Animal scientists are concerned with the study, rearing and management of domesticated animals. They use their expertise to assist in the growth and development of the agricultural industry.
They conduct research on livestock in their specific environment, and the products they produce such as meat, milk, eggs, fibres, leather, and a variety of products essential to man. This includes the development of new products and the processing and marketing of animal products. They study the effects of management practices, processing methods, feed or environmental conditions on the quality and quantity of animal products, such as eggs and milk. They also study the nutritional requirements of animals and the nutritive values of animal feed materials. They advise producers about improved products and techniques that could enhance their animal production efforts, and develop improved practices in feeding, housing, sanitation or parasite and disease control of animals.
Animal scientists advise on the production and presentation of animal products. They conduct research in the areas of animal selection, breeding, feeding, housing and disease control. Some control breeding practices to improve strains of animals. They determine the genetic composition of animal populations and heritability of traits, utilising the principles of genetics, crossbreeding animals with existing strains or cross strains to obtain new combinations of desirable characteristics.
Animal scientists make an important contribution in the following areas: assisting the agricultural industry to effectively utilise the natural resources in the country; vital research in the problems of breeding, feeding, housing and disease control; conserving and ensuring the rich biodiversity of animal species found in the country; keeping the country up-to-date with developments in biotechnology in order to remain globally competitive. They communicate their research findings to the scientific community, producers and the public.
The nature of the work varies from working directly with animals and research in laboratories, to travelling in order to consult various parties in the industry. Some animal scientists work in offices and lecture rooms of agricultural colleges and universities or in offices of control boards. Others spend time outdoors working with animals on agricultural experimental farms, company farms, or private research stations.
Areas of specialisation include animal nutrition, animal breeding, animal management and the quality control of meat. The nature of the work varies from working directly with animals to the fundamentals of molecular biotechnology in the laboratory.
Degree: A four-year BSc(Agric) degree can be obtained at the following universities in South Africa: Fort Hare, NWU, NMMU, UKZN, UL, UNISA, UP, US, UV, Agricultural Colleges
Diploma: CUT, CPUT, MUT, TUT
Qualified animal scientists register with the South African Council for Professional Animal Scientists.
The South African Society for Animal Science
P.O. Box 13884
Tel: (012) 420-6017