Nov 25

JOB ADVERT: PhD studentship

See below for an exciting new PhD position at the Moredun research institute investigating:

Holistic approach to internal parasite control on hill and upland sheep farms

Application deadline: 5th January 2020

For more details on how to apply please visit see the job advert through the following link:

Information about the post:

This PhD will investigate ways to optimise roundworm and liver fluke control in hill and upland sheep, to address the issue of increased anthelmintic (wormer) resistance in flocks. In Scotland, there are ~ 15,000 hill and upland farms with sheep, representing ~60% of the whole agricultural area.  Despite this predominance, sheep production on these farms is becoming increasingly challenging. Currently, roundworm and fluke control is achieved by anthelmintic use at flock level, but regular whole-flock treatment may select strongly for resistance. Alternative approaches to control parasites whilst maintaining drug efficacy, include faecal egg count (FEC) monitoring, Targeted Selective anthelmintic Treatment (TST), pasture management and host genetic selection. However, their effectiveness will depend on the willingness and ability of farmers to implement them, as each option will have different financial and management implications. 

Recent research on the use of a weight-based precision livestock farming TST method has been carried out by the Moredun Research Institute (MRI) and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), with promising results in terms of reduced use of anthelmintics by 40-50% without adversely affecting lamb production.

This project will identify the scale of anthelmintic related issues faced by hill and upland sheep farmers, by gathering questionnaire information from both farmers and veterinary practices. In parallel, focus farms will be identified, their parasite challenge assessed and their approach to internal parasite control monitored over a full production year. After initial data collection and analysis, customised options for parasite control will be proposed, implemented and monitored on focus farms over the next production year. You will follow detailed sampling protocols and analysis with supervision from staff at SRUC, MRI and University of Edinburgh. Forecasting bio-economic modelling will be used to test the options available. After implementation, economic and performance data will be collected, to analyse the economic effects of improved disease control at farm level. This will allow practical recommendations on optimum internal parasite control on hill and upland sheep farms to be made.