Influence of farm hygiene standards and management practices on Johne’s disease progression in selected NI dairy herds
Applications are now CLOSED
Johne’s disease is present in dairy herds in Northern Ireland. However, the true herd prevalence is uncertain, and probably underestimated, because currently used diagnostic tests lack sensitivity. A new phage-based diagnostic test for detecting and quantifying the causative agent, Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (Map), has been developed at Queen’s University Belfast recently and is showing considerable promise as a Map research and surveillance tool. During the proposed project this new tool will be used to test faeces, milk and farm environmental samples from selected dairy herds in NI as part of a longitudinal study (i.e. multiple sampling visits to each farm over duration of project) and the farm hygiene and management practices will be assessed in parallel.
The aim will be to determine if farms with very high standards of hygiene, during calving and milking particularly, are able to avoid progression to clinical cases of JD (the most infectious stage) and positive diagnostic test results in comparison to farms with lower standards. The study will involve developing a farm hygiene standards questionnaire, collection of samples from cattle on farms, laboratory testing of milk, faeces, blood, and potentially modelling of results with disease progression.
This project will be supervised by Professor Irene Grant and Professor Niamh O’Connell (Queen’s University School of Biological Sciences) and Dr Sam Strain (Animal Health Ireland).
Specific skills/experience required by applicants:
A dairy farming background would be advantageous, but the candidate will also be required to carry out microbiological testing of milk, faeces, and environmental samples, so must have a lab-based primary degree and some microbiology experience.
All applicants must meet the academic entry requirements: https://www.qub.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-research/biological-sciences-phd.html#entry
This project is in competition for funding.
Only UK and EU students are eligible to apply. Before applying, it is strongly recommended that you read the full information on eligibility criteria available from DfE: https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/economy/post-graduate-studentships-terms-conditions-19-20.pdf.
Please note in particular that not all successful applicants may be eligible to receive a full studentship (i.e. fees and stipend) - please read in detail the Residency and Citizenship requirements in the document linked to above.