Animal Anatomy and Physiology (Animal Husbandry I ) BAG101

Study Livestock Biology

  • Learn about Anatomy and Physiology of Animals
  • Underpin your ability to manage the production of quality livestock on a farm
  • Flexible 100 hr course, self paced study

If you work with animals and have never studied their biology; this is an important course for you. It is only through a proper scientific understanding of animal anatomy and physiology, that you are going to ever fully understand how animals function, and how you should care for them.

Course Structure

There are 11 lessons as follows:

  1. Introduction, Cells & Tissues- Livestock classes, livestock products, interrelationship between crops and livestock, cells and tissues, special properties of cells, osmosis, nutrient waste.

  2. The Digestive System - Digestive system, mouth, tongue, teeth, oesophagus, simple stomach, small intestine, large intestine, ruminant stomach, accessory organs of the digestive system, digestion, absorption and utilisation in the simple stomach, enzymes, breakdown by microorganisms, digestion, aborption and utilisation in the ruminant stomach, mechanical action, action of micro-organisms, utilisation of the end products of digestion,

  3. The Circulatory System - Circulatory system, composition of blood, functions of blood, clotting mechanism, immunity, blood vessels, arteries, veins, capillaries, physiology of the circulatory system, rates of heart beats, spleen, lympathic system, circulatory networks.

  4. The Urinary System - Anatomy of the urinary system, kidneys, ureter, bladder, physiology of urinary system, excretion in different animals.

  5. The Nervous System - Central and peripheral nervous system, main parts of the nervous system, neurones, sensory neurones, motor neurones, central nervous system, the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system, cranial nerves, spinal nerves, autonomic nervous system, reflex actions, endocrine system, structure and function of the ear, hearing, structure and function of the eye, the iris, structure and function of the nose.

  6. Respiration - Anatomy of respiration, trachea, bronchial tree, lungs, physiology of respiration, gaseous exchange, rate and depth of breathing.
  8. The Reproductive System- Anatomy of the male reproductive system, testes, accessory organs, penis, physiology of male reproductive system, hormone production, sperm production, erection, ejaculation, fertility problems in males, venereal diseases, other diseases, injury, physical immaturity, emotional immaturity, nutrition, poor handling, anatomy of female reproductive system, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, physiology of the female reproductive system, ovulation, oestrus cycle, fertility problems, difficulties conceiving, venereal and other diseases, physical abnormalities, nutrition, inability to carry a fetus to full term, pregnancy and parturition, fertilisation, pregnancy, parturition,birth process, difficult births, structure of the mammary glands, secretion of milk, milk ejection, reproduction data for cows, sows and ewes. 
  10. Muscles & Meat - Muscles and meat, smooth muscle, striated voluntary muscle, cardiac muscle, structure of meat, dressing out percentage, composition of the beef animal, meat quality and tenderness, juiciness, flavour, cuts and joints of meat.
  11. The Skeleton- Bones, how bones are formed, anatomy of bones, fractures and fracture healing, five types of bone, joints of bone, the skeleton, dentition, the dental formula, cattle, dental formula of an ox and cow, eruption of permanent teeth, pigs.

  12. Animal Growth, Development and The Endocrine System - Growth and development, growth curve, prenatal growth, post-natal growth, fat, factors which affect the size of newborns, factors affecting post-natal growth, early maturing, compensatory growth, endocrine system, pituitary gland, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal bodies, pancreas, testes, ovaries, pineal body, mucous membrane of the stomach.

  13. Comparing Different Animals- Poultry, digestion, gullet, crop, proventriculus, gizzard, intestine, caecum, rectum, incubating eggs, natural incubation, symptoms of a broody hen, fish.

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.



On successful completion of the course you should be able to do the following:

  • Differentiate and describe the basic structure and function of animal cells and tissues.
  • Explain the digestive system, in terms of both structure and function, of animals.
  • Explain the circulatory systems, in terms of both structure and function, of animals.
  • Explain the urinary system, in terms of structure and function, of animals.
  • Explain the nervous system, in terms of structure and function, of animals.
  • Explain the respiratory system, in terms of structure and function, of animals.
  • Explain the reproductive system, including structure and function, of animals.
  • Explain the skeletal system, in terms of structure and function of animals.
  • Explain the biological mechanisms underlying the growth and development of specified animal species.
  • Explain the endocrine system, in terms of structure and function, of animals.
  • Explain the muscular system, including the structure, function, and meat quality of animals.
  • Explain the differences between various types of farm animals, in terms of structure and function.
  • Explain the nature of animals in the primary production industry, with specific reference to your locality.


