In general, animal science deals with the study of non-human animals. More specifically, the discipline emphasizes domestic animals, or animals that are controlled and cared for to some degree by humans. Major biological issues such as physiology, anatomy, and development are investigated by animal scientists. These studies are then applied to issues ranging from animal nutrition to animal reproduction. Targeted sub-disciplines include agriculture and veterinary medicine.
The main area of focus in animal science is the structure and function of domesticated animals. Therefore, scientists may investigate specific body organs and their capacities as well as cellular and chemical processes that take place within the animals. More specific areas of study can result from these investigations, such as cycles of reproduction and how the animals respond to various foods.
Environmental influences and human intervention play a major role in these animals’ lives, so consideration of these issues is commonplace as well. For example, factors like climate and soil richness affect plant growth, and plants are the primary source of nourishment for many domesticated animals. As such, these factors are often of great interest to individuals involved with animal science. Mankind also greatly impacts animals and domesticated animals in particular, either in a personal caretaker capacity or with more large-scale considerations like habitat-destroying industrial growth or animal-based laws and regulations.
Subdisciplines of animal science are numerous. Agricultural science, though, is arguably the area in which animal science has the longest history. In fact, the overall discipline at one time almost exclusively covered farm animals. The study of common farm animals like cows, pigs, and chickens continues at the higher education level and in the everyday world. Common areas of interest might include feeding and grazing patterns, mating habits, and disease susceptibility
Many institutions for higher education offer animal science degrees. Students will often conduct research on live animals and work in correlation with animal-focused businesses like local farms. Classes may focus on subjects like food science, breeding, and microbiology.
Once an individual has entered into animal science studies, a number of career options exist. Since farm animals were the cornerstone of early animal science forays, many individuals continue the tradition by entering into agricultural careers. Others may choose to work with specific animals like horses in equestrian disciplines or dolphins and other domesticated sea creatures in aquatic centers as animal trainers. Medical or science-based careers such as veterinary medicine or zoology provide another source of employment. Additional opportunities include the following: groomer, game warden, animal nutrition specialist, jockey, park ranger, and animal technician.