Teagasc: PhD Walsh Fellowship Opportunity

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University College Dublin and Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Co. Meath.
Closes in 2 days (02 Aug)


Teagasc PhD Walsh Fellowship Opportunity

“Developing more sustainable weanling-to-beef production systems in the context of animal genetics and multi-species swards”

Background

Mean age at slaughter for late-maturing breed (the predominant genotype) beef steers in Ireland is 29 months, which is six months later than achieved on high-performance systems. Older animals are less profitable and have a higher environmental footprint. A key challenge, however, is ‘finishing’ late-maturing breed cattle on grass-only diets at relatively young ages. As a primary determinant of slaughter age is a commercially-acceptable carcass fat score, the propensity of cattle to deposit subcutaneous fat earlier in life is critical if animals are to be slaughtered younger. Currently, nitrogen pollution from agriculture is a significant environmental concern and there is much interest in reducing inorganic fertiliser nitrogen inputs as well as animal nitrogen excretions. In this regard, ‘multi-species’ grassland swards as opposed to perennial ryegrass-based (PRG) swards represent a possible opportunity to enhance the sustainability of beef production through improved, more consistent pasture production, increased utilisation and nutritive value, and ultimately better animal performance, as well as reducing fertiliser nitrogen inputs and potentially the associated environmental footprint of beef farming; however, this requires elucidation. This project will compare two groups of weaned late-maturing breed steers, genetically divergent for carcass fatness, assigned to a factorial combination of two ‘Pasture Types’ (Conventional and Multi-species swards) and three ‘Slaughter Ages’ (19, 24 and 28 months of age), in the context of weanling-tobeef suckler production systems. The Conventional swards will be based on PRG and the Multispecies swards will be based on PRG + clovers (white, red) + herbs (chicory, plantain). Yield, temporal distribution, chemical composition, grazing preference and persistence of the two sward types will be evaluated. Animal intake, digestibility, nitrogen-use-efficiency, growth, carcass characteristics and selected meat quality traits will be determined. Whole-farm modelling will permit outcomes to be assessed in terms of bio-economic and greenhouse gas emissions performance.

Requirements

Applicants will have, or expect to obtain a high honours grade in a biological science degree (e.g., Agricultural Science, Animal Science, Biology, Genetics, Veterinary Medicine). The successful candidate will be expected to register with the School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin for a 4-year Ph.D. degree. The research will be collaborative, involving scientists at University College Dublin and Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Co. Meath.

Award

The fellowship funding is €22,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum and is tenable for 4 years.

Further Information/Applications

Dr. Alan Kelly, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4. Phone +353 (0) 1 7167775, email: alan.kelly@ucd.ie.

Dr. Paul Crosson, Teagasc Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Dunsany, Co. Meath. Phone +353 (0)46 9026100, email: paul.crosson@teagasc.ie.

Application Procedure

A letter of interest together with a curriculum vitae and the names and contact details of two referees should be sent by email to alan.kelly@ucd.ie or paul.crosson@teagasc.ie.

Closing date for receipt of applications: August 2, 2021.

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