lecture’ which will be delivered by Prof Hannah Van Zanten of Wageningen University.  Hannah is a world leading scientist, and her presentation will outline novel approaches to driving circularity in farming systems with Livestock a key feature of that circular system.

On Thursday 11th April, sessions on sustainable beef production and reducing the environmental impact of dairy systems will address the potential interventions which will reduce emissions and how we can apply science to best benefit.

The highlights above are just a few examples of the cutting-edge science and its practical application that will be discussed and debated at the conference. Full programme details can be found here.

There are various options for attending e.g. one day ticket, three day ticket, 80th anniversary Gala dinner ticket and a one off special offer of £120 to attend the presidents session noted above, including lunch.

AFBI Quality Assurance Manager (Livestock Science) - Higher Scientific Officer

REF: IRC300577

DEPARTMENT: Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland (AFBI)

SALARY: £32,880 - £34,011

LOCATION: AFBI Hillsborough, Co. Down BT26 6DR


Further appointments may be made from this competition should AFBI positions become vacant which have similar duties and responsibilities.
For more detailed information, including the duties and responsibilities of the post, and the criteria to be used during the recruitment and selection process, please click on the Candidate Information Booklet link below.

In order to apply for this position, please click on the “Apply for this job online” link below to register to this vacancy and to submit an online application.

Completed application forms must be submitted no later than 12:00 noon (UK time) on Friday 5th April 2024.
Applications are particularly welcomed from Roman Catholics and Females as these groups are currently under-represented within AFBI.
All queries can be directed to HRConnect by:
Telephone: 0800 1 300 330

Colin Smith

James Taylor

BSAS Undergraduate Thesis of the Year Award 2024 is open!

Do you have animal science and related subject students that deserve special recognition?

The BSAS Undergraduate Thesis of the Year Award 2024 competition is open to universities and colleges that have students participating in animal science related courses.
The award looks to acknowledge the best of undergraduate research and offers the winner the opportunity to have a summary of their work published on the BSAS website. The prestigious award aims to demonstrate the quality of animal science students and their work globally, to both academic nd industry audiences.

To enter this competition, you are invited to submit up to 2 entries showcasing the highest quality theses or dissertations, submitted in 2024, from your animal science students. We are accepting theses on a diverse range of subjects,
covering any species companion, livestock or zoo, in all fields of animal science.

• Areas and specialisms related to the welfare and productivity of farm animals to help produce quality, safe and environmentally sustainable food
• Animal health and welfare
• Management of equine, companion and captive zoo animals
• Only theses adhering to this stated scope will be considered


Opportunity to present at the BSAS Annual Conference 2025
• Abstract written in Proceedings
• Complimentary BSAS 2025 Annual Conference Pass
• £150 towards travel and accommodation
• Thesis will be summarised for publication in the BSAS Fledgling Bytes series and a profile piece ont he winner will be included in the BSAS newsletter.

For further details and guidelines please visit:

Deadline: 31st July 2024

Thesis of the Year

Animal welfare of grazing ruminants and its relationship with sustainability

Livestock farming, especially ruminants like sheep and cattle, plays a crucial role in rural landscapes by providing essential services such as nutrition, soil health, biodiversity management, and support for local communities. However, this industry has become a topic of societal debate due to concerns about animal welfare, the impact of consuming animal products on human health, and the environmental footprint of livestock production. Achieving sustainability in this complex landscape requires careful consideration of economic, environmental, and social factors, along with the inherent trade-offs. Therefore, exploring the intricate relationship between animal welfare, including the Nutritional, Environmental, and Health Domain (NEHD) and the Behavioural and Mental State Domain (BMSD), and the economic, societal, and environmental pillars of sustainability within grazing ruminant systems is necessary.

Grazing, which aligns with the natural behaviour of ruminants, is considered more welfare-friendly. However, disparities arise due to management practices and environmental conditions, prompting a need for equilibrium between NEHD and BMSD. While grazing emerges as a competitive and sustainable system for dairy cows, challenges persist, including seasonal variations, genetic considerations, and the fulfilment of natural feeding behaviours. The impact of grazing on cow welfare, particularly in terms of BMSD, remains a relatively unexplored aspect, warranting further research and attention. The delicate interplay between NEHD and BMSD in grazing systems highlights the nuanced challenges faced by livestock farmers. Grazing allows animals to express natural behaviours and provides space for exercise, yet concerns linger about disease detection, nutritional adequacy, and exposure to unpredictable weather. This intricate relationship underscores the interconnected dimensions of animal welfare, economic viability, societal demands, and environmental impacts.

High animal welfare is identified as a linchpin for livestock farming success, influencing productivity and overall economic performance. While enhancing welfare may incur increased production costs, opportunities for win-win scenarios exist, such as extending the grazing season, positively impacting both economic returns and BMSD welfare. Initiatives like 'Milk from Happy Cows' and 'Pasture for Life' exemplify the synergies between economic returns, animal welfare, and successful marketing strategies. Beyond dairy, synergies between animal welfare and farm productivity also extend to meat production in pasture-based systems. These systems are marketed as 'natural' and 'quality', which align with consumer preferences. However, interventions aimed at boosting productivity may pose challenges to animal welfare. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider and maintain a delicate balance that ensures both profitability and ethical standards, especially in larger operations.

The ability of animals to optimise their nutrient efficiency through self-selection of diets represents a synergy, since potential environmental benefits can arise. However, pasture alone may not meet performance expectations. This necessitates using supplementation to fulfil genetic potential, which can impact emissions intensity.

Synergies between animal welfare and the environment are particularly evident in silvopastoral systems. Integrating livestock and trees in these systems enhances animal welfare, biodiversity, and microclimatic conditions. This showcases positive behaviours and reduces stress. The broader environmental benefits associated with nutrient distribution and soil health further emphasize the importance of holistic approaches in sustainable grazing ruminant systems.

