1 PhD student in the research education subject: Ethology Automation of welfare assessment in broilers at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

1 PhD student in the research education subject: Ethology Automation of welfare assessment in broilers at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Automation of welfare assessment in broilers
PhD position at the Centre of Excellence for Farm Animal Welfare Science The assessment of farm animal welfare is an essential component of welfare quality assurance in animal production. Standardised protocols have been developed (see for instance Visit Official Website.) by which trained assessors carry out on-farm welfare assessments. One specific difficulty in the application of such protocols is the time and effort needed for a complete assessment. This project will focus on broilers and explore the possible automatisation of some measures using modern technology in sensors, sensing systems and real time modeling.

Automatisation would greatly add to the effectiveness and time efficiency of the existing welfare assessment protocols and at the same time provide relevant management information. Integration with risk factor analyses may also provide early warning signals of likely welfare problems In the first phase the project will study broilers in an experimental setting in small groups. Welfare assessments will be carried out according to the current Welfare Quality® protocol for broilers.

Further data will be gathered during the whole growing period using tools for real time image analysis, and separate video recording for behavioural labelling. The relationship between different information sources and outcomes of Welfare Quality® measures will then be quantified and modeled. Various additional variables, which are automatically measured and currently not included in the assessment will be evaluated for their relations and predictive values.

In the second phase of the project, data collection and outcome prediction will be studied in a larger semi-commercial unit. In the final phase measures and models will be validated on commercial scale units. The work is a collaboration between SLU, the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and the University of Bristol (UK) and several other institutions. It is part of the new initiative to consolidate the already existing collaboration between the two leading research groups in animal welfare in Sweden into one Centre of Excellence. Both the Swedish University of Agricultural Science and Linköping University successfully combine a tradition of high quality innovative research, with its application in practice, so contributing to Sweden`s leading role in European animal welfare science and policy. The successful applicant must be prepared to work for a period of time abroad.

Candidates for the PhD position should have an animal science, biology or veterinary education on advanced level and demonstrable knowledge and experience in ethology. Relevant knowledge/experience in relation to broiler production and affinity with relevant technology and computer programs are also relevant.

Forms for funding or employment
Employment as PhD student 4 years

Deadline : April, 26th 2011

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