Faculty of Biological Sciences

Prof Helen Miller

BSc, Edinburgh; MAgrSc, Reading; PhD Aug 1996, Alberta.
Professor of Animal Bioscience
School of Biology

Contact:  Manton 8.21a, +44(0) 113 34 32842, email address for  

Research Interests

Nutrition and production of pigs and poultry

The overall aim of my research is to develop feeding systems which enhance animal health, performance and meat quality in a sustainable manner. This research requires a fundamental understanding of the underlying physiological, metabolic and genomic responses to nutrients so that mechanisms already existing within the animal may be triggered to respond in an optimal way. Two critical periods in the pig’s life are immediately after birth and immediately after weaning. The latter is of particular importance at present following the recent ban on in-feed antibiotic growth promoters which were used routinely in weaner feeds prior to 2006. This research involves defining fundamental changes in the pig that help it to be successful and how these may be stimulated by nutrition. A number of factors influence piglet success following weaning:

Sow and litter
  • Comparing piglets produced in our indoor versus our outdoor facilities we found that rearing environment affects both survival and performance. Can we use nutrition to equalise environment effects?
  • Certain feed additives e.g. zinc oxide, help pigs to resist disease. Can we create a similar response without using a heavy metal?
  • Another area we are investigating is the voluntary feed intake of the weaned animal since, unsurprisingly, pigs which eat well post weaning do better than those which do not, but what makes some pigs eat more than others at this time? We have developed a group feeding recording system to help us answer this question.

Other areas currently under investigation are:

  • Role of butyrate in stimulating gut development
  • Mode of action of ZnO in controlling pig diarrhoea
  • Developing sustainable alternatives to therapeutic use of heavy metals in pig diets
  • Feeding for enhanced meat quality (with University of Bristol)
  • Genomics of gut development

Funding for these projects currently comes from BBSRC, AHDB and industry.


Current Projects

Factors affecting reproductive seasonality

Developing diets/feeding and management strategies to maximise feed conversion efficiency, performance and sustainability in pigs and poultry

Incidence of zoonoses in different environments

Influence of diet on health and performance

Diet selection in pigs and poultry


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Nutrition and production of pigs and poultry

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Nutrient partitioning in pigs and poultry

See also:

Modules managed

BLGY2293 - Animal Physiology: from Ants to Whales
BLGY3105 - Applied Animal Science

Modules taught

BLGY2293 - Animal Physiology: from Ants to Whales
BLGY2301 - Research Experience and Skills Level 2
BLGY3021 - Research Project
BLGY3105 - Applied Animal Science
BLGY3340 - Biology Research Projects
BLGY3395 - Advanced Research Skills and Experience
BLGY3396 - Research Literature Review

Group Leader Prof Helen Miller  (Professor of Animal Bioscience)

Nutrition and production of pigs and poultry  

Dr Leon Broom  (Visiting Research Fellow)

Dr Amy Taylor  (Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow in Animal Science )

Mr Kevin White  (Research Technician)


Hannah Davis (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Steven Laird (Primary supervisor) 90% FTE
Anna Lavery (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Noraini Samat (Primary supervisor) 90% FTE