When it comes to addressing societal needs, the focus shifts to delivering accessible, high-quality nutrition through grazed pastures. Products from these systems have an enriched nutritional profile, offering beneficial fats and fat-soluble vitamins. However, challenges such as reduced iodine concentration in pasture-based organic milk highlight the need for a delicate balance between meeting nutritional quality and societal demands.

Production methods, especially in pasture-based systems, face scrutiny in the context of marketing strategies targeting discerning consumers. While these strategies may allow for premium pricing, the discussion emphasizes the need for societal considerations to ensure that high-quality nutrition remains accessible to all. Grazing livestock not only meets nutritional needs but also fulfils additional societal requirements related to rural access, countryside stewardship, and supporting rural communities.

Viewing animal welfare as a system involving animals, caretakers, oversight bodies, stakeholders, and citizens highlights the complexity faced by the entire supply chain and society when it comes to agreeing on standards in this socially and ecologically interdependent system. Achieving sustainable livestock farming requires a holistic understanding and thoughtful integration of economic, societal, and environmental considerations.


By Jordana Rivero, Rothamsted University and Trustee of British Society of Animal Science

Thesis of the Year

Emily Hancock

John Gilliland

Georgina Chapman

SVS Autumn Conference

SVS Conference

23rd - 25th Sep 2024

MacDonald Linden Hall Golf & Country Club

Monday 23rd – Wednesday 25th September 2024

At the MacDonald Linden Hall Golf & Country Club, near Morpeth in Northumberland

SVS Spring Online Conference

Details coming soon

Quality Meat Scotland

CMVM / The Roslin Institute - Research Fellow

Job Info

  • Job Identification 9610
  • Locations Roslin Institute Building, Roslin, EH25 9RG, GB (100% On-campus)
  • Apply Before 15/04/2024, 23:59
  • Health and Safety Requirements Key hazards identified (plan is in place)
  • Criminal Record Check No criminal record check required
  • Contract Type Fixed Term
  • Number of Openings 1
  • Grade UE07
  • Organization Royal Dick Veterinary Studies, Royal Dick Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh University Group
  • Department The Roslin Institute
  • Job Function Researcher
  • Job Schedule Full time

Job Description

Research Fellow

CMVM / The Roslin Institute

Grade UE07 £37,099 to £44,263 per annum (A revised salary range for this grade of £39,347 to £46,974 is planned to take effect from Spring 2024)

Fixed term contract: funded to 17 April 2026

Full time: 35 Hours per week


The Opportunity:

The Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh is offering a postdoctoral position in the group of Prof Mike McGrew, one of the leading labs in genome editing technologies in bird species. This position is funded as part of an institution collaboration with a world leading poultry genetics company and the BBSRC. The project is to develop multiplex genome editing technology of chicken stem cells for the production of genome edited chicken. This project will advance the frontiers of genome editing in avian species by developing protocols to create multiple genetic changes in the genome of chicken.

The post-holder will be involved in the design of CRISPR/Cas9 experiments and reagents through to the analysis of genome edited chicken. Applicants should have PhD in Biological Science or related subject. The ideal candidate will be a self-motivated and proactive individual with strong skills in either in genome editing of mammalian stem cells, chicken stem cells and use of DNA editing reagents. Expertise in micromanipulation of chicken embryos would also be useful. In addition, bioinformatics skills that could be applied to the analysis post editing cell/animal genome integrity using DNAseq data would be useful but training could be provided. 

The applicant will complete high quality original research and will disseminate the data in refereed papers, presentations and conference abstracts. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team as well as semi-independently are important, as the successful applicant will need to communicate their findings to stakeholders and industrial partners. 


Your skills and attributes for success: 

  • Experience in genome editing of stem cells
  • Micro-manipulation techniques of chicken embryos.
  • Experience with R or Python
  • Strong organisational, presentation and communication skills. Ability to generate good quality written reports in a timely manner.

Click to view a copy of the full job description (opens new browser tab) 

As a valued member of our team, you can expect: 

  • A competitive salary.
  • An exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. 
  • To be part of a diverse and vibrant international community.
  • Comprehensive Staff Benefits, such as a generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts, family-friendly initiatives, and flexible work options. Check out the full list on our staff benefits page (opens in a new tab) and use our reward calculator to discover the total value of your pay and benefits. 

Championing equality, diversity and inclusion

The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality. 

Prior to any employment commencing with the University you will be required to evidence your right to work in the UK. Further information is available on our right to work webpages (opens new browser tab).

The University is able to sponsor the employment of international workers in this role.  If successful, an international applicant requiring sponsorship to work in the UK will need to satisfy the UK Home Office’s English Language requirements and apply for and secure a Skilled Worker Visa.  

Key dates to note

The closing date for applications is on 15th April 2024.  

Unless stated otherwise the closing time for applications is 11:59pm GMT. If you are applying outside the UK the closing time on our adverts automatically adjusts to your browsers local time zone. 

Stephen Mansbridge

Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust invites applications for bursaries worth £20K


The Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust are now inviting applications for projects that will prioritise  improving the performance of British Agriculture and Horticulture covering:


  • The development and adoption of new technologies to improve productivity and product quality
  • New approaches to improve health, well-being and reduce environmental impact
  • Building and maintaining a premium brand identity
  • Initiatives to improve opportunities for people involved in agriculture and horticulture


Previous projects have covered Mindfulness, improving media communications for farmers, enhancing  public engagement,  farm-based community projects, mentoring farmers, Pod Casts on Time and helping Community Supported Agriculture.


A bursary of up to £20K is available with a deadline of 22 March 2024. 


Contact David at or Mike   For further information of an informal chat

Simon Doherty


The Impact of infectious disease on livestock health

The Impact of infectious disease on livestock health

BSAS membership has expertise across a vast range of animal science disciplines, including animal heath and welfare.

Livestock health is a critical component of agricultural systems worldwide. Whether it's dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs, or poultry, maintaining the health and well-being of these animals is essential for sustainable farming practices. However, various factors, both infectious and non-infectious, can significantly impact livestock health, leading to economic losses, welfare issues and environmental concerns.

