About us

Our department has all the resources to give you an education that will provide you with a sought-after qualification in the field of animal science. We are committed to providing outstanding and relevant academic programmes and appropriate practical training in animal science.

The Department is proud of its rich tradition spanning more than 100 years, its excellent academic staff, experimental farms and a legacy of service to our students, alumni and the agricultural industries

Our department has all the resources to give you an education that will provide you with a sought-after qualification in the field of animal science. We are committed to providing outstanding and relevant academic programmes and appropriate practical training in animal science.

Disciplines in Animal Science
Animal breeding and genetics

Animal breeding is the specialisation in animal science, dealing with the breeding of livestock and other species, with the aim to genetically improve and/or conserve a population (e.g. breed or herd) of animals. This is basically done through the selection and mating of those animals that have the desired traits, according to the breeding objectives decided upon for that population. The process to achieve this objective includes research and development of:

Appropriate performance testing techniques and procedures, Animal, parentage and performance recording techniques and systems, Data processing techniques and models to do breeding value predictions. Lastly, but most important, the interpretation and practical application of such breeding values and related genetic information in a scientific and balanced way to achieve the breeding objective.

The animal breeder plays the role of a "genetic engineer" in the development of future generations. Unfortunately, the results of an animal breeding programme can usually only be seen after some years, because the generation interval of most livestock species is long - for cattle it is about five years.

The basic training of the animal breeder should include sito and molecular genetics and biometrics. Because sophisticated mixed model technology is used nowadays for breeding value prediction, the animal breeder will need special training in this field. Aspects of importance are variance and co-variance estimation, contemporary group definition, etc. A love for applied mathematics and analysing data sets will surely be required to make a success in this facet of the animal breeding discipline.

The practical application of breeding values in a balanced way, taking into consideration many factors, is probably the more interesting and challenging task of the animal breeder. To make a success of this facet, it is crucial to have a thorough knowledge of breeding systems, setting of breeding objectives and breeding strategies, choosing the appropriate selection criteria, and, finally, the application of this knowledge in a balanced way to suit the particular production system and environment as well as market needs. A holistic approach, without losing focus on details, is required for this.

The animal breeder is the first link in the animal production chain, and therefore carries a large responsibility in supplying the rest of the production chain with animals that will make money for all involved, while also satisfying the needs of the consumer and society in terms of product quantity, quality, safety, consistency and animal welfare.

Contacts: Prof Este van Marle-Koster / Prof. Carina Visser

                [email protected] / [email protected]

Reproductive physiology

Reproductive physiology provide students with the knowledge of anatomy and physiology of the reproductive system, causes of reproductive failure and latest reproductive technologies for improving reproductive performance of farm animals. The research part studies fundamental principles of reproductive biology necessary for development of systems to enhance the efficiency of animal reproduction and production. Research projects include the use of antioxidants and reproductive technologies such as oestrous synchronisation, artificial insemination, gamete cryopreservation and in vitro fertilisation to enhance animal reproduction and production performance.

Contacts:   Prof Edward Webb / Miss Rimbilana Shingange / Dr. Heike Lucht

                   [email protected] / [email protected] / [email protected]

Mono-gastric nutrition

Over the years, research towards understanding the gut health of mono-gastric animals and its influence on feed utilisation efficiency, and therefore growth performance and meat yield has taken centre stage. Several feed additives, from in-feed antibiotic growth promoter to natural additives are tested on the efficient utilisation of various conventional and non-conventional feed resources that may enable least cost formulations that will maximise productivity as well as profit margins in pig and poultry enterprises. The goal for any nutritionist is to ensure that the animal’s genetic potential is optimised with different ingredients and processing for energy balance and maximum nutrient digestibility throughout the production cycle when housed in a conducive environment under good management. Our pig and poultry research, therefore, is about generating fundamental knowledge producing livestock in an efficient and sustainable way. Research emphasis is on enhancing digestive physiology of pigs and poultry focusing on gut health for optimal digestibility, therefore enhanced growth performance, while not compromising animal welfare standards. Our teaching and technology transfer endeavours aim to disseminate this information and thereby increase the production of safe and nutritious pig and poultry products using environmentally sustainable technologies.

Contacts: Dr Thobela Nkukwana / Dr Christine Jansen van Rensburg

                 [email protected][email protected]

Ruminant nutrition

Contacts: Prof Abubeker Hassen / Dr. Linde du Toit

                [email protected] / [email protected]


Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal

To contact the University during the COVID-19 lockdown, please send an email to [email protected]

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences