Animal Breeding BAG301

Study Animal Breeding

Learn to plan and implement of an animal breeding program using genetic theory, practical applications to daily husbandry practice, and management of animal breeding programs. The course includes a sound introduction to genetics, environmental effects, and livestock improvement strategies. Ideal for farmers, breeders, pet businesses, stock agents, and more.

Course Duration: 100 hours

Course 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
    • Mendelian Genetics
    • 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 effects
    • 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 breeeding
    • Reciprocal recurrent selection
    • Breed societies
    • Grading up
  7. Livestock Improvement
    • Performance Testing
    • Sib Testing
    • Progeny testing
    • Relative breeding Values (RBV)
    • Artificial insemination
    • Synchroised heats
    • Ova transplants

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How Effective Is Controlled Breeding?

When animals breed in the wild, the characteristics of progeny (offspring) are relatively unpredictable; through breeding, we can exert a degree of control over what is produced. Thousands of years of controlled breeding from wolves has produced a wide range of different domestic dog breeds, suited to a wide range of different roles, from pets to guard dogs and hunting dogs to guide dogs.Similarly, cattle, sheep and other domesticated animals have been highly bred to create a multitude of breeds, suited for a multitude of different purposes.

Wild animals are also bred today in captivity, mostly for conservation purposes.


Understanding breeding allows us to make informed guesses about the progeny that might be produced when cross breeding two particular animals, but the only way to determine the success of any breeding program is by actually examining progeny. Progeny testing tests examine the breeding qualities (genotype) of the parent by looking at the performance (phenotype) of the offspring. While it is effective when used to test any traits, it is of most use in testing for traits with low heritability. It is very useful for testing sires because they can produce many offspring relatively quickly. It is commonly used to test dairy bulls, beef bulls and pigs.

In progeny testing, the performance of all the offspring are recorded and evaluated. However, it may be misleading to compare the performances of a bull's daughters in different herds. This is because any differences in the results may be due to the different environments and not breeding differences. (A way to overcome this problem is to use the contemporary comparison system of evaluating the breeding merits of dairy bulls — this will be explained in the next sub section).

The other problem with progeny testing is that there is a long time period between using a bull for breeding and completing the performance testing of his heifers. Many bulls selected by milk marketing boards and offered by artificial insemination services have produced daughters that show no real increase in milk production over the family average of the bull.

What is Artificial Insemination?

There are two main parts to Artificial Insemination:

  • collecting, diluting, freezing and packing the semen from the bull
  • thawing out and injecting the semen into the cow at the right time for conception.

With each ejaculation, a normal bull produces 7-10 millilitres of semen. Each millilitre contains one to one and half thousand million healthy sperm. After collection, the semen is diluted to five times the original volume using a solution called an extender. A typical extender consists of egg yolk, sodium citrate, antibiotics, dextrose and glycerol. The diluted semen is packed into long, thin containers called straws. Each straw contains enough semen for one insemination. Every straw is labelled with the name and number of the bull and the date of packing. The straws are then deep frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -142°C or in liquid nitrogen vapour at a temperature of -125°C. Although semen will freeze at any temperature below 0°C, it is safe from injury only when it is below - 40°C. to - 65°C. Freezing of sperm in N(l) also allows sperm to remain viable for 20 years or more after collection.

As the temperature rises above the safe zone, ice crystals in the semen will enlarge and move, causing damage to the sperm and reducing their viability. Once a straw has been thawed out it must be used at once or thrown away. Each straw contains 0.5ml or diluted semen. By using deep frozen semen, one bull can produce enough semen to inseminate 30 000 to 40 000 cows a year. Using natural service, one bull might serve 50 cows a year.

The semen is thawed out and deposited into the uterus of the cow using a special instrument consisting of a long plunger and a long, thin plastic tube. A cow is inseminated when she is on heat. The plastic tube must be passed through the cervix and the semen placed into the uterus so that it is available to fertilise the egg after ovulation has taken place. Insemination is a skilled process and should be carried out only by a trained operator. A good inseminator should achieve an 80% conception rate.

Praise for this course:

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, Australia

After Your Studies

This course leaves graduates with a different perspective and awareness of animal breeding.

  • You will understand what it takes to breed different types of animals
  • You will have an ability to research and understand breeding specific types of animals, with a much greater awareness than before your studies
  • You will see  possibilities you may not have seen before
  • You will improve your value as an employee whether in the pet industry, agriculture or in wildife management
  • You will be more capable of working with animals -self employed or working for someone else.

Who can benefit from this course?

  • Farmers
  • Animal Breeders
  • Pet Shop Owners
  • Stock agents
  • Pet Owners

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Fee Information (S2)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $781.66  1 x $710.60
B 2 x $416.96  2 x $379.05

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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