Infectious diseases pose a significant threat to livestock health. Pathogens including bacteria, viruses, and parasites cause a range of sub-clinical and clinical conditions. Outbreaks of exotic diseases such as the recent cases of Bluetongue in the South of England and avian flu within poultry flocks are newsworthy. Arguably, however, endemic diseases such as mastitis in dairy cattle and salmonellosis in chickens have the greatest impacts year on year. These diseases not only affect the health and welfare of animals but also have significant economic implications for farmers. Production losses, such as reduced milk or meat yields, directly impact farm revenues. Additionally, expenses incurred for disease treatment and prevention measures further strain agricultural budgets.

Moreover, livestock health issues are often seen now within a One Health framework, emphasising the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. In the setting of livestock production, this approach highlights the importance of addressing zoonotic diseases, which are infections that can be transmitted between animals and humans. Zoonotic diseases such as toxoplasmosis, salmonellosis and avian flu pose risks to both animal and human populations, in particular to those in direct contact with infected livestock and livestock products.

However, within the One Health context the environmental impact of livestock disease is often overlooked. Control of livestock disease is a win: win: win in terms of human health, financial viability but also environmental sustainability of the industry. The involuntary culling of sick animals that lead to the increased numbers of replacement animals, the costs associated with the production of milk discarded due to elevated somatic cell counts or maintenance of a pregnancy that results in a dead calf or lamb significantly contribute to environmental stressors such as land use, Greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste management.

Maintaining and improving livestock health is therefore paramount for the future of sustainable agriculture, with implications for production efficiency, farm finances, and the environment. Our members are working to build evidence to deliver knowledge for farmers to optimise the health of their animals. Our annual conference is a great place to come and hear what we are doing in this area.

Author: Nick Wheelhouse, Associate Professor in Microbiology at Edinburgh Napier University

Nutrition Society Congress 2024

Nutrition Society Congress 2024: New data – focused approaches and challenges

Details coming soon Nutrition Society Congress 2024: New data – focused approaches and challenges

Francis Lively

Kim Matthews

Dale Farm


Margaret Gill - Sir John Hammond Winner (1992) Interview

The Sir John Hammond Award closes for nominations on 1st March. We caught up previous award winner, Margaret Gill, Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen to ask her a few questions about working in animal science and receiving the prestigious award.


How did your interest in animal science and research first develop, and what motivated you to pursue a career in this field?

One of my uncles worked at the Rowett Institute in the sheep section and his wife came from a hill sheep farm, so despite growing up in Edinburgh I had exposure to sheep (and research) at an early age. The 1960s and 70s was also a time when global food security was recognised as an issue and caught my imagination. Studying animal science was a way of combining those two interests.


Can you share a specific project or study that you are particularly proud of, and how it has contributed to advancements in animal science?

My research career is a long time ago as I have been more involved in managing and advising on research projects and programmes in the last thirty years. The programme I am most proud of commissioning is one called Zoonoses in Emerging Livestock Systems (ZELS), which was launched in 2012. It was developed while I was a Senior Research Fellow at what was then the Department for International Development (now part of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Organisation) and attracted investment from 5 other public sector funders. We held initial workshops to bring researchers together with international research users (FAO, WHO and what is now the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH)) to facilitate rapid uptake of research findings should an epidemic occur. We failed to anticipate Covid-19, but hopefully the closer relationship between researchers and those organisations was helpful during the pandemic.


The Hammond Award recognises outstanding contributions to animal science. What impact do you hope your work will have on the broader scientific community and society as a whole?

I received the Hammond Award in 1992, three years after moving from working at a Research Council funded Institute to working for an Institute owned by the UK Government’s Overseas Development Administration. When I made that move, a respected member of BAS told me that would be “the end of my career”! Receiving the award gave me confidence I had made the right move and I hope it reassured others that working on livestock in developing countries was a good thing to do!


How do you approach collaboration and mentorship in your career, especially in fostering the development of other women in animal science?

I am a passionate collaborator. Everyone sees the world, and indeed research questions, from a slightly different angle and we can all learn by acknowledging and understanding from how others see the world. One way of progressing towards a balanced view (which is essential for achieving a realistic understanding) is by having a diverse team or panel. I was fortunate that colleagues recognised that and put me forward for teams and advisory roles early in my career and I learnt from that. I try to create diverse teams and to encourage female colleagues to have confidence in their own abilities.

SRUC Research Associates in Dairy Food Science (two posts) Microbiological and nutritional quality of milk and dairy products

Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) - Dairy Research & Innovation

Location: Dumfries
Salary: £35,267 to £40,836 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 22nd February 2024
Closes: 10th March 2024
Job Ref: ASWF/AGR/023/24

Working Hours: Full-Time (37 hours)
Contract: Fixed-term, 3 years
Location: Barony Campus , Dumfries

SRUC is unique in Scotland and one of the largest organisations of its kind in Europe. Our ambitious and exciting vision is to work at local, national, and international levels, leading innovation and sustainable development in agriculture and rural sectors.

Based in SRUC’s Dairy Research & Innovation Centre in Dumfries, these posts will support the production and further refinement of high-quality dairy products in South-West Scotland and Cumbria. Appointees will collaborate with the wide range of dairy processors in the region, as well as with microbiology, food safety and animal health experts across SRUC.

We will make appointments in two areas:

1. Microbiological assurance of milk and dairy products – work will include evaluation and refinement of hygiene practices on farm and/or in processing facilities. Appointees will develop and implement microbiological testing methods suited for use on farm (pathogens and contaminants) or in small-scale processing units.

2. Nutritional improvement of milk and dairy products – work on the detailed chemical composition of milk, assessment of effects on the processing characteristics and quality of dairy products. This may include analysis of the effects of changes in farm management and feeding practices linked to changes in microbiological or enzymatic processing. Examples include altering milk carbohydrate profiles, enhancing beneficial fatty acids or minerals, or probiotic alterations.

This is part of the new £21.3 million Digital Dairy Chain project led by SRUC, which is focussed on dairy industry developments in our region.

