My PhD is focused on nutrition during gestation and early-life in pigs and how diet may influence performance, welfare and gut health. I officially started in October 2017 and I can’t believe how quickly the first year has flown by!
I had the opportunity to speak at two conferences at the beginning of the year, which was daunting but great practice. I also completed my three-month placement over the summer at Primary Diets, a piglet nutrition company. I am glad we decided to do this during my first year as it meant I got to learn a lot about pig nutrition and how the industry side works. As part of this I was able to go out to farm and feed mills visits, as well as attend various training days so I was often out of the office learning about different aspects of nutrition and the company.
I also have just finished my first trial and so have spent the past couple of months out on the university farm. I have been looking at how diet may be used to reduce aggression and stress, and have been collecting a variety of performance, welfare, behavioural and cortisol measurements. I really enjoy being out on the farm and Helen, Mary, Annika and Lauren have all been out to help me collect samples (especially saliva which often required two people and various yoga poses!). I used older pigs for this first study to establish whether the dietary change works how we are expecting, before hopefully applying it to sows and/or piglets. I will be starting the data analysis in January and am excited to see what the results are!
This first year has been challenging but also really exciting and I am looking forward to the next year ahead!