Do you know about the incredible world of Animal Science?

Socrates once remarked, “Know thyself.”

Today I ask you, do you know about the amazing world of Animal Science? Do you know what it takes to succeed in this field?

Perhaps we should start at the beginning.

Road (Failing forward): Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash

Before I introduce you to the dynamic career of Animal Science, what animals do you like? Are you obsessed with farm animals like cattle, sheep, chickens, pigs, and horses? What about dairy? Would you like an opportunity to formulate petfood or even feed for crocodiles?

I have great news for you. If you answered yes, Animal Science may be the perfect career for you!

I studied Animal Science because I have always loved animals. I am curious by nature and am a real science “geek”. On top of that, there has always been the drive in me to make a difference.

The University of Arkansas defines Animal Science as “the biological science and management of domestic livestock. “Animal Science doesn’t stop there though. It can be applied. People in my network are now formulating petfood and feed for crocodiles, because of having studied Animal Science (Go and google In2Feed). Others have specialised in Wildlife Conservation with Animal Science as their background. Someone I studied with works with rhinos, and someone else works in vulture conservation.

Animal Science opens many doors of opportunity for you.

But what exactly does an Animal Scientist do daily?

It depends on what field you choose. Here are the main three fields.

Oh, and by the way, it is a myth that Animal Science is completely office based.

Animal Science has three main fields to specialise in, namely Nutrition, Physiology and Genetics. If you specialise in Nutrition, you will likely be working at Animal Feed Companies. For Genetics, you could be working at Breeder’s Societies or for the SA Studbook. As for Physiology, common workplaces are semen and embryo collection companies, and artificial insemination companies. (SASAS, 2023).  Other places of employment in Animal Science are feedlots, the pharmaceutical industry, regulative and legislative institutions, and research and development institutions (SASAS, 2023). One can become a consultant, or a Technical Advisor; just to add a few more vocations. This is without even touching on the industries that interlink with Animal Science.

I asked Jason Reding, Livestock Geneticist at SA Studbook what the most important skill for an Animal Scientist is. He said, “The ability to communicate effectively is the most important skill. The duality of being able to talk to a farmer on the ground, and a fellow researcher at a Scientific Conference…Effective communication allows individuals and in turn organisations, to have a better idea of where they stand in the greater scheme of the Agricultural Industry.”

I could not agree more. The ability to communicate cannot be overstated. I would also add knowledge of your content, and basic soft skills.

I also asked Jason what advice he would give an aspiring Animal Scientist.

His words were, “To be the best version of yourself. What makes you different from other up-and-coming Animal Scientists? Identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on weaknesses… We have a saying in my circle of friends that even if you failed, you at least failed forward. That something was learnt, observed, and taken away in the process that will allow you to tackle a similar problem with greater knowledge, as well as more confidence.”

Remember also, that it takes time to grow into a role. As you study and step into the world of work, you will continue to learn. The trick is to embrace every day as a new learning opportunity. As long as you have a growth mindset, you are far ahead of the herd (get it!)

John Maxwell, a thought leader in growth and leadership was quoted as saying “The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.”

Animal Science is an exciting career. Do you know yourself well enough to tell if you would like to become an Animal Scientist?

SASAS.2023. About Animal Science.

University of Arkansas. n.d. Animal Science.

Compiled by: Tanja Werle BSc. Agric Animal Science (UP), PGCE (UP)