These are just some of the things you will be doing:

  • Identify parts of an animal cell on an unlabeled diagram.
  • Describe the major features of a living animal cell, including structure and function.
  • Describe one example, of cell interaction in live animals.
  • Describe the cell functions for three different types of cells in animals.
  • Differentiate between the cellular composition, using illustrations, of animal tissues.
  • Explain the functions of four different animal tissue types.
  • Describe the processes of nutrient and waste exchange in animal cells.
  • Label a diagram of the digestive system of three different animals.
  • Describe the processes occurring in digestion, in each section of the digestive system.
  • Compare the digestive systems of different farm animals.
  • Describe the action of enzymes and micro-organisms in animal digestion.
  • Explain the role of accessory organs, including: *the liver *the pancreas.
  • Explain the components of blood in animals.
  • Explain the biological functions of blood in animals.
  • Label on unlabeled illustrations, the parts of the circulatory system in a chosen animal.
  • Explain the structure of an artery by illustrating and labeling a diagram of it's five layers.
  • Distinguish the characteristics of the various types of blood vessels in animals.
  • Explain the role of the lymphatic system in a specified farm animal.
  • Dissect an animal heart, and identify the parts of the heart on a photograph or the dissection.
  • Label on an unlabeled diagram, the parts of the urinary system of an animal.
  • Explain the role of the urinary system farm animals, including comments on urinary malfunction.
  • Describe the operation of the various parts of the urinary system, in a specified  animal.
  • Describe the different components of the nervous systems of animals.
  • Distinguish between the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.
  • Explain the function of the autonomic nervous system in an animal.
  • Describe, using labelled illustrations and a report, the structure of the sensory organs.
  • Explain the function of the sensory organs. 
  • Describe components of the respiratory system of animals.
  • Explain the purpose of the respiratory system in animals.
  • Explain the means by which the respiratory system functions in animals.
  • Describe the process of gaseous exchange between the alveolus and capillaries.
  • Explain the means by which the rate of breathing is controlled in animals.
  • Label unlabeled diagrams of the male and female reproductive systems of an animal species.
  • Describe the function of each of the components of the male reproductive system.
  • Explain the physiological processes in the male reproductive system.
  • Explain the different fertility problems occurring in a chosen male farm animal species.
  • Describe the function of components of the female reproductive system.
  • Explain the physiological processes in the female reproductive system.
  • Explain various fertility problems in a chosen female farm animal species.
  • Explain two different 'difficult birth' conditions encountered in animals.
  • Explain the role of the skeletal system in an animal.
  • Label different skeletal parts on a series of unlabeled diagrams.
  • Distinguish, on labelled sketches, between samples of five different types of bones.
  • Describe the anatomy of a typical long bone in animals.
  • Explain how bone is formed in an animal.
  • Explain the operation of a freely moving skeletal joint, in an animal.
  • Differentiate, using illustrations, between types of bone fractures in farm animals, including: simple breaks and compound fractures.
  • Describe, using illustrations and a report, the healing process for the different types of fractures.
  • Explain the cellular processes of growth and development of specified animal species.
  • Describe pre-natal and post-natal growth processes in a specified farm animal.
  • List the factors which influence the size of newborn animals.
  • List the factors which influence growth after birth.
  • List the components of the endocrine system in a chosen species.
  • Distinguish between different endocrine glands, for the specified animal, by location, appearance and function.
  • Describe five hormones found in farm animals, including for each their: *source *sites of activity *modes of activity *metabolism within the body.
  • Explain the role of the endocrine system in animals.
  • Distinguish between illustrations or photographs of different muscle types, including: *smooth muscle *cardiac muscle *striated muscle.
  • Compare the function of the three types of muscle.
  • Describe the components of the musculatory system of a specified farm animal.
  • Explain the relationship between meat quality and muscle development.
  • Identify, on unlabeled illustrations, the cuts and joints of meat derived from sheep, cattle and pigs.
  • Prepare a table/chart on an A3 sheet of paper which shows characteristics that distinguish mammals from poultry, fish, crustaceans; in terms of each of the main regulatory systems (to include: circulatory, digestive, skeletal, muscular, reproductive and nervous systems).
  • Differentiate between the structural and physiological characteristics of two farm animal genera from the same taxonomic class.
  • Distinguish between major animal types used in primary production, including: *birds *fish *ruminants *non-ruminants.
  • List different types of products produced commercially from various types of farm animals, including: *cattle *sheep *poultry *pigs *aquaculture.
  • Explain the role of pastures for animal husbandry, in your locality.
  • Report on the scope of farm animal production, in your locality.

