School of Biosciences
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Gavin White

Assistant Professor in Animal Nutrition, Faculty of Science


  • workRoom B227 South Laboratory
    Sutton Bonington Campus
    Sutton Bonington
    LE12 5RD
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Gavin's research interests fall under the main headings of non-ruminant and companion animal nutrition and health. Current research areas include:

  • Non-ruminant nutrition
  • Companion animal obesity

Gavin graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Animal Science (Leeds) before completing an MSc in Animal Production (Aberdeen). Subsequent employment with DEFRA included extensive on-farm blood sampling of livestock around the UK during the swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks of 2000/1. He obtained his PhD in 2007 (Nottingham) where his thesis examined nutritional strategies for improving starch digestibility and digestive integrity in the newly-weaned piglet. After postdoctoral research at Nottingham (School of Veterinary Medicine and Science 2008-2011 and School of Biosciences 2011-2013) he was appointed Teaching Associate in Animal Nutrition (Division of Animal Sciences) and, in his role as Course Manager, helped to establish a new MSc degree in Animal Nutrition. He is currently a member of the Register of Accredited Animal Scientists and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2017, he was promoted to Assistant Professor in Animal Nutrition.

Teaching Summary

Gavin is Course Manager for the MSc degree in Animal Nutrition and delivers teaching across a number of the course modules:

  • D24AN1 Companion/Zoo Animal Nutrition
  • D24AN2 Non-Ruminant Nutrition (module convenor)
  • D24AN4 Research Techniques in Animal Nutrition (module convenor)
  • D24AN5 Feed Industry, Business and Case Studies
  • D24PRO Postgraduate Research Project (module co-convenor)

He also delivers undergraduate teaching in both the School of Biosciences and the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. His teaching covers a range of topics including pig production, husbandry and practical handling skills, feed recognition and diet formulation for non-ruminants, companion animal obesity and comparative anatomy of animal digestive systems as part of the following undergraduate modules:

  • D223A7 Applied Animal Science
  • D235A8 Companion Animal Science (module convenor)
  • D10IBS Introduction to Body systems
  • D11AHW Animal Health and Welfare 1

Gavin also has an interest in how to better support students in their transition to Postgraduate Taught studies at Nottingham. Along with a small number of colleagues, he has recently developed a new PGT support programme that delivers a series of academic seminars and workshops throughout the year for students (many of whom are from an International background), along with careers advice and wellbeing sessions.

Research Summary

My primary research background is in farm animal nutrition where I have been involved in a number of large research programmes examining nutritional approaches to sustainable livestock production.… read more

Selected Publications

Gavin currently sits on several committees at University and School level:

  • Ambassador for University of Nottingham: British Society of Animal Science Academia Association.
  • School of Biosciences Learning and Teaching Strategy Committee
  • Postgraduate Taught Courses Committee
  • Postgraduate Marketing and Recruitment Committee

Current Research

My primary research background is in farm animal nutrition where I have been involved in a number of large research programmes examining nutritional approaches to sustainable livestock production. These have included examining nutritional strategies for post-weaned piglets, in the absence of antibiotic growth promoters and evaluating alterative protein sources to soya bean meal such as peas and beans (in UK pig diets) or wheat distillers dried grains with solubles (in pig and poultry diets) - see below for project details, Further research has assessed the nutritional value and inclusion levels of modern oilseed rape (OSR) meal varieties in non-ruminant diets.

My other main area of research interest is companion animal health and nutrition , particularly the issue of pet obesity. As in human obesity, the underlying causes are likely to be multiple, social, and difficult to quantify. This is because companion animal obesity relates to several aspects of the human-animal bond. I am looking to develop this research area further and have recently co-supervised a number of undergraduate research projects on this topic with a particular focus on aspects of the human-animal bond and treat giving behaviour. This published research (White et al., 2016) builds upon previously published study findings (White et al, 2011) about owner perception of canine obesity - see publications.

I have also supervised a number of MSc research projects on animal nutrition across a range of livestock, companion and zoo species - some examples are listed below:

  • Growth performance and lipid digestibility in weaned piglets.
  • Nutritional evaluation of forage and assessment of fibre digestibility in captive Asian elephants.
  • Evaluation of vegetable protein in canine diets.
  • Determination of glucose content of dietary fruits and vegetables for captive Western Lowland Gorillas.
  • Evaluation of performance, protein and starch digestibility in extruded canine diets, using a broiler model.
  • Diet suitability in captive new world primates: gut transit time, digestive anatomy and diet analysis.
  • Effect of bioavailable silicon on growth, performance and skeletal integrity in broilers.
  • Nutritional evaluation of dietary calcium content of seafood for captive Asian small-clawed otters (Amblonyx cinereus).
  • Nutritional assessment and non-invasive evaluation of gut health in captive chimpanzees.

