Animal breeders are tasked with the responsibility of helping animals reproduce for may purposes such as sport (race horses), food consumption (beef cattle), show (dogs) and companionship. Animal breeders must have an indepth knowledge and understanding of animal genetics as well as the animal breed they’re working with in order to produce offspring that exhibit desired traits. For example, animal breeders that work with dairy cows strive to produce calves that will have high milk production.
Just a few of the jobs of animal breeders include artificial insemination and/or live cover (to facilitate breeding), overseeing animal births, providing direct care to animals (feeding, administering medical aid and supplementing), and monintoring overall animal health and breeding outcomes. While animal breeders aren’t veterinarians, the do work close with Vets to ensure proper health of the animals they work with.
Careers and Occupations
There are various career paths and occupational specialties that animal breeders can pursue. They can focus on commercial animal breeding for human use and consumption (e.g. poultry, beef cattle, pigs, fish, etc.) or the can focus on breeding animals for competition (show, racing, etc.) or companionship (pets). Some of the most popular specializations within animal breeding include producing horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, fish, dogs, cats and poultry. Animal breeders may also specialize in breeding exotic animals such as birds and reptiles. It’s also not uncommon for breeders to become even more specialized. For example, a horse breeder may specialize in breeding just thoroughbred horses for racing or a certain type of show dog.
Some breeders also specialize in producing certain types of traits within a specific breed. For example, breeders who raise racing greyhounds may strive to produce a body type that is muscular and promotes speed, while breeders raise show greyhounds try and produce sleek, slender dogs with beautiful coats.
Many animal breeders work as employees of large farms or livestock producers. Others work independently as consultants and are self employed. Breeders that are self-employed have more job flexibility and earning potential–but they are also have to deal with the headache of running and growing their own business.
Education and Training
While a formal college degree is not necessarily a prerequisite to becoming an animal breeder, more and more breeders and employers are seeking the degree qualification as it ensure breeders know what they’re doing and are up to date on the latest technologies, procedures and breakthrough in breeding. Many professional breeders have either bachelor’s or master’s degree in animal science (most common), animal reproduction, or biology.
The degree in animal breeding and/or animal science focuses on the application of genetics and genetic engineering to the development of new animal breeds, the improvement of agricultural animal health, and the selective improvement of animal populations within an agricultural setting. The animal science degree program typically includes in depth instruction in genetics, genetic engineering, population genetics, animal husbandry, biotechnology, and animal health.
The following colleges and universities provide majors and degree programs in animal breeding and/or science.
- Hinds Community College Raymond, MS
- Kishwaukee College Malta, IL
- Lake Erie College Painesville, OH
- State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill Cobleskill, NY
- University of Nevada: Reno Reno, NV