Duration:   100 hours


Check our range of mail order animal husbandry and biology texts (reviewed and selected by our academic staff); available mail order through the ACS Bookshop   

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Types of Muscle
There are three kinds of muscle:
  • smooth (or involuntary) muscle
  • striated (or voluntary) muscle
  • cardiac muscle

Smooth Muscle

In animals smooth muscle is found in the walls of the intestines, in the urogenital system and in the blood vessels.  It is called involuntary muscle because it works automatically, without any conscious effort by the person or animal.  A good example is peristalsis, the muscular contractions and relaxation which move food down the oesophagus and the small and large intestines.  Smooth muscle is made up of elongated, spindle-shaped cells with the nucleus placed in the middle of the cell as seen.

Striated Voluntary Muscle

These muscles are made up of bundles of long fibres.  Each fibre is a muscle cell.  The fibres have many nuclei that are placed near the surface of each cell. Each individual muscle cell is made up of smaller fibres called myofibrils (myo - meaning "muscle" in Greek).  A sheath called the sarcolemma holds the myofibrils in a bundle and connects the muscle cell to tendons and gives elasticity.  Each muscle fibre is controlled and activated by a branch from a motor neuron from the nervous system.

Under a powerful electron microscope, bands can be seen on each myofibril. This consists of very fine filaments of two proteins, actin and myosin.  During the contraction of the muscle, it is believed that the actin filaments slide together so that neither the actin nor the myosin filaments actually change their lengths. The contraction of muscles is a positive action and requires energy to be carried out. 

When you pick up a brick, the muscles of the arm and fingers contract as you grip the brick and the arm muscles contract as you lift the brick upwards.  You can drop the brick by relaxing the arm and finger muscles.  Throwing the brick requires more contraction of the muscles and a greater supply of energy.  This energy is supplied as a result of a number of chemical reactions which take place inside the muscles.
One such reaction is the breakdown of a substance called Adenosine Tri-Phosphatase (or ATP). The protein filaments of myosin act as an enzyme to break down ATP to ADP (Adenosine Di-Phosphatase) and phosphoric acid.  This reaction releases a great deal of energy which is used by the muscle fibres to cause contraction.  As long as ATP is being broken down the muscle remains active, but when this reaction stops, the muscle becomes relaxed.  Another reaction is the breakdown of glycogen into lactic acid with the production of energy.

Cardiac Muscle

This type of muscle is striated (or striped) and is involuntary.  It differs from striated voluntary muscle in the following ways:

  • the nuclei are placed in the centre of the cells
  • the fibres branch out to form networks
  • between the cells there are membranes called intercalated discs
  • more importantly, cardiac muscle is not subject to fatigue in the way that striated voluntary muscle becomes tired and less effective 


If you work with animals you need to understand their anatomy and physiology. This  knowledge forms a foundation for everything from animal health to animal behaviour and performance.
  • By understanding the parts of an animal, you have a basis upon which to understand what is normal and abnormal
  • Through an understanding of the chemical and biological processes that occur in an animals body; you build that understanding even further.
  • Anatomy and Physiology is a key starting point for studies in many different disciplines including: veterinary science, farming, zoological science and pet care.

You may undertake this course by itself for various reasons, such as:

  • It can help you get a job, or advance your employment prospects in a job you already have.
  • It can provide an opportunity to both learn a little about animals; and also discover whether you want to study at a higher level (without having to commit to a full diploma or degree up front).
  • It can give you a head start for doing a more substantial qualification (eg. People who have undertaken this type of course will have a much better chance of success if they attempt a diploma or degree -because they already understand the basics, and have something to build on).


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