PhD position, Ireland/Netherlands (deadline June 21)

 17th May 2024

PhD Position in “Pasture-based systems to create more sustainable replacement heifer rearing systems which promote health and welfare”

Teagasc, Ireland, and Wageningen University, the Netherlands

Transitioning pre-weaned dairy calves from a milk-based diet to a pasture based diet is critical for their future growth and development. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently recommended calves be fed milk at a rate of 20% of bodyweight for the first weeks of life (7-8 L/calf/day), a practice only 14% of Irish dairy farmers are currently undertaking. However, higher milk-feeding rates should not be undertaken to the detriment of rumen development and economic sustainability. In recent years, there has been an increase in farmers reporting diarrhoea issues when freshly weaned calves are turned out to pasture. This suggests that pre-weaning, weaning and post-weaning management protocols for Irish dairy calves need to be re-evaluated to cater for changes in pre-weaning management practices over the past years and to ensure a trajectory which maximises growth, health and welfare. The objectives of this project are to investigate the effect of pre- and post-weaning diet and their interaction on calf growth, health and welfare, behaviour and rumen development. This project has the potential to deliver real solutions to smoothly transition calves from the pre- to post-weaning period ensuring optimum growth rates and high standards of health and welfare within the herd.


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