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Animal Research Technician

Requisition ID:  1274

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Posted Date:  25-Nov-2019


We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


Salary: £25,941.00 - £27,511.00 

Closing Date: 18 December 2019


The role


We are seeking an enthusiastic and highly motivated Technician in Poultry Welfare to work as part of the Asher Behaviour Lab in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and with Lakes Free Range Egg Company. The post will be based in Penrith at Lakes Eggs headquarters, working alongside egg producers to collect data needed for research on smothering in laying hens. You will collect and collate data from a variety of sources and will be highly organised to ensure high standards in storing and labelling the data. You will also work to support a postdoctoral researcher to collect hen behaviour and physiology data as part of the wider project. The project is part of a collaboration between Newcastle University, the Lakes Free Range Egg Company, FAI, York University and Plymouth University and is funded by the BBSRC.  


You will ideally have experience in either a scientific or commercial farm setting. You will also have strong organisational skills and some previous experience of managing data.  You will be self-motivated, have excellent team working skills and the flexibility to pick up new skills. You must hold a full current UK driving licence and be willing to travel round the UK.


As part of Asher Behaviour Lab and the Animal Sciences Group at Newcastle University, you will be part of an interdisciplinary research group with skills in a range of behaviour informatics techniques. You will be provided with mentorship and training opportunities for personal development. You will work collaboratively with Lakes Free Range, reciprocally helping with parallel in-house research and monitoring activities.


This post is full-time and fixed term initially for three years. Applications for part time/flexible working will be considered; please state your desired working arrangements in your application.


For any informal enquiries, please contact Dr Lucy Asher (Senior Lecturer) via email: lucy.asher@newcastle.ac.uk OR David Whitaker (Biological Laboratory Research Team Leader) via email: david.whitaker@newcasle.ac.uk.


For further information about the Animal Science Group please visit : www.ncl.ac.uk/nes/research/agriculture/as/#ourethos .



Key Accountabilities


  • Under the direction of the Principle Investigator (PI) for the project and supported by the technical team leader for the activity, be responsible for, the day-to-day operation of specific facilities or pieces of equipment. To undertake fault diagnosis, testing, repair, calibration and preventative maintenance on instrumentation under the roles responsibility
  • To be responsible for the disposal of hazardous materials according to standard University procedures. Ensure compliance with relevant safety procedures including relevant risk assessments. In conjunction with the School safety officer monitor compliance with all statutory and local safety arrangements.
  • Under the direction of the PI, train and advise staff and research students in appropriate laboratory techniques and good laboratory practice to ensure that they are able to carry out their work in a safe manner. To provide laboratory supervision and training for staff, postgraduate and undergraduate project students and, occasionally, for other technical staff using the facilities to ensure safe working practices are followed.
  • Under the direction of the PI, identify consumable and equipment requirements and initiate their ordering according to the School and University purchasing procedures. Keep financial records of any activities as directed by the technical team leader.
  • Collect data on laying hens while based at a free-range egg laying farm in Penrith.
  • Set up audio equipment in rearing sheds and collect vocalisation recordings in an organised manner.
  • Review video footage of chickens and score the behaviour (e.g. for smothering events).
  • Collect eggs and perform techniques to separate egg albumen from yolk and arrange appropriate storage.
  • Organise and collate data collected from a variety of formats.
  • Work alongside egg producers and support the wider team on the laying hen farm and the wider project team.
  • Work with a postdoctoral researcher to collect physiological (e.g. heart rate and temperature) and behaviour recordings (e.g. novel object task) from commercial free-range poultry.
  • Any other duties within the scope and general nature of the grade which may be required.

The Person (Essential)


Knowledge, Skills and Experience


  • A current full UK driving licence is essential for this post
  • Background or interest in poultry physiology, behaviour or welfare
  • Background or interest in poultry production
  • Chicken handling experience
  • Understanding of chicken physiology
  • Experience with large datasets
  • Experience scoring behaviour from videos
  • Experience collecting data or samples from animals
  • Knowledge of commercial intensive poultry production
  • Experience as a technician in a scientific environment
  • Thorough working knowledge of Health and Safety procedures
  • Excellent team working skills
  • Willingness to travel around the UK

Attributes and Behaviour


  • Works collaboratively with others, plays a positive role in teams and establishes and grows relationships across the organisation where different skills, expertise and opinions are valued.
  • Shares relevant and useful information with others
  • Willing to help others and share workloads
  • Works in a planned and structured way
  • Ensures that all activities are completed on time
  • Looks at ways of overcoming obstacles rather than coming to a standstill
  • Keeps fellow team members up to date with progress
  • Pays attention to detail
  • Has a positive attitude for doing things better
  • Takes responsibility for achieving own targets
  • Co-operates with others to achieve targets
  • Strives to deliver high quality results
  • Is enthusiastic in getting job done on time



  • Apprenticeship in an appropriate subject with experience in a relevant technical role; or BTEC level 4 / HNC / HND; or A’ level (or equivalent) qualification; or broad work experience acquired through a combination of vocational training and considerable on-the job experience, demonstrating development through progressively more demanding relevant roles.
  • Desirable: Possession of an undergraduate degree in an appropriate area (such as agriculture or animal sciences, zoology or animal welfare)



Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


Requisition ID: 1274