Phd Researcher "Development Of Innovative Tools For Health Monitoring In Dairy Cows"
KU Leuven Livestock Technology Group

Phd Researcher "Development Of Innovative Tools For Health Monitoring In Dairy Cows"


Technological advances in livestock production provide many new opportunities to optimize and improve sustainability on farm with minimal environmental impact and a guaranteed welfare for both animal and farmer. The Livestock Technology group of KU Leuven, led by Prof. Ben Aernouts, develops, implements and validates innovative sensor technology and data processing algorithms to support the animal management on farm. Our research lab is located at the KU Leuven campus in Geel, in a green and rural environment, and is operating in close collaboration with the industry and livestock sector.


Supported by improved genetics and management practices, the cows’ milk production almost doubled over the last 50 years. Just like top athletes, these animals need a lot of care and attention to maintain a good health and welfare and achieve maximum production levels with minimal environmental impact. On the other hand, the high volatility of the milk price forces the dairy sector to focus on profitability and risk management by upscaling their business. Therefore, to better manage their expanding herds, dairy farmers require reliable technology to monitor the health, production, behavior, welfare and environmental impact of individual animals.


Sensor technology is already well-integrated in dairy farming with applications in measuring milk production, milk quality, feed intake, animal behavior and condition, etc. Nevertheless, most of these systems produce an overload of data, rather than clear, useful and accurate information ready to use by the farmer to optimize its animal management. The essence of precision livestock farming is about correctly interpreting the collected data and extracting reliable information using advanced data-processing techniques. Ideally, these intelligent algorithms provide explicit information on the cow’s health and welfare status by combining different sources of sensor data and relying on physiology-based knowledge.

In this project, data-based tools to monitor the udder health and energy balance of dairy cows will be developed, validated and implemented. To this end, both data obtained from sensors already widely available on modern dairy farms as well as innovative technologies will be involved. At the end of this 4-year PhD project, the practical implementation of the obtained models and knowledge will help dairy farmers to increase animal health and welfare, make more efficient use of labor and medicines, improve profitability and create a wider social support for sustainable dairy farming.


To perform this practice-oriented research, the Livestock Technology group of KU Leuven is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate.


If you:

hold a MSc degree (with minimal distinction and obtained in the last 3 years at a university in the EEA) in biosciences, bioscience-engineering, bioinformatics, biostatistics, veterinary medicine or equivalent

have a creative, critical, analytical and innovative mindset

have excellent oral and written communication skills in Englis

are eager to work in a multidisciplinary team of national and international researchers and learn and explore innovative technologies

have strong interest in dairy farming, technology and scientific research

are interested in building a career in data science


Then you are THE candidate we are looking for and we would like you to apply for this interesting PhD position.

Experience with scientific data-processing software (such as Matlab, Python, R, C or equal) and modeling is a plus.


We offer a fulltime PhD position for 4 years, starting on the 1st September 2019 or sooner and with an evaluation after 1 year. Our young, dynamic and multidisciplinary team will support you in all aspects to successfully obtain a PhD degree and a proper scientific training at our top-ranked university. You will work closely together with the research center for dairy production “Hooibeekhoeve” and experts in the field. You will have opportunities to participate at national and international meetings and conferences, establish your own network and gain experience in knowledge transfer.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Ben Aernouts, tel.: +32 14 72 13 64, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than June 01, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Engineeroxy


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