What is Animal Science?

What is Animal Science?

Animal Science is concerned with the science and business of producing domestic livestock species, including but not limited to beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, and swine. An animal scientist applies principles of the biological, physical, and social sciences to the problems associated with livestock production and management. Animal Science is also concerned with foods of animal origin: meat, dairy foods, and eggs. The food industry is one of the largest and most important industries in the United States. In addition, animal science is concerned with aspects of companion animals, including their nutrition, care, and welfare.

Aaron_DIf you are interested in efficient production of food animals, processing and consumption of high-quality meats and dairy products, use of companion animals for recreation or leisure purposes, or the maintenance of animal health and well-being, then a career in one of the many animal sciences fields may be your key to a rewarding future. Professional education and training in the animal sciences can prepare you for challenging career opportunities in such areas as animal production, breeding, health maintenance and disease control, marketing, processing, distribution, and numerous allied service industries. Additionally, it is a convenient major for biologists interested in animals and an eventual career after veterinary, medical, dental, or graduate school.

Animal scientists must have formal training and appropriate experience to learn and apply the complex principles involved in animal production, care, and use. Knowledge of such basic subjects as animal behavior and management, genetics, microbiology, nutrition, physiology, reproduction, and meat science is essential to persons entering most animal sciences professions. However, a farm or animal-related background is not required.

Global forces are demanding more from the agriculture industry. A growing world population with changing patterns of diet requires more food. This food production must take place on a finite amount of land during climatic change. It must be integrated with the needs of people and the environment. The complex challenges of the next century demand agricultural professionals who can identify opportunities and devise innovative solutions. The broad knowledge base in animal science prepares students for rewarding careers.

Animal Science Careers

Students earning a B.S. degree with a major in animal science are qualified for a wide variety of challenging careers. In fact, there are over 500 different job classifications for animal science graduates. Graduates find employment in academic teaching and research, industrial research in the food and feed industries, in laboratory research programs with governmental and international agencies, private corporations, and in industrial or institutional management positions requiring a high level of scientific training. In government positions, graduates can help draft regulations governing the agriculture industry, or work directly in research. Other traditional employment can be found with feed manufacturers, animal breeding companies, meat packers, pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, universities, or in primary production. An agricultural science degree is also the gateway to a multitude of possibilities in the growing agricultural biotechnology industry.

What Career Opportunities Are Available?

By majoring in animal sciences, you can prepare yourself for one or more of the many careers related to animal agriculture. Depending on the particular program of study you choose, rewarding career opportunities are available in business, industry, government, education, and research:

Allied animal industries such as feed and equipment manufacturers, artificial breeding associations, pharmaceutical firms, meat processors, and food distributors employ animal scientists in various technical, managerial, administrative, public relations, and sales positions.

Breeding and livestock marketing organizations employ animal scientists as field representatives, managers, consultants, market forecasters, and public relations specialists.

Extension educators with animal sciences training find professional teaching positions as state and area livestock specialists and county agricultural agents.

Food processors, meat packers, and related industries seek persons with meat science background for positions in management, product and process development, purchasing, quality assurance, technical and consumer services, advertising, and sales.

Formal training in the basic animal sciences provides essential background for professional careers in veterinary medicine.

Government agencies employ persons with undergraduate or advanced training in the animal sciences as administrative or technical specialists in livestock marketing, forecasting, environmental regulation, animal health, disease control, meats inspection, and public information.

Livestock breeders and feedlot operators seek persons with strong animal sciences and business training for positions in production management, animal nutrition, physiology, and behavior.

Researchers and laboratory technicians are employed by many government agencies and private firms, working in such specialized fields as animal breeding and reproduction, health maintenance and disease control, animal nutrition, computer modeling, animal housing, waste management, environmental quality, and processing, handling, and quality control with meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products.

Self-employed persons with animal sciences training develop professional careers in such diverse fields as farm and feedlot operation, management services, consulting, livestock marketing, animal breeding, and kennel or clinic operations.

State and national organizations such as the National Cattlemen's Association, National Pork Producers Council, the National Dairy Herd Improvement Association, and others employ animal scientists to promote, educate, and work in the public sector with consumers of animal products; other service organizations employing animal scientists in educational, communications, and public relations roles include banking, insurance, and real estate firms.

