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Animal Husbandry and Production - Overview


Programs in animal husbandry and production prepare people to breed, care for, and sell animals. Students learn animal science, nutrition, and breeding. They study how to design and operate shelters to feed, house, and process livestock for food or products such as wool or fur.

In animal husbandry, you typically work with livestock. Livestock means animals we raise for food or other uses - such as chickens, cows, ducks, geese, goats, horses, pigs, and sheep. Husbandry means breeding, cultivating, and taking care of your animals. The word "husbandry" implies managing and conserving resources carefully, so it applies to taking care of other resources as well. Production means converting the animals or its products to commercial use. While many animals are used mainly for food, livestock animal byproducts have a surprising number of uses. For example, did you know that cow products (from blood, bone and other parts) are used to make such things as soap, glue, car wax, brake fluid, and even violin strings?

In animal husbandry and production programs, your courses are both scientific and technical in nature. You study the biology and anatomy of livestock animals. You learn about genetics and breeding. You also study how to handle different kinds of animals. You can gain important skills such as shearing, feeding, and artificially inseminating. You also study how livestock animals are butchered and processed. In addition, many programs include course work in marketing, business management, and sales.

Every state has a land grant college that offers agricultural science programs. Animal husbandry and production is often a major or a concentration of these programs. Many other colleges and universities also offer degrees or courses in this area, often as part of a larger animal science program. About 15 schools offer programs specifically in this field. In addition, about 25 two-year colleges offer certificate and associate degrees that can be transferred to a four-year school.

In general, an undergraduate degree in animal livestock husbandry and production prepares you for work directly in the field, either entry-level or in lower management. This means that you can work at farms and ranches, agribusiness companies, or meat and animal byproduct processing plants, to name a few.

A few schools offer graduate degrees in animal husbandry and production, usually as part of an animal science program. See the Animal Science, General program description for more information about graduate study in this area. Most people with a graduate degree in animal husbandry and production become professors or researchers.

Students who major in livestock husbandry and production typically choose to focus on a particular type of animal or phase of husbandry and production.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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