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Research Assistant – Temporary for 6 months

Reference: 02-02-24

Salary: £22,770 - £23,550 per annum, based on experience

Closing date: 26/02/2024

About the role

We are delighted to offer a 6-month research assistant post to work on Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technologies in grazing sheep.

This is an exciting opportunity to be involved in a large European project, taking a multi-actor and interdisciplinary approach to improve the management and welfare of small ruminants in grazing systems using PLF technologies.

PLF technologies have been widely adopted in the management of high-value animals (e.g. dairy cattle) but the development has been slow for livestock species deemed to have lower individual/economic value, e.g. small ruminants. This is despite the significant advantages that could be achieved by applying these technologies to improve both management and welfare.  The limited previous studies that have been done have identified several benefits of using PLF approaches within extensive sheep systems. With farmers now looking to make improvements to their flock management, in areas such as efficiency, labour-use, performance and welfare, there has been a growing interest in the development of suitable PLF technologies. This role will investigate the use of different PLF technologies in field studies with the main aim of improving the detection of disease in grazing sheep, in order to improve management and welfare.

The post holder will work within two multi-partner, EU-funded projects; ‘TechCare’ (https://techcare-project.eu) is focused on testing PLF technologies that could be used for monitoring/improving performance, health and welfare in sheep grazing systems. The second project, Sm@RT (https://smartplatform.network/) is focused on identifying farmers needs, wants and challenges with PLF tools on farm throughout small ruminant farms in Europe.

In TechCare, the postholder will assist with trials conducted at the Institute farm to test PLF technologies (accelerometer, proximity logger, GPS) as a means of early disease detection in grazing sheep. The postholder will be responsible for the upkeep and preparation of the various technologies, deployment on animals, data collection, organisation and archiving, as well as assisting in the collection of metadata (individual animal welfare indicators, weight and disease incidence data (e.g. gastrointestinal faecal egg count, mastitis, lameness and orf occurrence) from these field trials. The postholder will also spend a small amount of time (~10%) assisting with the dissemination of information generated through the Sm@RT project on user needs, interests and challenges of using PLF technologies on small ruminant farms across Europe.

The postholder will be based within the parasitology group at the Moredun Research Institute working closely with PhD students and staff in both the Hill & Mountain Research Centre and the Animal Behaviour and Welfare Group at SRUC.

Experience required

You will have:

  • A background in agriculture or animal science
  • A degree in an appropriate field (e.g. biology/agriculture/technology), or equivalent experience
  • A confident approach to working with animals, technology, and people
  • A highly organised and conscientious approach to data collection and recording
  • Worked with large animals
  • An interest in the use of sensor or digital technology that can be applied to farm situations and a desire to use different approaches to practically improve animal management on farm.

Experience in applied parasitological techniques, such as nematode faecal egg counts is desirable.

How to apply

To apply, please complete the application form and email the completed form to [email protected].

Staff benefits

In addition to access to training and development opportunities, you will access to:

  • Competitive pension scheme –Moredun contributing up to a maximum of 15%.
  • Group Life Assurance Scheme and an Income Protection Scheme
  • Flexi-time system
  • 6 weeks annual leave plus 7 days public holidays and a privilege day
  • Free access to an Employee Assistance Programme
  • Benefits platform offering discounts at various retailers
  • On site café.

The Moredun Group operates a number of policies including access to a family healthcare scheme and flexible working arrangements. We are committed to creating a positive and inclusive environment, respecting equality and diversity and encouraging good relations.  We welcome applications from people irrespective of their age, sex, religion or belief, race, disability or sexual orientation.

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