Emma Hutcheon, 26 from Stone, Staffordshire, is a recipient of Barham Benevolent Foundation Scholarship. Her course focuses on improving the nutrition and management of dairy cows, investigating social factors that influence health in the transition period.
“When I saw this PhD advertised, I knew I had to apply for it as it was specific to transition cow health, which is my biggest passion. It was a big step leaving my full time job as a ruminant nutritionist to do this PhD, as I really loved my job and working with farmers. But it has definitely been the right move and it will have huge benefits for my career, opening so many doors.
“I had just covered transition cow nutrition in my thesis, looking specifically at choline supplementation as part of my part-time Masters in Ruminant Nutrition; which was also done at Harper Adams, so the timing was also perfect.
“My research will be 50.50 natural science and social science, which is fairly uncommon. I’ll be interviewing farmers as well as analysing the way they manage their transition cows, looking in depth into the nutrition aspect, as well as measuring cow comfort and housing. A lot of the above I have been involved in and thoroughly enjoyed as part of my previous job.
“No research has yet been done looking into social factors that impact transition cow health, so it’s exciting to be a part of something new and largely un-investigated. I have a great supervisory team to work with, with my main supervisor Dr Philip Robinson being a vet, as well as having a PhD in social science methods investigating TB.
“I am very grateful to have found a project which suits mine and my supervisor’s interests so perfectly. None of this would be possible without the sponsorship from the Barham Benevolent Foundation.
“My background has been largely focused on working with dairy cows. I worked on a block calving herd for about 7 years, and throughout my BSc degree. After leaving university I worked in a vet practice where I was involved in running veterinary CPD courses on embryo transfer, cattle nutrition and fertility. I was trained to AI, foot trim and fertility-test bulls. I then joined a feed firm as a ruminant nutritionist for four years, specialising in dairy cow nutrition and managing all of the young stock products. This was a great opportunity and also led to me visiting Holland to become a Cow Signals Master Trainer.
“Whilst working as a nutritionist I completed my masters in Ruminant Nutrition at Harper Adams on a part-time basis. I now live a short distance from the university in Stone with my fiancé, on a tenanted farm which we applied for together, where we milk 200 Holsteins.