Assessing potential environmental enrichment for young dairy cattle

This project will investigate dairy calves’ usage of various items added to the pen and how these items influence other aspects of their time budgets. The goal is to identify items that have potential to improve welfare and promote normal behaviour.

Department: Animal Dairy & Food Chain Sciences

Supervised by: Dr. Rebecca Meagher

The Placement Project

This project will form part of a new research programme on housing for young dairy cattle. Various objects that might appeal to calves (e.g. teats) will be added to their pens. The student will be trained to conduct observations on general behaviour of the calves, such as resting time, and time interacting with each item. He or she will also help to conduct regular health checks on the calves. This study will inform future, larger-scale work on appropriate housing for good welfare and normal behavioural and cognitive development. In addition to opportunities to participate in data collection, analysis, and report writing, and to observe the development of a research project, the student will be encouraged to observe and learn about other projects and management procedures at the Centre for Dairy Research.


Data collection, compiling and preliminary analysis of data, and report writing.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Interest in animal behaviour and welfare are required. Prior experience with dairy cattle or other farm animals is an asset. This project will require the ability to get to CEDAR independently (drivers’ license and/or willingness to travel there by bus or cycle).

Skills which will be developed during the placement

Skills developed will include behavioural observation, data analysis, and knowledge of the dairy industry and calf health. The poster session in the autumn will also allow the development of communication skills.

Place of Work

CEDAR Centre for Dairy Research, Sonning / University of Reading, Whiteknights campus, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development (SAPD, Agriculture Building)

Hours of Work


Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Wednesday 14 June 2017 - Friday 25 August 2017

How to Apply

Submit a CV and cover letter to Dr Rebecca Meagher ( Applicants will be shortlisted for interview after the closing date.

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