Appointment may be available as a Research Fellow for suitably qualified candidates.

Further details on the requirements of this role can be found in the Job Particulars document which you must read before applying for this role.

Benefits / What you will get in return:

• Enhanced holidays
• Enhanced pension contributions (5% employee and 10% employer)
• Cycle to work scheme
• Discounted RAC Membership
• Enhanced family leave
• Flexible working patterns
• Hybrid working solutions (in some areas)
• Tailored investment in and individuals' learning and development

SRUC Leading the way in Agricultural and Rural Research, Education & Consultancy.

SRUC is committed to valuing Diversity, advancing Equality and respecting Human Rights throughout the organisation and encouraging applications from disabled people using the “Disability Confident Employer” symbol. SRUC is a member of the Athena SWAN charter.

Springer Nature


The Future Has Six Legs!


We are excited to announce the launch of a groundbreaking new section in animal journal: 'Insects as Livestock.' Insects play a crucial role in shaping the future of animal production, and we invite you to contribute to this dynamic field.

Key focus areas of 'Insects as Livestock' include:

  • Breeding and Genetics
  • Nutrition
  • Physiology (Biology of tissues, growth, development, reproduction, productive processes)
  • Behavior and Welfare (including ethics)
  • Health Management (population medicine, preventive medicine, epidemiological approaches)
  • Production Systems and Sustainability (economic, social, environmental, and their interactions)
  • Quality of Insect-Derived Products (quality and safety, impacts of animal products on food security and human health)

Meet the esteemed editors of this section:

  • Section Editor: Laura Gasco, University of Turin
  • Deputy Section Editor: Stephen Mansbridge, Harper Adams University
  • Editor: Karol Barragan Fonesca, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
  • Editor: David Deruytter, INAGRO

Submit Your Work Now!

animal journal is renowned for publishing the best, innovative, and cutting-edge science related to farmed or managed animals. We welcome contributions from all species that are in, or contribute knowledge to, farmed and managed animal systems, including but not limited to cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, horses, rabbits, fish, and insects.


Not a BSAS member yet? Whether you're a seasoned researcher, a dedicated student, or a professional using animal science in industry or agriculture, your membership of BSAS connects you with a dynamic community dedicated to progress and collaboration.

Sign up here

EGGED - Edinburgh Gallus Genomics and Embryonic Development Workshop 2024

EGGED will bring together the world’s chicken embryology experts to share their skills and showcase the exceptional resourcefulness of the chicken embryo.

The workshop is open to researchers with a range of experience; from students and early career researchers to group leaders and principal investigators. The workshop will also provide an opportunity for scientists to share, learn and develop embryological techniques that use the chicken embryo and importantly, to shape the future of chicken developmental biology resources and approaches.

In 2022, this is what attendees said;

Great talks from a range of disciplines including field leaders. Core techniques covered. Opportunity for independent work surrounded by experts. Great introduction to the model system.

Great scope of topics and techniques - Excellent size (number of participants) and just the right duration - Excellent accommodation and learning facilities - Loved (!) the final dinner/dance.


EGGED 2024 will provide hands-on training in fundamental and cutting-edge developmental biology techniques, including;

  • In-ovo manipulation- tissue grafting, bead application, electroporation, over-expression, knock-down approaches
  • Ex-ovo culture and electroporation
  • RNA in situ hybridisation
  • Transgenesis and gene editing
  • Functional genomics
  • Chicken cell and organoid culture
  • Tool making
  • Imaging approaches
  • Networking events
  • Sandpit discussions to establish the forward momentum of the field

Participants will have access to the unique transgenic chicken lines available from the National Avian Research Facility (NARF) including the "Roslin Green" GFP, "Flamingo" dtTomato, membrane GFP, "Chameleon" Cre-inducible mini-Brainbow and Cas9. At EGGED, participants will be encouraged to undertake their own experiments with eggs from these lines to generate preliminary data.


New for 2024 - Extended Workshop for Beginners and Experts (spaces limited)

Those new to the chicken embryo or expert researchers keen to collect data during the workshop can apply to extend the standard 4-day workshop.

  • EGGED Beginners — Researchers new to the chicken embryo can apply to attend an introductory course on Monday 8th July.
  • EGGED Experts — Advanced researchers can extend the workshop to facilitate pilot data collection beginning on Monday 8th July, with the option of finishing data collection on Saturday 13th.


Event registration will now be coordinated by EMBO - Register here

If you have any queries about the event, please contact


Organisers  Megan Davey, James Glover, Ana Hernández Rodríguez and Ruth Williams




The Roslin Institute, R(D)SVS and the NARF have received a Saltire Facilitation Network Award from The Royal Society of Edinburgh to hold practical workshops in both 2022 and 2024. EGGED 2024 will be supported by The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Teagasc leading the development of more sustainable European livestock production systems

STEP UP is a four year research project funded under Horizon Europe, the EU’s flagship funding programme for research and innovation. The project, led by Teagasc, aims to support the development of more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable European livestock production systems (ELPS). The project was launched this week by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, with responsibility for research and innovation, Martin Heydon T.D. A consortium of 16 partner organisations from across Europe gathered at the Teagasc Ashtown Conference Centre, Dublin on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th February 2024, to officially kick-off the project.  

A core objective of STEP UP is to generate clear, unambiguous and quantitative information to support greater sustainability, viability and resilience of environmentally compatible European Livestock Production Systems. Through state-of-the-art research methodologies and thorough and effective stakeholder engagement, STEP UP will deliver a platform of measures to support European policy makers with science-based evidence on the impacts and externalities of ELPS, as part of the food and wider ecosystem.

Launching the project, Minister Heydon remarked; “with 90% of Irish farms having some form of livestock farming activity, this area plays a vital socio-economic role in rural Ireland and this is also the case in many EU countries. Irish livestock farming is embracing a wide range of practices to improve sustainability, from breeding more sustainable animals to using less fertiliser, which also produces lower emissions, as well as incorporating multi-species swards and clover into grassland, amongst other areas. Research and innovation have driven the development of these and for this reason; I am delighted to be launching this new, pan-European research project ‘STEP-UP’. Through the involvement of 16 partners across 10 countries, I am confident that the research will provide valuable insights and data for the benefit of European livestock production and I wish the team, led by Professor David Kenny of Teagasc Grange, well in their work over the coming four years”.