Past Research

Examples of previous research are detailed below:

Animal Nutrition

- Evaluation of Wheat Distillers Dried Grains with Solubles (W-DDGS) in non-ruminant diets (ENBBIO project)

This research aimed to evaluate the environmental and nutritional benefits of using bioethanol co-products for UK livestock. This large research programme (involving over twenty academic and industry partners) assessed the nutritional values of UK sources of W-DDGS for a range of livestock species.

-The potential of using home-grown legumes as a protein source in UK pig diets (Green Pig project)

This DEFRA-funded LINK research project brought together pulse growers, feed manufacturers and pig producers to investigate the potential use of using homegrown legumes (pea and faba beans) as a replacement for soya bean meal in the diets of UK grower and finisher pigs, in order to reduce the environmental burdens associated with pig production. A key objective of this research involved performance, nitrogen balance and carcass evaluation trials in growing and finishing pigs. To achieve the overall project aim, the consortium used multiple approaches including life cycle assessment modeling, digestibility and amino acid profiling of different pea and bean varieties, a survey of home-mixers and pig feed producers to identify perceived constraints to legume use, along with large scale commercial demonstrations.

-Sustainable nutrition of the weaned piglet (NUTWEAN project)

My doctoral research examined nutritional strategies for the post-weaned piglet in the absence of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs). To overcome the 'post-weaning growth check' commonly seen at weaning, the incorporation of AGPs to the diets had historically been a useful management tool. However, legislation within the European Union to ban the use of AGPs at sub-therapeutic levels in animal feed means that the quality of dietary ingredients used in weaner pig diets has now assumed a much more fundamental role. This research required assessment of the physicochemical properties of precisely processed dietary cereals (employing in vitro techniques commonly used in the field of human food science) and relating this rheological data to biological responses (e.g. starch digestibility, intestinal morphology) when the same cereals were fed in diets to newly-weaned piglets. With the application of computer modelling, it was possible to demonstrate a correlation between in-vitro starch parameters and in-vivo starch digestion in the small intestine of the young piglet. This work was part of a larger national research consortium involving collaborations between industry, government and academic partners.

-Companion animal obesity

I have a keen interest in companion animal nutrition and welfare, more specifically the issue of pet obesity. This research topic is of significant professional interest due to the alarming increase in the prevalence of overweight and obese pets. The situation is considered serious enough for some professionals to believe that obesity is the most common nutritional disease in dogs and the single biggest health issue facing domestic animals in Europe. Previous research has involved investigating the relationship between dog and owner. More specifically, it examined what factors may influence dog owner's perceptions and evaluation of their dog's weight (explored in two cohorts of dog owners with either overweight or non-overweight dogs) and whether owner perception was in agreement with assessment by a veterinary professional. This research was part of a collaborative project between the Centre for Applied Bioethics, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and the Institute for Science and Society. This study has been published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice. Further research has examined owner perception and motivation for treat feeding in dogs. This study has been recently published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine. See publications section, for further details.

Animal Infection and Disease

- Host Innate immune response to influenza viruses.

Influenza A viruses pose a major threat to animal health as well as a zoonotic threat to humans. The mortality rate from human cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) infection is around 60%. In contrast, pigs typically show either mild or no clinical signs of disease during HPAI H5N1 infection, despite being susceptible to the virus. This research focussed on differences in host innate immune response at the transcriptional and protein level using primary cultures of human and pig tracheal epithelial cells and alveolar macrophages. Further research examined the innate immune response to pandemic influenza (pH1N1) in key porcine respiratory target tissues during the early phase infection. This research was part of the Combating Swine Influenza (COSI) initiative; a Wellcome Trust/BBSRC/MRC/Defra-funded UK consortium, funded in response to the emergence of the pandemic H1N1 outbreak in early 2009. This work included analysis of the expression of key genes (e.g. cytokines, chemokines and signalling pathways) at the RNA and protein level using a range of techniques including qPCR, Western Blotting and antibody microarray.

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Sutton Bonington Campus
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LE12 5RD, UK

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