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Chick on Feed

Examining the impact of different forms of mineral on phytase and vitamin activities in poultry diets

  • School: School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
  • Starting: 2019
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK)


An exciting opportunity has arisen through a 3.5 year poultry nutrition PhD studentship jointly funded by Alltech and Nottingham Trent University; primarily based at the University’s Brackenhurst Campus.

Alltech is a family-owned and family-operated organisation with nearly 40 years of experience and a 6,000-strong team spanning more than 120 countries. Alltech aims to improve plant, feed and food quality through nutrition and scientific innovation, particularly yeast-based technology. Nottingham Trent University has recently been awarded University of the Year (Times Higher), Modern University of the Year (Sunday Times), and received a Gold award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). It is renowned for leading edge research, strong links with industry and excellent teaching that shapes lives and society.

Phosphorus is a key nutrient for poultry: undersupply leads to impaired skeletal development but oversupply contributes to environmental pollution. A second layer of complexity comes from variation in form of phosphorus. Plant materials contain phosphorus but in a form that birds cannot use: phytate phosphorus. Therefore, the bird must be offered either a mineral form of phosphorus that it can easily use, or aided in breaking down the phytate into usable phosphorus. Two forces are driving the poultry sector to decrease dietary inclusion of mineral phosphates in favour of phytases. Firstly, finite global supply of phosphates and supply chain insecurity have increased their cost, and secondly, a desire to minimise the environmental footprint of poultry production. However, it is acknowledged that in practice a margin of safety used around the usable P value ascribed to phytase in a formulation matrix due to the health consequences of undersupplying usable  P. Increasing both our understanding of how extrinsic factors impact on phytase efficacy and also how phytase itself influences other key nutrients will increase the precision of our nutrient supply to poultry.

The PhD project will begin by assessing the interaction between minerals and phytase in poultry by assessment of the gap between P supply and requirement and looking at the impact of mineral source on phytase activity/P availability. Subsequent trials will assess vitamin and mineral interactions by quantifying the impact of premix/feed storage on phytase activity/P availability and potentially assessing the impact of mineral source on Vitamin E availability.

Applicants are required to submit a completed application form and a research proposal document of not more than 1000 words including references that outlines potential techniques available to address the objectives outlined above.

For informal discussions, please contact

Interviews for this studentship will be conducted on 29 August.


Dr Dawn Scholey

Dr Emily Burton

Entry qualifications

To be eligible to apply, you must hold, or expect to obtain by July 2019, a BSc Hons (2:1 or above) in Animal Science or a relevant discipline and also must be classed as a UK Home or EU student.

The ability to drive in the UK would be advantageous in this studentship to maximise opportunities for engagement with the industrial sponsor.

The successful candidate will be required to undertake a PhD research programme that meets needs of the industrial sponsor while making a significant, novel contribution to the research field.

Applicants should outline how their skills and attributes will help them to achieve these objectives.

How to apply

How to apply

Applications close at 11.59 pm on Thursday 15 August 2019.

Download an application form here.
Please make sure you take a look at our application guidance notes before making your application.

Further information on how to apply can be found on this page.

Fees and funding

This is a fully funded studentship (3.5 years Home fees and UKRI equivalent stipend) funded jointly by NTU and Alltech.

Guidance and support

Further information on guidance and support can be found on this page.

Still need help?

Dawn Scholey