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Animal Husbandry Degrees by Degree Program Level

Majors Overview March 24, 2013

Animal husbandry involves caring and breeding of farm animals. A majority of animal husbandry programs are included in animal science majors. Degree programs in animal science are available at the undergraduate and associate degree levels.

Animal Science Associate Degree

Students who want to pursue a career in animal husbandry can begin by earning an associate’s degree in animal science. This two-year degree program teaches students about the management and production of livestock. The program coursework concentrates on offering a comprehensive understanding of animal agriculture, with classes in livestock evaluation, breeding, sanitation and health, among other courses.

Educational Requirements

An individual who wants to enroll in an associate’s degree program is required to submit a high school transcript or equivalent documents. While other requirements such as standardized test scores are rarely demanded for this program, some schools, especially four-year institutions, may require more.

Students who are applying to the program should be aware of the physical demands that are required in the animal husbandry profession. It is essential to have love for animals, along with strong physical and mental conditioning.

Program Curriculum

Typically, coursework concentrate on animal agriculture with several elective requirements. Below are some sample core course titles:

•Housing construction
•Animal physiology and anatomy
•Genetics and breeding
•Equine nutrition
•Livestock marketing

Career Options

Advances and automation in farming technology will result in lower employment opportunities for farmers in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The decline will be partially off-set by the growing popularity of organic, local, and small-scale farming. Below are several sample job titles:

•Animal breeder
•Organic produce and meat farmer
•Agricultural inspector

Animal Science Bachelor Degree Program

Animal science bachelor degree program varies in regard to the emphasis of the curriculum. Several programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the food and animal industries. Other programs feature coursework that is designed for the farm operator and owner. Independent of the coursework emphasis, an animal science bachelor degree program teaches the physical and biological processes involved in utilization and animal care. A majority of these programs include a work internship where students will receive valuable hands-on experience working in the agricultural industry or at a farm.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria for students who are interested in enrolling in an animal science bachelor degree program include submission of standardized test scores and high school transcripts. Other prerequisites can include letters of recommendation and an admission essay.

Program Curriculum

Students who are enrolled in a bachelor degree program are required to take several liberal arts electives, in addition to a core animal science curriculum. Below are a few sample core curriculum course titles:

•Swine nutrition
•Advanced breeding
•Fiber and food system
•Range management
•Herd health

Salary Information and Career Outlook

Beneficial salary information for ranchers and farmers may be difficult to arrive at since there is an annual fluctuation in demand and price for farm output. In 2008, animal breeders earned an average annual salary of $27,090, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, in 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average annual salary of $24,950 for general agricultural workers.

Information on Continuing Education

An animal science bachelor or associate degree is generally sufficient for individuals who are interested in a career breeding and caring for farm animals. While animal husbandry master degree programs are extremely rare; animal science doctoral and master degree programs are available to students. These programs are created to teach the knowledge and skills needed for senior faculty and research positions within the agriculture sector. Related programs that involve an animal husbandry coursework at the graduate level include animal management, agriculture science, veterinary medicine, and veterinary technology.

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