On the occasion of the launch of the STEP UP project, Professor Frank O’Mara, Director of Teagasc and current President of the EU Animal Task Force said: “Teagasc is centrally involved in supporting the ongoing development of the economic and environmental viability of the livestock sector, both nationally and internationally. Taking the leadership role in the STEP UP project further demonstrates our commitment to strengthening the sustainability of both Irish and European livestock production systems”.

Professor David Kenny, Head of Animal and Bioscience Research in Teagasc and STEP UP coordinator, said: “In order to address the many challenges facing ELPS, the overall objective of STEP UP is to provide policy makers with a robust evidence base on the impacts and externalities and, in particular, their monetised values, of livestock farming as part of the food system and wider ecosystem”.

Step by Step to Innovation

STEP UP will forge a clear path forward in the co-creation of ELPS suited for future societal needs. This starts with mapping data gaps, a step that is crucial for improving the reliability of all further analyses. This will be followed by establishing current Innovative Livestock Production Systems which requires documenting and understanding novel and developing practices in livestock management. By indicating and measuring the impact for livestock systems with a focus on quantifying the consequences of these systems, STEP UP intends to establish a holistic methodology for quantifying impacts. The use of novel data modelling approaches will enhance the accuracy of predictive models enabling forecast scenarios including monetizing impacts so that transition pathways for more sustainable and diverse ELPS can be identified. Evidence-based STEP UP knowledge of ELPS as part of the food system and wider ecosystem will be disseminated using the multi-actor approach. Finally, STEP UP will provide a unique and warranted platform to support the development of informed and objective policy measures to optimise the central role of livestock in meeting the nutritional and societal needs of the European and global population.

Collaboration is the key

STEP UP’s collaborative approach brings together reputable partners from all over Europe - TEAGASC, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, INRAE, Wageningen University & Research, IFIP - Institut du porc, The European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders, The Spanish National Research Council, Foodscale Hub, Institute De L'elevage, FeedInov CoLab, Germany’s Federal Office for Agriculture and Food, The Poznań University of Life Sciences, Thuenen, IST-ID, Institut Technique de l'Aviculture and Queen’s University Belfast.

The project will actively involve farmers, data providers, research institutions, and other industry experts, policymakers, the European Commission, and other key agri-food industry actors.

The STEP UP project has been funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and innovation programme. All the information is available on the project's website, as well as on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.

It is funded by the European Commission through its Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme with co-funding from UK Research and Innovation.

STEP UP is a Research Innovation Action funded by the European Union through the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101136785. The project has also received funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee. The STEP UP project commenced on the 1st January 2024 and will run for four years with an overall budget of €4.7 million. The consortium includes 16 partner organisations from 10 European countries.

BSAS Presentation Club Webinar

The BSAS Early Career Committee is running a presentation club webinar on 27th March at 2PM via Zoom. 
Open to a small number of participants, the team is offering presentation training to early career researchers who have never presented before or who would like to further develop their skills. Participants will be divided into small groups to allow you to receive tips that are relevant to you and receive feedback.
Gain invaluable insights and feedback so that you are ready for the next big conference opportunity!
Numbers are limited and places will be allocated on a first come basis. To register your interest, please email



Harper Adams PhD project : Supporting global quality in livestock farming systems.

Acquiring and assess a systemic approach by using serious games in local Geographical Indication dairy system in France and the UK.

Discipline: Zootechnics - Farming systems and agricultural extension
Supervision: Stéphane Ingrand (PhD-HDR)1, Sylvain Dernat (PhD)2 et Michael Lee (PhD)3

1 Joint Research Unit Herbivores INRAE, VetAgro Sup Saint-Genès-Champanelle - France
2 Joint Research Unit Territoires - GAMAE - Clermont Auvergne University (UCA), INRAE, VetAgro Sup & AgroParisTech Clermont-Ferrand France. This research unit will host in France the successful candidate.
3 School of Sustainable Food and Farming, Harper Adams University - Edgmond, Newport UK

Livestock farming is often identified as one of the main agricultural drivers of climate change. Therefore, when considering the value of livestock products in terms of their environmental impact, a holistic assessment is required using balanced metrics and avoiding tunnel vision. In addition to considering nutritional and co-product benefits, other natural capital and societal assets that result from well-managed farming enterprises need to be recognised (Manzano et al., 2023). However, this approach remains difficult because it is subject to divergent interpretations depending on the stakeholders involved.

Global quality is an emerging concept in agriculture, particularly in livestock production systems (Legrand et al., 2023). It goes beyond the sanitary, economic and organoleptic aspects of quality as understood in the production and processing industries (ie the intrinsic dimension of quality), and takes in ecological, social and cultural dimensions (ie the extrinsic dimension of quality). However, putting this concept into practice is difficult because it involves so many different actors (farmers, processors, advisors, vets,
distributors, but also elected representatives, citizens, ecologist associations, etc.).

This thesis is based within the field of farming systems and agricultural extension and aims to address the scientific front of participatory support for global quality in livestock farming, as well as its practical application in the field, using a dual approach. On the one hand, theoretical work will aim to better define the concept of global quality in livestock farming, and on the other, empirical work will aim to test the practical application of this concept to support changes in livestock farming systems in the field.

For this second aspect, the PhD student will use innovative tools such as serious games, which are now at the heart of a revival of agricultural guidance in Europe. Serious games are now commonly used to address systemic issues in agricultural sectors, particularly under geographical indication (GI) (Dernat et al., 2022). Unlike traditional top-down advice, games can be used to address complex systems by making them accessible to as many people as possible through simple but not simplistic modelling and
knowledge sharing.

