Animal Anatomy And Physiology (Animal Husbandry I)

Learn animal anatomy and physiology from our team of professional animal scientists. Study animal systems and physiology, potential health issues, and more.

Course Code: BAG101
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
Get started!

Discover what makes  animals tick...

Understanding the basics of animal anatomy and physiology will help you manage and care for your animals. 

Appropriate for beginners and intermediate students alike, this course will help you learn the baselines for animal health and biological systems. It will help you:

  • understand how to diagnose disease
  • determine if an animal has sustained an injury
  • understand the physical capabilities or limitations of particular species
  • understand what happens in the nutrition and growth processes

You will study:

  • cells and tissues,
  • the skeletal system
  • the digestive system,
  • the circulatory system,
  • the urinary system,
  • the nervous system,
  • the respiratory system,
  • the reproductive system,
  • muscles and meat,
  • animal growth, and development,
  • and the endocrine system.

What is Anatomy? What is Physiology?

The term anatomy refers to the science that deals with the form and structure of animals. Physiology deals with the study of functions of the body or any of its parts. A thorough knowledge of the structure of an animal imparts a lot of information about the various functions it is capable of performing.

This knowledge is essential if you want to work with animals in any capacity.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to cells & tissues
    • livestock classes
    • livestock products
    • interrelationship between crops and livestock
    • cells and tissues
    • special properties of cells
    • osmosis
    • nutrient waste
  2. The Digestive System
    • digestive system
    • mouth, tongue, teeth,
    • oesophagus
    • simple stomach
    • small intestine
    • large intestine
    • ruminant stomach
    • accessory organs of the digestive system
    • digestion
    • absorption and utilisation in the simple stomach
    • enzymes
    • breakdown by microorganisms
    • digestion, absorption and utilisation in the ruminant stomach
    • mechanical action
    • action of micro-organisms
    • utilisation of the end products of digestion
  3. The Circulatory System
    • circulatory system
    • composition of blood
    • functions of blood
    • clotting mechanism
    • immunity
    • blood vessels
    • arteries
    • veins
    • capillaries
    • physiology of the circulatory system
    • rates of heart beats
    • spleen
    • lymphatic system
    • circulatory networks
  4. The Urinary System
    • anatomy of the urinary system
    • kidneys
    • ureter
    • bladder
    • physiology of urinary system
    • excretion in different animals
  5. The Nervous System
    • central and peripheral nervous system
    • main parts of the nervous system
    • neurons
    • sensory neurons
    • motor neurons
    • central nervous system
    • the brain
    • spinal cord
    • peripheral nervous system
    • cranial nerves
    • spinal nerves
    • autonomic nervous system
    • reflex actions
    • endocrine system
    • structure and function of the ear
    • hearing
    • structure and function of the eye
    • the iris
    • structure and function of the nose
  6. Respiration
    • anatomy of respiration
    • trachea
    • bronchial tree
    • lungs
    • physiology of respiration
    • gaseous exchange
    • rate and depth of breathing
  7. The Reproductive System
    • anatomy of the male reproductive system
    • testes
    • accessory organs
    • penis
    • physiology of male reproductive system
    • hormone production
    • sperm production
    • erection
    • ejaculation
    • fertility problems in males
    • venereal diseases
    • other diseases
    • injury
    • physical immaturity
    • emotional immaturity
    • nutrition
    • poor handling
    • anatomy of female reproductive system
    • ovaries
    • fallopian tubes
    • uterus
    • cervix
    • physiology of the female reproductive system
    • ovulation, oestrus cycle
    • fertility problems, difficulties conceiving
    • venereal and other diseases
    • physical abnormalities
    • nutrition
    • inability to carry a foetus to full-term
    • pregnancy and parturition
    • fertilisation
    • pregnancy
    • parturition
    • birth process
    • difficult births
    • structure of the mammary glands
    • secretion of milk
    • milk ejection
    • reproduction data for cows, sows and ewes
  8. Muscles & Meat
    • muscles and meat
    • smooth muscle
    • striated voluntary muscle
    • cardiac muscle
    • structure of meat
    • dressing out percentage
    • composition of the beef animal
    • meat quality and tenderness
    • juiciness
    • flavour
    • cuts and joints of meat
  9. The Skeleton
    • bones
    • how bones are formed
    • anatomy of bones
    • fractures and fracture healing
    • five types of bone
    • joints of bone
    • the skeleton
    • dentition
    • the dental formula
    • cattle
    • dental formula of an ox and cow
    • eruption of permanent teeth
    • pigs
  10. Animal Growth, Development, and the Endocrine System
    • growth and development
    • growth curve
    • prenatal growth
    • post-natal growth
    • fat
    • factors which affect the size of newborns
    • factors affecting post-natal growth
    • early maturing
    • compensatory growth
    • endocrine system
    • pituitary gland
    • thyroid
    • parathyroid
    • thymus
    • adrenal bodies
    • pancreas
    • testes
    • ovaries
    • pineal body
    • mucous membrane of the stomach
  11. Comparing Different Animals
    • poultry
    • digestion
    • gullet
    • crop
    • proventriculus
    • gizzard
    • intestine
    • caecum
    • rectum
    • incubating eggs
    • natural incubation
    • symptoms of a broody hen
    • fish

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the structure of animals, including bones, organs, cells and tissues.
  • Explain the digestion of animals.
  • Explain the circulatory system of animals.
  • Explain the structure and function of the animal urinary system.
  • Explain the nervous system of animals.
  • Explain the respiratory system of animals.
  • Explain the animal reproductive system.
  • Explain the muscular system in animals.
  • Explain the skeletal system of a typical mammal.
  • Explain biological mechanisms underlying the growth and development of animals.
  • Explain the endocrine system of animals.
  • Explain differences between different types of animals, in terms of both structure and function.

