Economic viability of dairy cow-calf rearing in once-a-day milking systems

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021


Cradle Coast

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore


$28,597pa for 2 years

About the research project

It is common practice for commercial dairy farms to separate calves from their dams soon after birth and artificially rear them in indoor group pens. Separating cows and calves is distressing to both dam and offspring and is falling out of step with public expectations of farm animal welfare, however, the commercial reality of extended suckling systems faces several challenges. For example, grain and concentrate consumption are lower in suckled calves, milk letdown during milking can be impaired, and the 10L+ of milk a suckling calf consumes per day constitutes a considerable proportion of daily milk production for lower yielding dairy cattle common in pasture-based systems. On the other hand, feeding increased milk volumes to calves is now recommended, and there are benefits of dam suckling on calf health and growth, mastitis infection, labour requirements. This study will analyse thecommercial viability of cow-calf rearing in once-a-day milking systems through stakeholder engagement combined with economic modelling.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Megan Verdon


The scholarship supporting this project provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 2 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fee scholarship for up to 4 years (successful domestic applicants will be awarded an RTP Fees Offset and successful international applicants will be awarded a University of Tasmania Fees Offset)

The scholarship supporting this project is funded by the University of Tasmania and the Australian Government through the Research Training Program and the Destination Australia Program.


The project is open to domestic (Australia and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from International applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the PhD minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be commencing a new course of study with the University of Tasmania in the 2021 academic year
  • Applicants must already have been awarded a first-class Honours degree or hold equivalent qualifications or relevant and substantial research experience in an appropriate sector
  • Excellent written and verbal English language skills
  • Driver’s license

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate strong research and analytical skills
  • Applicants will need excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Applicants will need to be able to work independently and as part of a team
  • Applicant will need to attend Cradle Coast Campus at least once per week

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience with dairy production and/or modelling and/or social sciences

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Megan Verdon, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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