Universities, colleges, and other educational organizations employ persons with advanced animal sciences training as teachers, researchers, laboratory technicians, and extension specialists.

Vocational agriculture educators with animal sciences backgrounds find professional careers in secondary schools, area vocational centers, and community colleges.

Writers and communicators with animal sciences training are employed by the various animal industries in advertising, publications work, and public information activities.

Zoos, kennels, animal clinics, horse farms, animal preserves, and similar facilities offer many positions as animal caretakers, technicians, gamekeepers, and veterinary assistants.

Recent advances in genetic engineering, molecular biology, and other biotechnology areas relating to animal production, care, and use underline the significant changes in today's animal agriculture and its growing importance to society as a whole. As new career opportunities emerge, many trained animal scientists will be needed to assume these challenging roles.

Possible Job Titles

  • Livestock Production Manager
    • Beef
    • Dairy
    • Poultry
    • Sheep
    • Swine
  • Animal Health
  • Product Sales
  • Feed Sales/Management
  • Livestock Equipment Sales/Mgt
  • Livestock Procurement
  • Field Representative
  • Consultant
  • A.I. Breeding Technician
  • Livestock Feedlot Operator
  • Research and Lab Technician
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Market Forecaster Sales
  • Technical Representative
  • Teacher Researcher
  • Extension Specialist
  • Livestock Marketing Specialist
  • Housing & Environmental Quality Specialist
  • Livestock Insurance Representative
  • Animal Scientist
  • Food/Meat Product Development
  • Quality Assurance
  • Food Service Management
  • Farm Management
  • Dairy Equipment Specialist
  • Stable Management
  • Market Reporter
  • Meat Grade
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Representative

Types of Employers

  • Self employed
  • Feed companies
  • Animal health firms
  • Livestock equipment companies
  • Commercial feedlots Food/meat processing companies
  • Universities
  • Private research firms
  • Breeding firms
  • Marketing/commission firms
  • Insurance companies
  • Companion animal industry
  • Stockyard companies
  • Purebred breed associations
  • Poultry processors
  • Zoos
  • Community colleges
  • Riding stables
  • Racetracks
  • Livestock publications
  • Radio/TV stations
  • Veterinary supplies
  • Federal and State government
  • Farm organizations
  • Livestock Production
    • Beef cattle
    • Cow/calf operations
    • Stocker or grower programs
    • Feedlot
    • Dairy
    • Milk production
    • Swine
    • Farrowing operations
    • Grower/finisher operations
    • Farrow to finish
    • Sheep
    • Ewe flocks
    • Wheat pasture growing/finishing programs
    • Poultry
    • Broiler production
    • Egg production
    • Horses
    • Mare Breeding Farm
    • Training facility Livestock feed
    • Production
    • Sales
    • Distribution Financial institution
    • Banks
    • Lending agencies ​
  • Livestock promotion and marketing
    • Breed organizations
    • Livestock publications
    • Livestock sales
    • Market reporting
    • Sales
    • Feed
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Agricultural chemicals
    • Livestock supplies
  • Management
    • Livestock production enterprises
    • Sales/marketing companies
    • Food production/distribution
  • Commercial banks
  • Service organizations
    • Extension
    • Agriculture agents
    • 4-H agents
    • Teaching (high school, junior college or university)
    • Feed/slaughter inspection
    • Private consulting
  • Technology development and application (Biotechnology)
    • Laboratory technical support
    • Animal caretakers
    • Research scientists
    • Genetics and Animal Breeding
    • Population genetics
    • Molecular genetics
    • Genetic engineering
    • Reproductive management
    • Endocrinology
    • Cloning
    • Embryo technology
    • Nutrition
    • Feeding programs
    • Nutrition/reproduction interactions
    • Nutrition/health/immunity interactions
    • Food Science
    • Product development 
    • Food processing 
    • Fermentation
  • Grain companies
  • Veterinary Medicine 
    • Practice 
    • Research 
    • Product development 
    • Teaching 
    • Inspection
  • Meat or dairy foods
    • Production
    • Product development
    • Quality control 
    • Distribution and marketing

Become an ASAS member

Membership is open to individuals, organizations, or firms interested in research and application, instruction, or extension in animal science or associated with the production, processing, marketing, or distribution of livestock and livestock products.

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