The problem this thesis will address is therefore at the crossroads of two scientific fronts: that of overall quality in livestock farming and that of support approaches to accompany systemic changes in agriculture. As a result, the question to be addressed by this thesis will be: How can serious games be a means for integrating the global quality approach to move livestock systems through the agroecological transition?

The thesis will be based on two case studies in France and the UK within two local GI dairy production sectors. GI sectors are particularly sensitive to these systemic issues, as they combine the economic constraints of the sector with territorial strategies linked to local issues. The aim is to support these sectors using a global quality approach in order to optimise their strategies by involving all the stakeholders, both inside and outside the sector and the territory. There is a need for engineering to do this and the serious game as an engineering tool will make it possible to federate various stakeholders around a common vision of the global quality of local GI dairy system. A comparison between France and the UK will be interesting in terms of institutional (EU vs. non-EU), cultural and technical differences, which may help to better understand the importance of the concept of global quality and its local application.

To achieve this, the thesis will use serious games as part of an overall support process. Part of the work will involve identifying and adapting existing games or, failing that, creating a new game dedicated to global quality in livestock farming. This process will be tested in real conditions with stakeholders in the sectors, using the principle of action research as already tested on a PDO cheese (Dernat et al., 2022).

The evaluation framework for step-by-step support developed by Etienne et al. (2023) or by Sneessens et al. (2019) could be used to measure and adjust the effects on the real practices of the operators involved.

Contribution of the thesis to science:
The thesis will be an opportunity to make an important theoretical contribution to livestock farming systems approach, mainly by addressing the concept of global quality. In this respect, the person recruited will be able to take part in EAAP (European Federation of Animal Science) and IFSA (International Farming Systems Association) scientific events. Empirical approaches may also be the subject of investment in the ESEE (European Seminar on agricultural Extension & Education).

Practical contribution of the thesis to livestock farming:
The aim of the thesis will be to provide useful and operational tools to help all stakeholders of a sector to asses and to achieve global quality. These tools can then be disseminated and mobilised by agricultural advisory services.
More broadly, the participatory proposal of the thesis opens up to a public that is partly outside the agricultural world (citizens, elected representatives, etc.). This highlights the practical challenge of putting into operation a process with this wider perimeter, which is socially interesting but not often addressed in the actual practice of field support (Coeugnet et al., 2023).


Minimum expected publications:
- An article on the concept of global quality in livestock farming
- An article on the results of the support provided to farming groups during the thesis, in particular a comparison between France and the UK. Target journals: Animal, Agricultural systems, Agriculture for Sustainable Development.

Logistical aspects of the thesis:
The thesis will be hosted in Clermont Ferrand within INRAE. It will provide support for the overall work of the thesis and specifically for the French field. One of the supervisors is a research engineer, who has worked extensively on futures issues and adaptations of livestock and is a specialist in the livestock farming systems. The other French supervisor is a research engineer, whose research focuses on supporting transitions in farming communities. He is also responsible for the GAMAE platform, which specialises in serious agri-environmental games. The person recruited will also be able to benefit from the teaching staff of the Gloqual master's programme (Global quality in livestock farming), in which the French supervisors of this thesis are involved. More practically, the PhD student will be hosted by UMR

Territoires, which will manage the budget in line with the projects in the French fields, and will also provide the ideal setting for developing serious games and evaluating them in a participatory process (creation workshop and digital tools of the GAMAE platform, unique in Europe).
The PhD student will also be hosted by Harper Adams University in England to enrich the approach and carry out experiments in the English field. The presence in UK is expected to be ca. 1 year of study. In particular, the School of Sustainable Food and Farming will be contributing its expertise in supporting agricultural sectors throughout the value chain (from producer to distributor). The English supervisor will bring his knowledge of local farming systems and quality issues in the livestock sector. It will also enable
the person recruited to be integrated into the various scientific communities involved in livestock farming in UK and in the Morrisons Sustainable Farm Network project.

Case studies:
In UK, to support the thesis work, resources will be mobilised in conjunction with the Morrisons Sustainable Farm Network project via the Saputo Dairy. Saputo produces the GPI cheese Wensleydale, an English cheese that originated in Wensleydale, England. Saputo is ranked within the top 10 global dairy processors, with leading market positions in Canada, the USA, Australia, Argentina, and UK.

In France, the thesis will be supported by the RMT (Réseau mixte technologique) Fromages de Terroir to work with a PDO/GPI cheese close to Wensleydale (in organoleptic and production terms, to have this same basis to compare) on the global quality. It will also benefit from the work of the ANR Gingko project and/or European GI-Smart project to carry out fieldwork.

Over the three years, case studies will also benefit from the support of the Gloqual Master's students as part of their annual group project. Students will go to France and/or UK to help the PhD student to prepare the field actions and assess the impact of the support.


- Salary: remuneration by the UCA (one of the "tutelle" of the lead research unit, UMR Territoires) for three years of thesis (€2,885 monthly cost, i.e. €34,620 annual cost)
- Mission expenses for the case study in France: supported by the ANR Gingko project or the European Smart-GI project (depending on the needs), managed by INRAE for UMR Territoires.
- Mission expenses for the case study in the UK: supported by the Morrisons Sustainable Farm Network project, managed by Harper Adams University.
- Operating costs for international co-supervision (doctoral student and supervisor mission expenses): €15k managed by the UCA.

Required Education Level
- Agricultural Sciences > Master degree or equivalent (engineer diploma)
- Economics > Agricultural economics > Master degree or equivalent

- Mastery of the systems approach to livestock production
- Ability to conduct and analyse interviews
- proficiency in bibliographical analysis
- Ability to run workshops with professional stakeholders in agricultural sectors
- Ability to write

Specific Requirements
- English > Excellent
- French > Good
- 1 to 6 months training in a research laboratory will be a plus.
- An experience in a participatory project will be a plus.

Selection process:
Clermont Auvergne University, Clermont-Ferrand, France and its Clermont Auvergne Project Graduate School (CAP GS) programme offer a PhD opportunity that will be conducted in partnership between Clermont Auvergne University and a foreign research Institution. The associated Changing Environments Graduate Track presents three PhD proposals published on EURAXESS, of which one only will be funded.

