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PhD Position - Genetic differences in feed digestibility of dairy cows

Do you want to be part of the multidisciplinary SYNERGIA team of researchers from 5 Dutch universities working towards next-generation agricultural production …

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


Do you want to be part of the multidisciplinary SYNERGIA team of researchers from 5 Dutch universities working towards next-generation agricultural production systems that are sustainable, circular and regenerative? Do you have a background in Animal Science? Then this could be the perfect PhD opportunity for you!

Project description
The SYNERGIA research project, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). SYNERGIA goes beyond current precision agriculture and is developing the new concept of "Technology-4-Ecology-based farming" (T4E) where biological/ecological principles in farming lead the development of new farming systems, and of the required technological knowledge, principles and tools. Our multi-disciplinary team with biology, ecology, agronomy, technology and social science backgrounds will devise farming technologies to enable and support truly ecology-based farming systems.

Part of the SYNERGIA research project is aimed at understanding differences between cows. Dairy cattle breeding companies recently started recording feed intake of individual cows and it is expected that this information will substantially contribute to increased feed efficiency of dairy cattle and a corresponding reduction of the environmental impact. Currently it is unknown how feed efficiency is related to feed digestibility, which is relevant for the future role of dairy cattle in sustainable food production systems. By means of modelling and data analyses we will obtain insight in the complex interplay of nutritional and genetic factors on feed efficiency and feed digestibility.

We are looking for a talented, motivated and outstanding PhD candidate with enthusiasm for interdisciplinary research challenges at the interface of animal nutrition and selective breeding.
The successful candidate will be supervised by Henk Bovenhuis (Animal Breeding and Genomics, WUR) and Jan Dijkstra (Animal Nutrition, WUR). The candidate will closely collaborate with an animal nutrition PhD candidate in collecting experimental data on approximately 400 dairy cows on commercial dairy farms in the Netherlands. The data will be used by both PhD students where one PhD student will focus on modelling nutritional aspects and the other will focus on genetic and selective breeding aspects.

We offer the opportunity to perform scientifically challenging research in a multi-disciplinary research group in collaboration with several key academic and industrial partners in next-generation agricultural production systems.

The PhD student will be part of the graduate school Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS) and will be offered a course program tailored to the needs and the research. More information about PhD Programmes for Prospective PhD Candidates: https://www.wur.nl/en/Education-Programmes/PhD-Programme.htm


  • An MSc degree in animal sciences with specialization animal breeding or a comparable degree;
  • A demonstrable interest or experience with animal nutrition is a plus;
  • Relevant training: Article 9 license Experiments on Animals act is desired;
  • Good Dutch oral communication skills is preferable;
  • Excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page
  • Be in the possession of a driver's license;
  • Experience in handling dairy cattle is preferable.
A successful candidate should have the ability to conduct interdisciplinary research, work autonomously and act as a team player.

Experimental data will be collected on commercial dairy farms in the Netherlands and therefore candidates should preferably have experience in handling dairy cattle, be able to communicate in Dutch and be in the possession of a driver's license.


Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours.

We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the "Best University" in the Netherlands for the 16th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad Wageningen
University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen.

Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

Additional information

Do you want more information?
For more information about this position (requirements and expected scientific activities) you can contact Jan Dijkstra (Associate professor Animal Nutrition), email: Jan.Dijkstra@wur.nl, or Henk Bovenhuis (Personal chair Animal Breeding and Genomics), email: Henk.Bovenhuis@wur.nl

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

In this first round please only send your resume and motivation letter. Any other documents will not be taken into consideration at this stage, but will be asked to present in the following stage.

A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 20th of September 2021. We hope to schedule the first job interviews soon after this closing date.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.