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Animal Husbandry Training Programs and Requirements

Animal husbandry, also referred to as animal science, is the study of livestock care and breeding techniques. Animal husbandry training programs are offered at undergraduate and graduate levels. Husbandry training programs prepare individuals for careers working with farm, zoo and lab animals.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

Usually offered through agricultural science departments, formal training in animal husbandry prepares students for careers in animal care and livestock management as well as graduate studies in veterinary medicine. Educational requirements can often vary from an associate degree to a master's degree, depending on the type of animal husbandry career someone seeks. 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.

Formal Education

Generally, animal husbandry college programs prepare students for careers working with pig, cattle, poultry and horse populations. While an associate 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.

Associate of Applied Science in Animal Science

Animal husbandry training programs at the associate degree level are meant for career entry. They require coursework in farm animal production, animal biology, breeding and livestock nutrition. In addition, most programs train students in business, management and marketing.

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. They take foundational courses in animal, plant and soil science and study chemistry and genetics. Animal husbandry students earning bachelor's degrees may assist faculty members with animal research.

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.

Job Experience

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 are requiring 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 seminarsthat 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.

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