The selection process will take all applications into consideration. The best fitting candidate will be invited to an audition between end of June and mid-July 2024.
Applicants who have earned their higher educational qualifications outside Europe or in Greece must attach to their application a certificate of equivalence of the diploma (Master degree). The certificate can be obtained following the procedure indicated here:
Application deadline: Friday May the 10th, 5 pm Paris time, 2024. Applications arriving after the application deadline will not be taken into consideration.


Applications should include a cover letter indicating your motivation and relevant research experience, a detailed curriculum vitae, academic transcripts and contact information for at least two referees.
Please send the application via Email to:, and
PhD studies will start in November 2024. A salary will be paid for 3 years (36 months).


Agricultural Economics Society of Ireland     Home   News   2024 Meetings   Past Meetings   Council   EAAE events   Job Va

The Annual Conference will be hosted by Ulster University in Belfast on 26-28th June 2024. Details to follow.

Belfast Campus, Ulster University, 2-24 York Street, Belfast, BT15 1AP

David Levick

Georgina Croxford



9th International Conference on the Welfare of Animals at Farm Level (WAFL)

Welcome to the 9th International Conference on the Welfare of Animals at Farm Level (WAFL) in Florence on August 30th and 31st, 2024. This marks the first in-person WAFL since Wageningen in 2017, and follows the successful online WAFL conference in 2021. We are delighted to collaborate with the Health and Welfare Commission of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) in organising WAFL 2024, which will feature two full days of single sessions and poster presentations. This will offer a unique and focused experience for attendees, as well as the opportunity to engage in a Delegate Forum discussing the future of Animal Welfare Science and WAFL. You can continue your intellectual journey into the evening at the conference dinner on Friday 30th August against the captivating backdrop of Florence.
Following WAFL, you can extend your experience of Florence at the 75th EAAP Annual Meeting (1st – 5th September) with numerous scientific sessions dedicated to farm animal health and welfare. Several of these will be organised in collaboration with other relevant study commissions including Precision Livestock Farming, Genetics, Nutrition and Livestock Farming Systems to leverage the presence of animal scientists from other disciplines. We look forward to your participation in this milestone event!


  • Humans in the loop – role of sociology in improving farm animal welfare
  • New welfare indicators – with a focus on the positive!
  • It’s all in the mind – cognition and the welfare of farm animals
  • The future of animal welfare: policy and science
  • Welfare of farm animals at end of life (culling/euthanasia, transport and slaughter)
  • Suppress, substitute and soothe suffering – application of the 3S’s to improve farm animal welfare
  • New frontiers in the assessment of animal welfare on-farm
  • Free communications


WAFL 2024 Organisers

  • Laura Boyle (Chair)
  • Keelin O’Driscoll (Co-Chair)
  • Amy Quinn (Co-Chair)

WAFL 2024 Scientific Committee

  • Keelin O’Driscoll (Chair)
  • Laura Boyle (Co-Chair)
  • Maria Hotzel
  • Gabriella Olmos Antillon
  • Oceane Schmitt
  • Jen Yun-Chou
  • Siobhan Mullan
  • Gareth Arnott
  • Mona Giersberg
  • Miroslav Kjosevski
  • Jan Tind Sorensen (WAFL 1999)
  • Christoph Winckler (WAFL 2005)
  • Frank Tuyttens (WAFL 2008)
  • Tina Widowski (WAFL 2011)
  • Isabelle Veissier (WAFL 2014)
  • Hans Spoolder (WAFL 2017)



Albani Hotel, Via Fiume, 12 – 50123 Firenze

Katie McDermott

Standard Bio Tools

Sion Richards

Jim Jensen

Genus PLC


Paul Crawford

David Ewing

Sam Beechner

Steven Van Winden

Yongxiu Yao

Katharina Watson

Eleri Thomas

Core Scientist in Quantitative Genetics and Genomics


  • Job Identification9466
  • Locations Easter Bush Campus, Roslin, EH25 9RG, GB(100% On-campus)
  • Apply Before15/02/2024, 23:59
  • Health and Safety RequirementsKey hazards identified (plan is in place)
  • Criminal Record CheckNo criminal record check required
  • Contract TypeFixed Term
  • Number of Openings1
  • GradeUE07
  • OrganizationRoyal Dick Veterinary Studies, Royal Dick Veterinary Studies, Edinburgh University Group
  • DepartmentThe Roslin Institute
  • Job FunctionResearcher
  • Job ScheduleFull time


UE07 £37,099 to £44,263 per annum (A revised salary range for this grade of £39,347 to £46,974 is planned to take effect from Spring 2024) 

College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine/Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies/The Roslin Institute         

Fixed term (to 31/3/2028)

Full time (35 hours per week)

We are looking for a candidate to support the development of research activity in small ruminant genetics and genomics, and DNA methylation in livestock species within a newly established group at the Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh). The main emphasis is on statistical and computational skills, but additional laboratory skills would be advantageous. The position offers substantial independence and potential for growth.

The Opportunity:

This post offers the opportunity to pursue your research interests in the areas of livestock epigenomics and small ruminant genetics and genomics, with a focus on health, reproduction and production, and contribute to shape the research direction of a newly established research group. You will work in close collaboration with the group’s principal investigator to manage the research group and deliver research outcomes.

Your skills and attributes for success: 

  • Expert in animal breeding, quantitative genetics, quantitative genomics, or similar discipline.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively, towards research group and individual objectives.
  • Track record of research output of high quality and technical skills.
  • Willingness to engage in and contribute to own and colleagues’ professional development.

Click to view a copy of the full job description (opens new browser tab)

As a valued member of our team you can expect:  

An exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent and reward success. You will benefit from a competitive reward package and a wide range of staff benefits, which includes a generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts, family friendly initiatives, flexible working and much more. Access our staff benefits page for further information and use our reward calculator to find out the total value of pay and benefits provided. 
The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality. 

