Animal Scientist

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.

Personal Requirements

  • curious and imaginative
  • scientific aptitude
  • thorough and patient
  • enjoy working with animals
  • good communication skills both in speech and in writing
  • ability to work independently or as part of a team
  • good health, physical stamina

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended subjects: Life Sciences

  • Pass matric with a Bachelor's pass
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university
  • All applications for admission to MBChB and Medical degrees are subject to selection.
  • Due to the limited number of spaces available, only a small percentage of applicants are admitted.

What to Study

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.


  • research organisations
  • Agricultural Research Council
  • CSIR
  • companies involved in farming
  • manufacturing industries
  • Department of Agriculture
  • agricultural colleges and universities                                                                  
  • agricultural advisors and consultants  
  • livestock industry

Further Information

The South African Society for Animal Science
P.O. Box 13884
Hatfield, 0028
Tel: (012) 420-6017

Getting Started

  • speak to an animal scientist about the work
  • try to obtain vacation work, which offers experience working with animals, such as on a farm, in a pet shop, or with a veterinary surgeon

Programmes by Study Institutions


Related Occupations

Study Animal Science at Stellenbosch University

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