Animal Breeding

Learn animal breeding theory and practice for farm and domesticated animals, from our highly qualified team of veterinary and agricultural professionals. Teaching about animals since 1990.

Course Code: BAG301
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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      Learn about Animal Breeding

      • Farm Animals, Pets, Wildlife
      • Up skill for better business or employment opportunities
      • Study when and where it suits your busy schedule

      Animal breeding can be anything from a serious hobby or part time business (eg. breeding and selling pets), through to a very serious and possibly highly sophisticated profession.

      This course provides an excellent starting point whatever level you plan to operate at.

      Lesson Structure

      There are 7 lessons in this course:

      1. Introduction to Genetics
        • Plant cells
        • Animal cells
        • Cell division - mitosis (asexual reproduction); meiosis (sexual reproduction)
        • Genes - phenotype and genotype; homogenous and heterogenous
        • Terminology
        • The work of Mendel
        • Sex determination
      2. Genetics
        • Gene mutations
        • Lethal genes
        • Effect of the environment
        • Hybrid vigour
        • Genetics in agriculture
        • Heritability
      3. Selection
        • Animal breeding programs
        • Agriculture
        • Decide on your priorities
        • Dual purpose animals
        • Artificial selection
        • Gene groups
        • Regression
        • Domestic animals - Dogs, cats etc.
      4. Pure Breeding
        • Inbreeding - close breeding and line breeding
        • Genetic effects of inbreeding
        • Advantages and disadvantages
      5. Introduction to Cross Breeding
        • The effects of cross breeding in farm animals
        • Genetic effects, phenotype effects, heterosis, and genotype effect
        • Cross breeding in sheep
        • Cross breeding in domestic animals
      6. Cross Breeding
        • Practical cross breeding
        • Two breed or single cross
        • Back cross or crisscrossing
        • Cyclical crossing
        • Rotational crossing
        • Advantages of cross breeding
        • Reciprocal recurrent selection
        • Breed societies
        • Grading up
      7. Livestock Improvement
        • Performance Testing
        • Sib Testing
        • Progeny testing
        • Relative breeding Values (RBV)
        • Artificial insemination
        • Synchronised heats
        • Ova transplants

      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 genetic influence on the characteristics exhibited by animals.
      • Explain the factors that interact with genes to produce nonconformity in animals.
      • Develop procedures to select animals for a breeding program.
      • Develop an animal straight breeding program.
      • Develop an animal cross breeding program.
      • Explain the commercial methods used to breed farm animals.