If invited for interview you will be required to evidence your right to work in the UK.  Further information is available on our right to work webpages. 

The University is able to sponsor the employment of international workers in this role. If successful, an international applicant requiring sponsorship to work in the UK will need to satisfy the UK Home Office’s English Language requirements and apply for and secure a Skilled Worker Visa. 

Unless stated otherwise the closing time for applications is 11:59pm GMT. If you are applying outside the UK the closing time on our adverts automatically adjusts to your browsers local time zone. 

Michael Lee

Gemma Wyburn

Thomas Williams

Mark Trotter

Jennie Pryce

Gregory Sawyer

Luciano Adrian Gonzalez

Animal Health Vaccine Development Summit

Animal Health Vaccine Development Summit

Open Date: 31 January 2024
Close Date: 01 February 2024

Location: Kansas City, MO

External link: Learn More

Unleashing the Power of Vaccines to Advance Veterinary Medicine

Emerging advances in biopharma development and manufacturing processes are rapidly changing the game for animal health drug development. As this community capitalizes on advanced platform technologies, RNA vaccines & other innovations, this year alone has seen the first-ever vaccine for honeybees – medicines for animal health are on the cusp of something truly exciting. 


With increased investment, collaboration, and more promising innovation than ever before, the Animal Health Vaccine Development Summit has been curated as the industry’s first R&D-centred forum dedicated solely to showcasing the latest advances in high-value vaccine technologies being harnessed for intervention against infectious disease, cancer & chronic pain, from biopharma and academia. As we navigate through the progressive science in animal health, this forum will arm the community with the means to discover, design, and develop the next generation of veterinary medicines.

AgriLeader Forum on 30–31 January 2024

Join us at the AgriLeader Forum on 30–31 January 2024 for an opportunity to meet up and network with like-minded farmers and learn from international experts.

Are you making the most of your personal and business networks?

Join us as we help you explore how to create and develop connections to benefit both you and your business.

The Agrileader Forum will transform your perspective and inspire you to change.


When and where

12:00pm Tuesday 30 January – 1:00pm Wednesday 31 January 

Hilton Manchester Deansgate

We've secured a preferential rate at the venue of £169, which you can book via the link below. 

Reserve a room at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate 

Alternatively, there are several hotels near to the venue, including: INNSiDE Manchester, several Premier Inns and Leonardo Hotel.

Why come to the event?

While taking time out of your business might seem like an impossible task, the benefits you can reap from doing so are priceless:

  • Hear from inspirational, world-renowned speakers
  • Network with like-minded farmers
  • Be challenged and motivated in equal measure
  • Arm yourself with the tools you need to drive your business forward
  • Take time to reflect and plan
  • Have a great time and recharge your batteries


Agenda (Tuesday 30 January)

With Nicholas Saphir, AHDB Chairman

The fuel for your engine
With Dr Stephanie Fitzgerald, a chartered clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist, keynote speaker and published author.

Building the network: gazing over the hedge
An interactive panel discussion with:

  • Laura Ryan, Founder and CEO of Meat Business Women and Global Meat Alliance
  • Phil Halhead, a third-generation dairy farmer with a large beef enterprise and founder and managing director of Norbreck Genetics and Norbreck Storage
  • Phil Jarvis, Chair of Albanwise Farming and Albanwise Environment

The power of networking (breakout sessions)

Closing remarks
With Mike Gooding, AHDB Farming Systems Director

Drinks reception and evening meal

Agenda (Wednesday 31 January)

With Will Jackson, AHDB Divisional Director – Engagement 

Personal power: build your resilience, resourcefulness and creativity
With Marcus Child, an award-winning speaker who inspires confidence, wholeheartedness and courage.

Reflections: Have you stepped out of your comfort zone?
With Dr Stephanie Fitzgerald and Marcus Child

Closing remarks and lunch


Find out more about the event

Reader in Dairy AgriTech - Barony

SRUC is unique in Scotland and one of the largest organisations of its kind in Europe. Our ambitious and exciting vision is to work at local, national and international levels, leading innovation and sustainable development in agriculture and rural sectors.

An exciting opportunity has become available for a Reader at our Dairy Research Centre in Dumfries.

This post is part of the exciting £21.3 million Strength in Places Project “Digital Dairy Value-Chain for South-West Scotland and Cumbria” that SRUC is leading along with University of Strathclyde, University of the West of Scotland, CENSIS, First Milk Limited, Lactalis McLelland Limited, Kendal Nutricare Limited, Cows & Co Group Limited, National Milk Records PLC and SmartSTEMs.

Based in SRUC’s Dairy Research & Innovation Centre and working with a wide range of project partners and stakeholders across South-West Scotland and Cumbria, the purpose of this post is to foster the development and adoption of useful agritech in the regional dairy sector by:

  • Innovation scouting;
  • Participation in product development, including data management and integration, using SRUC’s dairy farms as a test-bed;
  • Outreach and knowledge exchange with the sector.

The post would be extremely suitable for a candidate with data engineering and database management background in the agri-tech sector. It will involve close collaboration and building pipelines with data scientists developing a digital twin of the SRUC dairy farm and working on a range of data sources and project areas, including:

  • Use of weather and farm information (including from networked meteorological stations) in the management of fertiliser, manure and agrochemical applications;
  • Methods to monitor crop growth and quality;
  • Development and use of methods to monitoring biodiversity;
  • Use of animal mounted sensors in managing cow physiology, behaviour welfare;
  • Developing new outputs based on high-throughput analysis of milk;
  • Contributing to maintenance and curation of dairy farm datasets and affiliated databases;
  • Use of research equipment for recording feed intake, meal patterns, methane emissions and energy expenditure.


Paul Smith

Katie McDermott

Steven Morrison

Sam Hoste

Aurelie Aubry

Christina Marley

Esther Harper

Laura Tennent

Phil Holder

David Wilde

Philip Skuce

Jos Houdijk

Tommy Boland

Paul Crossan

Elizabeth Magowan

Laura Boyle

Jonathan Statham