Programs for animal husbandry, also referred to as 'animal science,' prepare students for the field by having them study livestock care and breeding techniques. Husbandry training programs prepare individuals for careers working with farm, zoo and lab animals, including pig, cattle, poultry and horse populations.
Educational requirements can often vary from an associate's degree to a master's degree, depending on the type of animal husbandry career someone seeks. It typically takes 2 years to complete an associate's and master's degree program, and 4 years for a bachelor's degree program. While an associate's or bachelor's degree may be sufficient for an aspiring farm manager or production specialist, livestock nutritionists are typically required to possess at least a master's degree. For some animal husbandry jobs that require a master's degree, a doctoral degree may be preferred; however, this is not common. Also, many employers may prefer to hire bilingual animal husbandry workers who are able to speak English and Spanish.
Associate of Applied Science in Animal Science
Animal husbandry training programs at the associate's degree level are meant for career entry. Programs may include the following coursework:
- Farm animal production
- Animal biology
- Livestock nutrition
- Business and management
Bachelor of Science in Animal Science
Students who major in animal science may be able to specialize in a particular livestock sector or phase of husbandry and production. Animal husbandry students earning bachelor's degrees may assist faculty members with animal research. Students take foundation courses such as the following:
- Animal science
- Plant science
- Soil science
Master of Science in Animal Science
Master's degree programs are intended for advancement in the husbandry field or preparation for a doctoral degree. Graduate husbandry students examine advanced topics in animal science. Students often specialize in either animal reproduction or animal nutrition science.
Individuals who may seek a degree in animal husbandry can range from aspiring breeders to future veterinarians. While farm workers often learn on the job, more and more companies require some form of college training for farm managers. Some husbandry positions, such as production specialist, may require several years of experience in the field coupled with a 4-year degree. Individuals who have completed a college program in husbandry have usually participated in at least one work experience.
Licenses and Certifications
Animal husbandry workers may seek voluntary certification through the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (www.aalas.org). Credentials are available for animal technicians and husbandry managers. In order to qualify to take the exam, applicants must meet education and work experience requirements. Certifications are valid for two years and must be maintained through continuing education.
Workshops and Seminars
Industry farming and husbandry organizations often sponsor conferences, which can last 1-5 days. During this time, attendees can hear from guest speakers and participate in workshops on specific livestock topics related to breeding, handling or feeding. Some colleges, farms and local chapter associations may sponsor seminars that last for a few hours or a weekend. Additionally, organizational websites often provide recorded seminars for download, which usually run for about 30 minutes.
Additional Professional Development
Animal husbandry workers can find additional training resources through printed books, references and periodicals. Also, industry websites, such as the one hosted by the American Society of Animal Science (www.asas.org), offers virtual newsletters and information about federal regulations affecting the animal husbandry industry.
Students can earn an animal science degree at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels. These programs prepare students for a range of animal care and management jobs, and certifications, workshops, seminars, and other professional development opportunities are available.