Hartpury PhD student earns scholarship to support dairy calf research

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Aisling Carroll, a PhD student and Programme Manager at Hartpury University, has been awarded an Edgar Pye Research Trust Scholarship. The scholarship will provide funding for a research project investigating the effects of probiotic use among dairy calves in order to promote overall health and wellbeing.

Calf mortality is acritical challenge for the UK and Irish dairy industry, affecting the number of dairy heifers in a production system and presenting significant financial repercussions for farmers. The study will consider bacterial infections, environmental and husbandry factors, as well as exploring the use of a probiotic supplement and its potential impact during key management events (such as a change in housing or weaning).

The sample population will consist of Holstein heifer calves located at Hartpury Home Farm, a commercial farm that not only provides research opportunities for college, undergraduate and postgraduate students, but also supplies Marks & Spencer, Muller, Frontier and Morrisons.

It is hoped that the study can provide recommendations to calf rearing systems within the UK and Ireland regarding the supplementation of a probiotic. Publication of the study and its findings is expected in 2024. The research will be supported by Hartpury University and assisted by academics from the University of the West of England Bristol and Harper Adams University. Hartpury’s Agri-Tech Centre, a £2 million centre for smart farming technology and data-driven research on site, will also be utilised as a forum for industry discussion.

The Edgar Pye Research Scholarship is open to anyone who is either studying agriculture or a related subject, or who is already employed in the UK or Irish animal feed industry. The awards are given to an applicant who, in the opinion of the judging panel, has most capably identified an area of relevant research, prepared a programme thoroughly, provided a realistic budget and presented a clear proposal. This year’s panel of judges included Jim Fordyce, David Wilde, Richard Remmer and Dr Jules Taylor-Pickard.

Aisling, who in addition to studying a PhD also works as a Lecturer and Programme Manager for Hartpury University’s BSc (Hons) Applied Animal Science with Therapy and BSc (Hons) Bioveterinary Science, said: “I am very grateful to the Edgar Pye Research Trust and the judging panel who will greatly support my study through this scholarship funding. Here at Hartpury University, we’re passionate about carrying out research that can truly make a difference in the real world.”

“I’m hopeful that my study will provide much needed clarity about the effectiveness of probiotics and their potential in improving calf health.”

This project is one example of a number of studies undertaken as part of the university’s well-establishedresearch degree programmes and PhDs. Research is fully integrated within all teaching and staff are research-active in the areas they teach. Many dissertations are embedded in larger scale research projects or linked with businesses and fellow educational institutions.

A new MSc Applied Agricultural Sciences degree, announced for 2022, is Hartpury University’s first official postgraduate agricultural degree, focusing on using science to improve protocols and sustainable solutions across the agricultural industry.

Hartpury University also recently launched a new Professional Certificate in Agricultural Enterprise Management for 2022; a part-time course designed for those working within the agricultural sector.

To support students, staff and agri-businesses to carry out scientific research that develops our understanding and industry best practice, Hartpury is developing a Digital Innovation Farm on site. The first phase of this 10-year vision includes our Agri-Tech Centre, launched in 2019, modern dairy parlour, and a £2 million Tech Box Park providing workshop spaces for research and innovation, currently in development.

100% of Hartpury Agriculture graduates enter meaningful employment within 15 months (Graduate Outcomes 2021). Hartpury University was also ranked number one in the UK for student satisfaction by full-time postgraduate students in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2021.

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