Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Dam-rearing of dairy calves: the effect of duration of cow-calf-contact on the strength of the maternal bond

Applications are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Technical Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Animal Science programme. The position is available from 1 November 2020 or later.

Title:
Dam-rearing of dairy calves: the effect of duration of cow-calf-contact on the strength of the maternal bond

Research area and project description:
Dairy calves are typically separated from the mother cow at birth. The practise is increasingly criticised for preventing natural nursing and bonding, but research on benefits for the cow is lacking. This project will measure the strength of the maternal bond and the motivation to nurse in dairy cows housed full-time or part-time with their calves compared to cows separated from their calf at birth.

The maternal bond is evident as selective preference for and response to separation from the young, and the strength of the bond can be measured by the motivation to reunite with the young. Among measures of motivation, ‘elasticity of demand functions’ and ‘maximum price paid’ are the most commonly applied in animal behaviour science. However, elasticity of demand requires repeated rewards of controlled duration within sessions, which may devalue the reward if interactions are interrupted. Maximum price paid is the largest cost the animal will overcome for uninterrupted access to the goal, but this method can lead to frustration, high between-individual variation, and a risk of a ceiling effect. Therefore, the project will develop a novel method of measuring maximum price paid where a less attractive alternative, which may partially substitute the goal, is available at a low cost. Provision of nourishment is a key element of maternal care, but whether nursing itself is important to the dairy cow has received little attention. The project will quantify the strength of cows’ motivation to nurse versus only groom its own calf by adapting methods using a cross-point analysis of concurrent demand functions.

The experimental work will be conducted at the cattle research facilities at Aarhus University, Foulum, including 90 cows housed either full-time or part-time with their calves, or separated from their calves within 24 h after calving.

The PhD student will be part of a research team working on cow-calf-contact.

Qualifications and specific competences:
Applicants must have a relevant Master’s Degree in animal science or veterinary science.

Place of employment and place of work:
The place of employment is Aarhus University, and the place of work is Research Centre Foulum.

Contacts:
Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact:

Senior researcher Margit Bak Jensen, Department of Animal Science, Telephone: +45 8715 7941, e-mail: Margitbak.jensen@anis.au.dk

 

Application procedures

Before you apply

Information and attachments:

Please be aware that you must have all relevant appendices, attachments, addresses for referees, etc. ready when you apply, as the entire application must be uploaded to the system in one go.

Documentation of language skills:

The English language requirement at the graduate school is comparable to an “English B level” in the Danish upper secondary school (“gymnasium”).

English language qualifications comparable to an “English B level” are documented by one of the following tests:

  • TOEFL test (internet-based), minimum score: 83. The graduate school does not accept the paper-based test, nor the TOEFL ITP test. Remember to ask the test center to send your test results to Aarhus University in order to enable verification of your test results. Aarhus University’s TOEFL code is 8935.
    Currently, the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test (available in selected areas) will also be accepted.
  • IELTS (academic) test, minimum average score: 7.0 points
    Please note, from 1 June 2020 the Graduate School of Science and Technology will be split in two following the split of the faculty. For the two new schools, Graduate School of Natural Sciences and Graduate School of Technical Sciences, the minimum average score requirement for an IELTS test is 7.0 points (equivalent of a C1 level).
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment:
    Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (CPE)
    Cambridge English: Certificate of Advanced English with grade A,B or C (CAE)
    Cambridge English: First Certificate with grade A (FCE)

When to take the test and how to upload the documentation:
The test result must not be more than two years old at the time of application.

The English language test should be taken before applying for admission and uploaded under “language skills documentation” in the online application form.

It is possible to apply for admission before you have taken the test. In this case documentation stating that you have signed up for a test (please state expected submission date) must be uploaded. If the test result is not part of the original application the test result is to be sent to gsts@psys.au.dk no later than one month after the application deadline.

The following applicants are exempted from documenting their English qualifications/taking a test:

  • Applicants with citizenship from the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, or one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden).
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme completed in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States. In this case, please upload your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma under the section ”Language skills documentation”.
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme completed at a Danish university for which the requirement was English B level at the time of admission. In this case, please upload your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma under the section ”Language skills documentation”.

The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.

How to apply:

1)      Find the application form:
Go to www.phd.tech.au.dk/for-applicants/apply-here - Note, the online application system opens on 2 June 2020.
Choose August 2020 Call with deadline 1 August 2020 at noon (11.59 AM CEST).
You will be directed to the call, and must choose the programme “Animal Science”.

2)      Fill in the following information:

  • Personal information
  • Academic background
  • Admission
  • Financing (if any)
  • Study: In the dropdown menu you must choose the project: “Dam-rearing of dairy calves: the effect of duration of cow-calf-contact and the calf’s dependency on the strength of the maternal bond”
  • Source (how you found out about the call)

Next to some of the information fields you will find a number. Click on the number to get further directions on how to fill in the information field/what information is needed.

3)      Application attachments:
Please be aware that you cannot submit the application if one or several of these documents have not been uploaded.

If you wish to upload more than one document under each section, you must scan/merge all documents into one large PDF file and upload this. Please note that we reserve the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and the like. Instead you can indicate a URL where the information is available.

All information in the application must be in English or Danish, preferably English. A certified English translation is required for documents written in languages other than English or one of the Scandinavian languages (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish or Danish) languages.

As a minimum all applications must include (pdf-files only, max. 20 MB, no zip):

  • One reference (template for references)
  • Curriculum vitae,
  • Motivation (max. 1 page)
  • Transcripts, grade point averages (weighted and unweighted), and diploma(s) for both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. If the original documents are not in English or one of the Scandinavian languages (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish or Danish) then copies of the original documents as well as a certified English translation must be attached.
  • Project description (½-4 pages). For technical reasons, you must upload a project description. When - as here - you apply for a specific project, please simply copy the project description above, and upload it as a PDF in the application. If you wish to, you can indicate an URL where further information can be found. Please note that we reserve the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and the like.
  • Documentation of language skills if required.

After submission of the application, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with an application ID, you should use for reference if needed.

The graduate school reserves the right to verify the authenticity of your educational diploma and transcripts:

  • Request additional information to verify an application.
  • Reject the application if it is proven, or if the University has reasonable belief, that the information provided is false or if the applicant refuses to provide the requested information, whether or not an offer has already been made. 
  • For further information on applying, assessment procedures, etc. please see the GSTS Application Guide.

Please note:

  • The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.
  • The project will only be initiated if final funding (from the graduate school/the faculty) is secured.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background.

18882 / i43