Feedback on this course:

"I think it is absolutely brilliant. I have never come across such a friendly, helpful staff and am so enjoying my course. I will definitely recommend A.C.S to anybody who wants to study" Tanya Sadler - United Arab Emirates

"The course teaches you the different systems within animals in terms of structure and function, cell and tissue structure, and also the differences between different categories of animals." Marius Erasmus - A.C.S Tutor - B. Science (Agriculture,) B. Science (Wildlife), Master of Science (Agriculture)

Learning is Your First Step to Better Animal Management

An understanding of animal anatomy and physiology is important for people working in a range of industries, especially those working with livestock, domestic pets and wildlife. This course focuses mainly on mammal species, however, some other more developed animals are also included; and it provides a very sound introduction to understanding both the structural anatomy and functional physiology of animals.

Before you can properly understand how an animal grows, moves, processes food, gets ill, or anything else -you must first understand what it is (the parts it is made of), and how it functions (the way each of those parts operates).
  • Structure (anatomy) deals with the different parts of the animal body, such as; cells, tissues, bone, and muscle.  

  • Function (physiology) covers the different systems that are at work in animal body, such as; digestive, loco motor, urinary, and reproductive systems. 

How Does an Animal Sustain and Grow itself?

Consider how nutrients pass from the arteries into the cells and how the waste products pass from the cells into the veins.

Both arteries and veins are spread throughout the body. Arteries take oxygenated blood away from the heart to the various parts of the body, and veins return the de-oxygenated blood back to the heart and lung. To begin with, they are large tubes about the width of a little finger. They have thick walls.  As an artery spreads out, it divides into branches and get progressively smaller and narrower until finally they become very fine, thread-like tubes called capillaries.  Capillaries have very thin walls and are the place where arterial system and the venous system connect up with each other.

Between the capillaries and the cells to which the capillaries carry nutrients, there is a fluid called interstitial fluid.  (Interstitial means "intervening space").  This fluid surrounds the cells and capillaries and acts as a connecting link.

The nutrients carried by the arteries pass through the walls of the artery to the capillaries and then travel through the interstitial fluid before passing through the walls of the cells.  Waste products pass in a similar way but in the opposite direction!  They travel through the cell walls; into the interstitial fluid and through the venous capillary walls.

Although this sounds a simple procedure, it is a complex operation that makes use of all the special properties of cells (such as osmosis, hydrostatic pressure and the electro-chemical gradient).


Growth is described as an increase in body weight.  Development is described as a change in body proportions.  Four processes are involved in producing the final form of an adult animal and these are:

Differentiation or the transformation of mother cells to different cell types.  For example mother cells change to form the specialised cells of the brain, kidneys, liver, intestines etc.  This process is irreversible - once these specialised organs have been formed the cells cannot change back to mother cells.
Morphogenesis or the organisation of cells into tissues, the building of tissues into organs and the development of organs into the whole body.
Growth is the sum total of the biological and chemical processes that start when the ovum is fertilised and end when the body attains a size and conformation that is characteristic of the species.
Development is the co-ordination of the diverse processes which end in an adult with a form or appearance that is characteristic of the species.  Development goes on for longer in higher species than in the less sophisticated animals.

Growth Curve

Although growth itself is a highly complex process, it is possible to draw up a graph for each type of animal showing the expected increase in body weight over time.  Such a graph is called a growth curve.  

Puberty, which is the onset of sexual activity, occurs at about 30% of body weight i.e. when the animal has done about one third of its growth.  There are two phases of growth.  Phase 1 is called the self-accelerating phase because it is during this time that growth is most rapid.  Phase 2 is termed the self-inhibitory phase because the growth slows down and eventually stops altogether.  

The point of inflection occurs in Phase 1 and is the time of fastest growth within this already quick growing phase.  It highlights the spurt of growth that occurs during puberty.  It is an important point as it is used to compare the physiological age in different species.


This course starts you off with the basics of animal anatomy and physiology which are fundamental to all types of work in the care of animals. Doing a course such as this shows you are serious about animals and their care.  It is aimed at:
  • Those working or wanting to work with animals but who don't have any formal training.
  • Those working with animals (e.g. volunteers) to move into a paid career in this field or to improve their career prospects.
  • Those that want to gain access to further study.

ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
ACS is a Silver Sponsor of the AIH; and students studying designated courses are given free student membership. ACS and it's principal have had an association with AIH since the 1980's
ACS is an organisational member of the Future Farmers Network.
ACS is an organisational member of the Future Farmers Network.
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).

What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email ( call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.

What if I change my mind?

Please get in touch with if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( ).

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Alison Pearce (Agri & Animal)

Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to ACS students.

She has worked as a University Lecturer, has also run a veterinary operating theatre; responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures. She has worked in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

She has extensive experience of handling, husbandry, and management of a wide range of both small and large animals and has a particular love for nature and wildlife.

Alison has a BSc (Hon) Animal Science.

Marius Erasmus

Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.

Dr. Gareth Pearce

Veterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation.
Gareth has a B.Sc.(Hons), B.V.Sc., M.A., M.Vet.S,. PhD, Grad. Cert. Ed.(HE), Post-Grad.Cert. Aq.Vet.Sc., Post-Grad. Cert. WLBio&Cons., Dipl. ECPHM, MRCVS.

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.

I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.