Full Professor of Healthy Dairy Farming, Utrecht - deadline 18 March 2018

The Chair of Healthy Dairy Farming (0.8 - 1.0 FTE) is a full-time position at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FVM) of Utrecht University. The Chair holder is responsible for education and research in the field of Integral Ruminant Health.

The Netherlands plays an important role in the world wide dairy industry. Many innovations in dairy production were initiated in the Netherlands. Dutch milk is perceived world-wide as healthy, wholesome and safe and the dairy industry has been leading the efforts to reduce antibiotic use on dairy farms. Hence, the dairy industry is a major player worldwide with an important contribution to the Dutch economy. Health management is a key component of this world-wide market value of the industry. With this Chair, the importance of health management in the total production process is further established.

The profession of the practising farm-animal veterinarian is changing from a role as guardian of animal health to a role as guardian of sustainable health and welfare, covering the interaction between animals, humans, environment, the micro- and macro-economics of the farm and the agricultural production chain. This approach is particularly far advanced in the current dairy sector, where many different interests and aspects must be balanced to ensure economically feasible, societally acceptable, structurally safe production where also animal and human health and animal welfare are safeguarded. Both the dairy industry and farmers increasingly demand support from veterinarians for a more integrated contribution to achieve and maintain a good balance between the many different aspects of animal health, public health and animal welfare on dairy and veal/beef farms. Although the focus of the Chair is on the health management of cattle, the scientific area of the Chair also includes health management on sheep and goat farms. The work of cattle veterinarians in curing diseased cows is more and more replaced by activities to prevent health problems and diseases and promote health and wellbeing. In addition, decisions by farmers are increasingly made in a context of animals and farms which are considered elements of complex production chains.

The Chair is situated within the Department of Farm Animal Health (FAH), one of the eight departments of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. The Department has three full-time Professors and seven part-time Professors. Some of these Professors are affiliated with GD Animal Health, Deventer, as part of a broader agreement between Utrecht University and GD Animal Health and have part-time positions at Utrecht University. Currently, the group of ruminant health has 7.2 FTE permanent academic staff, 1.3 FTE temporary academic staff and 1 FTE support staff. Of the academic staff, effectively approximately 2 FTE are focused on research. Most academic and support staff is involved in teaching within the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

The new Chair is expected to make strong connections with the other groups in the Department and with other Departments in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and has considerable input in the “One Health” research programme of the Veterinary faculty.

FAH has excellent teaching and research facilities related to ruminants, including a large and modern ruminant clinic, several well-equipped stables for research in small and medium-sized groups, a cattle herd, and a farm (“De Tolakker”), combining an organic cattle herd, pigs and sheep.

Ten years ago, the outpatient clinic was privatised by merging with an existing ruminant health practice to establish the University Farm Animal Health Practice (“Universitaire Landbouwhuisdieren Praktijk”, ULP) at Harmelen, near Utrecht. This has grown into the largest ruminant practice in the Netherlands. Students of the track farm animal health/veterinary public health of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine all spent time at the ULP for training and practical experience. The Chair will function as the Chief Scientific Officer of the ULP.



  • To formally act as a Coordinator, Mentor and Tutor of the field ‘Integral Ruminant’ in the Bachelor/Master Veterinary Medicine;
  • To review Ruminant Health in the Veterinary curriculum and initiate changes that help veterinarians to better accommodate future needs in this field of stakeholders and society in general;
  • Teaching of Bachelor and Master students in Ruminant Health within the Veterinary Medicine programme;
  • Post academic training and teaching in ‘Ruminant health’ for veterinarians. The Chair will also organize and supervise post graduate training, in close collaboration with Wageningen University, GD (Gezondheidsdienst voor Dieren) Animal Health, etc.;
  • The Chair will provide training of veterinarians aspiring to become Specialist in Bovine Health Management, the latter meeting the requirements of the European College of Bovine Health Management (ECVPH).


