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
BLGY3021 - Research Project
BLGY3105 - Applied Animal Science
BLGY3345 - Biology Integrated Research Projects
BLGY5380M - Extended Research Project

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 )


Hannah Davis (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Sophie Hazelden (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Anna Lavery (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Tegan Sutton (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Emily Bushby (Co-supervisor) 33% FTE

Taylor AE, Bedford MR, Pace SC, Miller HM The effects of phytase and xylanase supplementation on performance and egg quality in laying hens. British poultry science, 2018
View abstract

Taylor AE, Bedford MR, Miller HM The effects of xylanase on grower pig performance, concentrations of volatile fatty acids and peptide YY in portal and peripheral blood Animal 1-6, 2018
View abstract

van Wettere WHEJ, Toplis P, Miller HM Effect of oral progesterone and caffeine at the end of gestation on farrowing duration and piglet growth and survival. Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience 1-4, 2017
View abstract

Laird S, Kühn I, Wilcock P, Miller HM The effects of phytase on grower pig growth performance and ileal inositol phosphate degradation Journal of Animal Science 94 142-145, 2016
View abstract

Taylor AE, Slade RD, Miller HM Phosphorus equivalency value of a commercial phytase in weaner pigs Journal of Animal Science 94 125-128, 2016
View abstract

Miller HM, Slade RD, Taylor AE High dietary inclusion levels of phytase in grower-finisher pigs Journal of Animal Science 94 121-124, 2016
View abstract

Taylor AE, Jagger S, Toplis P, Wellock IJ, Miller HM The effects of previous dietary Lys concentration on subsequent growth performance of two different pig genotypes LIVESTOCK SCIENCE 176 121-128, 2015

Greathead HMR, Eisler MC, Lee MRF, Tarlton JF, Martin GB, Beddington J, Dungait JAJ, Liu J, Mathew S, Miller H, Misselbrook T, Murray P, Vinod VK, Van Saun R, Winter M Steps to sustainable livestock Nature 507 32-34, 2014

Taylor AE, Jagger S, Toplis P, Wellock IJ, Miller HM Are compensatory live weight gains observed in pigs following lysine restriction during the weaner phase? LIVESTOCK SCIENCE 157 200-209, 2013

Taylor AE, Toplis P, Wellock IJ, Miller HM The effects of genotype and dietary lysine concentration on the production of weaner pigs Livestock Science 149 180-184, 2012
View abstract

Sargeant HR, Miller HM, Shaw MA Inflammatory response of porcine epithelial IPEC J2 cells to enterotoxigenic E. coli infection is modulated by zinc supplementation MOL IMMUNOL 48 2113-2121, 2011

Slade RD, Kyriazakis I, Carroll SM, Reynolds FH, Wellock IJ, Broom LJ, Miller HM Effect of rearing environment and dietary zinc oxide on the response of group-housed weaned pigs to enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli O149 challenge ANIMAL 5 1170-1178, 2011

Sargeant HR, McDowall KJ, Miller HM, Shaw MA Dietary zinc oxide affects the expression of genes associated with inflammation: Transcriptome analysis in piglets challenged with ETEC K88 VET IMMUNOL IMMUNOP 137 120-129, 2010

Reynolds FH, Forbes JM, Miller HM Does the newly weaned piglet select a zinc oxide supplemented feed, when given the choice? ANIMAL 4 1359-1367, 2010

Miller HM, Toplis P, Slade RD Can outdoor rearing and increased weaning age compensate for the removal of in-feed antibiotic growth promoters and zinc oxide? LIVEST SCI 125 121-131, 2009

Thompson M, Miller H, Heritage J Down on the pharm - Antibiotics and animal husbandry Biologist 54 116-120, 2007
View abstract

Miller HM, Carroll SM, Reynolds FH, Slade RD Effect of rearing environment and age on gut development of piglets at weaning LIVESTOCK SCIENCE 108 124-127, 2007

Broom LJ, Miller HM, Kerr KG, Knapp JS Effects of zinc oxide and Enterococcus faecium SF68 dietary supplementation on the performance, intestinal microbiota and immune status of weaned piglets RES VET SCI 80 45-54, 2006

Ilsley SE, Miller HM Effect of dietary supplementation of sows with quillaja saponins during gestation on colostrum composition and performance of piglets suckled ANIM SCI 80 179-184, 2005

Ilsley SE, Miller HM, Kamel C Effects of dietary quillaja saponin and curcumin on the performance and immune status of weaned piglets J ANIM SCI 83 82-88, 2005

Miller HM, Foxcroft GR, Aherne FX Increasing feed intake in late gestation does not affect plasma progesterone concentration in the sow THERIOGENOLOGY 62 1618-1626, 2004

Barkley GR, Miller HM, Forbes JM The ability of laying hens to regulate phosphorus intake when offered two feeds containing different levels of phosphorus British Journal of Nutrition 92 233-240, 2004
View abstract

Ilsley SE, Miller HM, Greathead HMR, Kamel C Plant extracts as supplements for lactating sows: effects on piglet performance, sow food intake and diet digestibility. Animal Science 77 247-254, 2003

Wilkinson JM, Miller HM, McCracken KJ, Knox A, McNab J, Rose SP Effect of specific weight on the metabolizable energy content of four cultivars of wheat grain in ewes Animal Feed Science and Technology 105 215-224, 2003

Ilsley SE, Miller HM, Greathead HMR, Kamel C Supplementation of sow diets with plant extracts enhances piglet growth prior to weaning, 2002

Miller HM, Foxcroft GR, Aherne FX Increasing food intake in late gestation improved sow condition throughout lactation but did not affect piglet viability or growth rate Animal Science 71 141-148, 2000

Barkley GR, Forbes JM, Miller HM Phytase supplementation of diets for laying hens. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 59 pp.53-, 2000

Miller HM, Foxcroft GR, Squires J, Aherne FX The effects of feed intake and body fatness on progesterone matabolism in overiectomized gilts Journal of Animal Science 77 3253-3261, 1999

Miller HM Changes in the gene expression of progesterone receptor and prolactin receptor in sow mammary gland between late gestation and lactation. Unknown Journal - Requested journal to be added to ULPD 179-179, 1998

Miller HM Mung beans (Phaseolus aureus) for finishing pigs Animal Feed Science and Technology 66 297-303, 1997

Miller HM Gene expression of glucose transporter in sow mammary gland is correlated to milk yield. Unknown Journal - Requested journal to be added to ULPD 82-82, 1997