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Postdoc position in automatic tracking of individual free range use in laying hens (1.0 FTE)

Utrecht University's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is looking for a Postdoc. Are you interested? Then please read the full profile and apply

9 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2588 - € 4084 per maand


For the European Core Organic project ‘FreeBirds’, we are looking for a motivated Postdoc to investigate behaviour and welfare of organic laying hens. This research project is conducted in close collaboration between Utrecht University in The Netherlands and the ILVO in Ghent, Belgium. At the ILVO, we will make use of a unique research facility that allows automatic monitoring of free range use of individual laying hens, using ultra-wideband RFID tracking. Half of the birds comes from a conventional rearing system, while the other half was reared with access to dark brooders (artificial mothers). The effects of these dark brooders on behaviour and welfare will be investigated as well. Additionally, half of the free range of each group is planted with short-rotation coppice willows and the other half with small hazelnut trees. Differences in free range use between both types of tree cover will be investigated as well.

The main tasks of the Postdoc are:

  • monitor free range laying hens and investigate how free range use influences behaviour and welfare of individual laying hens (fearfulness, plumage condition and keel bone damage);
  • investigate whether and how dark brooders affect behaviour, welfare and free range use;
  • investigate how free range cover affects use of the free range (short rotation coppice versus hazelnut areas);
  • investigate the role of age of the hens, time of day and weather conditions on free range use in laying hens;
  • investigate the relationships between free range use and parasites and nutrients in the soil;
  • take a coordinating role in the execution of the research and the data collection, process and analyse the data and describe the results in at least two peer-reviewed scientific journals.


We look for a person with a PhD in Animal Science, Bio-engineering, Veterinary Science or Biology, with experience with farm animal behaviour and welfare research, preferably poultry. Experience with automatic tracking methods and with linking tracking data to other types of data would be a strong advantage (data processing, data analysis, statistical methods). Experience with fear tests and body condition scoring in poultry is also an advantage. As the project is part of a larger European project, excellent communication skills in English, both orally and written, are very important, as are good social and collaborative skills. A driver’s license, valid in The Netherlands and Belgium is important, as a part of the position would be based at the ILVO in Belgium and a part at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. Ideally, the Postdoc would spend the first year stationed in Ghent and the second year stationed in Utrecht. The start date of the position is 1 July 2018.


We offer a position which covers many different aspects in an exciting working environment with a lot of space for personal development. We offer a fulltime position, initially for a period of two years. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €2,588 and €4,084 (scale 10 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. We offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information is available at: working at Utrecht University.

The appointment will take place at Utrecht University. For the time period the {ostdoc works at the ILVO, it is expected that he or she will follow the locals rules of the ILVO.

Additionele informatie

For more information about this position, please contact Prof. Bas Rodenburg, professor in Animal Welfare, through t.b.rodenburg@uu.nl (+31 30 253 29 67) or Prof. Frank Tuyttens, group leader Farm Animal Welfare & Behaviour, ILVO, through frank.tuyttens@ilvo.vlaanderen.be (+32 92 72 26 05).

Do not send your application to either one of these e-mail addresses.