The Chair is expected to build up a research group fitting the One Health and Advances in Veterinary Research programmes of the faculty of Veterinary Medicine and:

  • developing and leading the fundamental and applied ruminant research of the Department of FAH, including the acquisition of research funding, including joint projects with the ruminant sector and industry and related business;
  • initiate new research projects, update teaching programmes, contribute to the earning capacity of the Department and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, by actively participating in fund raising in collaboration with industry, and involvement in international research competitions.
  • modernising and continuously improving education in ruminant health, considering the changes towards more integral health, thinking in terms of chains and systems and deriving insight and benefit from very diverse and substantial data;
  • leading the group of ruminant health (currently consisting of nine people, with various specialists related to ruminant health elsewhere in the Department);
  • the chair holder will act as chief scientific officer in the ULP;
  • interaction with the ruminant sector, governmental organisations and industry in the Netherlands and abroad, necessary to allow FAH to be successful, effective and relevant in this area, both academically and societally;
  • strengthen ties and collaborate with other (inter) national academic groups.



The chair holder will be expected to:

  • hold a DVM and PhD degree and preferably be a diplomat of European College of Bovine Health Management (ECBHM) or equivalent;
  • preferably hold a senior teaching qualification or equivalent;
  • have ecxcellent background and track record in ruminant health management as shown by:
    • senior authored publications in top scientific journals (top 10% of relevant ISI fields);
    • respectable citation record;
  • be recognised as a leader in ruminant health, in terms of internationally recognized research but also in either education or extension programmes;
  • have a track record with regard to research funding earning capacity, in particular a proven capability to set up and (externally) finance collaborative research programmes;
  • be recognized by the dairy sector, both nationally and internationally. The ideal candidate already has an extensive network in the Dutch ruminant sector, the dairy and veal/beef industry and governmental organisations, or has the proven ability and willingness to build such a network;
  • be open to collaboration, interested in expertise and opinions of others and an extra-ordinary capability to connect people from diverse interests and backgrounds;
  • be able, from one’s own area of expertise, to actively connect and integrate all (other) aspects relevant to the modern dairy industry;
  • be able to work outside existing paradigms and dogmas.
  • be an open communicator;
  • have a modern vision on education in ruminant health;
  • have a keen eye for new developments in dairy farming, and politically and societally sensitive, anticipating future changes and acting accordingly;
  • be open to the context of sustainable production, circularity and ecosystem-thinking and its relevance for the ruminant sector;
  • be a role model for both colleagues and students;
  • have excellent and proven leadership qualities, with the potential to play a future role in the management of FAH.

An overall perspective and a willingness to maintain and foster the relevant expertise within the Department is required of the candidate. The global nature of many Integral Ruminant Health problems (related to strong increases in global consumption of milk, meat, environmental risks, climate change) requires a global perspective.

The Chair should be an inspiring and innovative Teacher and have a strong commitment to the teaching programme of the curriculum. Direct teaching duties will include the education and supervision of Bachelor, Master and PhD students.



We offer a full-time permanent position. The gross salary varies, depending on previous qualifications and experience, between €5,334 and €7,766 gross per month (full-time appointment in scale H2 of the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities). Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. In addition, there are outstanding secondary benefits such as a minimum of 29 days holidays per year, study facilities and a pension plan.



Information for international staff and guests can be found at our website: International Staff and Guests.

Utrecht University offers excellent secondary benefits including collective insurance schemes, an excellent pension scheme and flexible employment conditions. For more information: Working at Utrecht University.


About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

At Utrecht University, we work together towards a better future for all of us. With our more than 6,000 members of staff, we provide socially relevant research and high-quality education. Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands and is amongst the largest in Europe. Utrecht University is an international research university of the highest quality. This has been demonstrated for many years by its high positions in international rankings such as the Shanghai Ranking and the Times Higher Ranking. The University is located in the centre of The Netherlands in the attractive and culturally vibrant city of Utrecht.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FVM) has a unique position in the Netherlands. Not only is this the only institution where veterinarians are trained, researchers are also working together on innovative scientific research. In addition, the faculty provides specialist clinical care in the largest academic veterinary hospital in Europe. The faculty employs approximately 900 veterinarians, scientists and support staff and counts over 1,500 students. 

Additional information

Informal inquiries should be directed to Prof. dr. ir. D.J.J. Heederik (phone: + 31 30 253 94 80; d.heederik@uu.nl). A more detailed description of the Chair is available upon request. A development assessment can be part of the selection process.


Please send your application accompanied by a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae and the names and contact info of at least two persons who are able to provide professional reference. You can apply via the 'application' button.                         

The application deadline is