      What You Will Do

      • Explain how genes control the inheritance of characteristics, using two specific examples of animal breeding.
      • Distinguish between the phenotype and the genotype, of a specified farm animal.
      • Distinguish between dominant and recessive gene pairs.
      • Explain the differences in the function of chromosomes, of a specified fowl, when compared with a specified mammalian farm animal.
      • Describe the linkage of gender with the expression of non-sex character traits, in a specified farm animal.
      • Explain the role of mutation in animal breeding, including both positive and negative aspects.
      • Explain the role of the environment in all factors which determine genetic expression in animals.
      • Explain the relevance of hybrid vigour to breeding different animals, including; *chickens *pigs *sheep
      • Explain heritability in different classes of livestock, including: * dairy cattle *beef cattle *pigs *sheep.
      • Develop a set of aims for a breeding program, for a chosen farm animal.
      • Develop a checklist of criteria for selecting animals in a breeding program for a specified type of farm animal.
      • Explain natural selection, by giving an example of its application in a farm animal breeding program.
      • Explain artificial selection in animal breeding programs, including: * it's aims *the methods used.
      • Explain genetic regression by giving an example of its possible occurrence in a farm breeding program.
      • Design a checklist of factors to consider when purchasing breeding stock for a specified farm situation.
      • Explain how an animal breeder in the learner's locality selects animals from which to breed, for a commercial breeding program.
      • Distinguish between different types of straight breeding, including: *close breeding *line breeding.
      • Explain how a specified pure breed (ie. straight breed) is maintained.
      • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of line breeding in a breeding program for a specified type of farm animal.
      • Explain where it would be appropriate to use line breeding methods in animal breeding programs.
      • Explain where it would be appropriate to use close breeding methods in animal breeding programs.
      • Write a procedure for straight breeding of a specified type of animal.
      • Differentiate between different types of cross breeding, including: *terminal cross *two breed cross *back cross *three breed cross *rotational cross.
      • Explain the concept of 'grading up', as it relates to commercial animal husbandry.
      • Evaluate 'crossbreeding' in an animal breeding program investigated by the learner, to determine its relevance to the situation.
      • Determine a commercial situation, in which crossbreeding may be justified.
      • Explain the services provided by a specified Breed Society in cross breeding, on a specified farm.
      • Write a procedure for cross breeding of a specified type of animal.
      • Define breeding terminology including: *artificial insemination *synchronised heats *ova transplants.
      • Describe the breeding programs which use artificial insemination, synchronised heats and ova transplants.
      • Explain the importance of synchronised heats to breeding animals.
      • Describe two different testing methods, observed by the learner that are used for animal breeding programs.
      • Evaluate the relevance of breeding methods, that are used on a specified property, to the stated aims of the property owner.
      • Describe the husbandry procedures which may be carried out during the pregnancy of a specified farm animal.
      • Describe husbandry practices which may be carried out during the birth of a specified type of farm animal, including: *routine husbandry procedures *emergency husbandry procedures.
      • Plan the management of a breeding program to maximise male breeding performance for either: *dairy *pigs *poultry *beef *sheep *horses
      • Perform and record the birth of a specified animal.



      Animal breeders may work with pets, farm animals or wildlife. They may breed purebred dogs, cats, horses or other animals, to  sell or show. They may breed farm animals or animals in a zoo or wildlife park.

      Some animal breeders work operate their own business (eg. supplying pets to the pet industry, livestock to farms, or horses to the racing industry). Others may work for zoos, wildlife parks, agricultural research stations or other public or non profit organisations. Breeding may have a commercial purpose or a conservation role.

      Some breeders may come to their job through experience rather than formal training; while others may start out with a substantial short courses, certificate or higher qualification

      Skills Needed

      • A real interest and empathy for animals

      • Knowledge of animal biology, health care and at least basic genetics

      • A calmness, self confidence, and appropriate physical fitness and strength, to deal with the species being bred

      • Being willing to network with colleagues, share what you learn and learn what is shared; in order to stay up to date

      Potential Opportunities
      Remuneration can vary greatly. If you own your own business as a breeder, you may have greater control and more potential to earn, particularly if you are good at what you do.
      If you work for someone else, your salary is probably going to be a reflection of both the type of animal you are working with and the industry sector you are working in.

      What People think of the course

      "The course is particularly useful to students who are or wish to be involved in agricultural livestock production." Marius Erasmus - B.Sc.Agriculture, B.Science (Wildlife), M.Sc.Agriculture

      ACS Student comment
      : Yes [the course is a valuable learning experience], I am loving it, it relates to all the things I am presently doing with our dogs and sheep and I am finding it extremely useful and have learnt a lot. Love getting my assignments back to see how I went always an exciting moment and then shared around the dinner table that night!! Zoe Crouch, Aust - Animal Breeding course.

      What Should You Study?

      Let us help you make the Best Decision for You!

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      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.
      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 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.

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      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.

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      More information is here

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      Course Contributors

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

      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.

      Alison Pearce

      University Lecturer, Quality Assurance Manager, Writer and Research Technician. Alison originally graduated with an honors degree in science from university and beyond that has completed post graduate qualifications in education and eco-tourism. She has managed veterinary operating theatre, responsible for animal anesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures.

      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.

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