Animal Breeding BAG301

Study Animal Breeding

  • Study where and when you want
  • Support from our team of highly qualified and experienced animal scientists and practitioners
  • Develop a fundamental understanding of how to breed animals

Learn to plan implementation of an animal breeding program using genetic theory, practical applications to daily husbandry practice, and management of animal breeding programs.

Who can benefit from this Course?

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

The course includes a sound introduction to genetics which gives it relevance to any type of animal (pets, farm animals, wildlife, horses, dogs, etc)



There are 7 lessons as follows:

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 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

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.


The following provides examples of some of the things that you would be asked to do within the course:

  • 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.

How Effective Can Controlled Breeding Be?

When animals breed in the wild, the characteristics of progeny (offspring) are relatively unpredictable; but breeding by man is able to produce 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.

Without controlled and informed animal breeding, the world we live in could be very different.


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 examining the progeny that are produced.

Progeny testing tests are one way this might be done. These 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, namely:

  • collecting, diluting, freezing and packing the semen from the bull; and
  • 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.


Comment from someone who studied 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, Australian student 



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.

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Fee Information (S2)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $726.00  1 x $660.00
B 2 x $396.00  2 x $360.00

Note: Australian prices include GST. 
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