PhD position, United Kingdom (deadline December 01)

 20th Oct 2023

4-year PhD Studentship: Towards enhancing animal welfare, production and sustainability of farming a large neo-tropical rodent, the lowland paca, in Brazil

Bristol Veterinary School, University of Bristol
Bristol, United Kingdom

The current animal protein production from our global livestock agricultural system may suffice to provide minimum protein requirements to the 9.7 billion people 2050 projected global population. However, access to such nutritious animal protein is poorly distributed to the global population. Developing sustainable farming of local species (better suited to local environment, climate and food, and which farming may reduce the hunting pressure on wild populations) may sustainably advance human nutrition, health and economic prosperity in countries requiring further access to animal protein. One such candidate species is the spotted paca Cuniculus paca, a large neo-tropical rodent currently farmed in small numbers in Brazil. However, paca behaviour and welfare is largely unstudied. Furthermore, current farming conditions do not meet rodents’ basic needs, e.g. no bedding, nesting, gnawing opportunities (essential for good health). Such management likely induces aversive affective states (e.g. boredom, pain), which are a high welfare concern that also influence public acceptance, but this remains untested in paca. Moreover, some farmers report severe production issues (e.g. 30% pup mortality). Crucially, lowered welfare may reduce production in farmed animals [6]. Whether improving animal welfare can contribute to improve production, hence enhancing sustainability of farming paca, remains however unknown.

Supervisors: Dr Carole Fureix (primary supervisor), Professor Selene Siqueira da Cunha Nogueira, Professor Michael Mendl


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