The School of Animal Sciences offers two degree programs (Animal and Poultry Sciences and Dairy Science) as well as several options within each degree. With expert faculty in fields and species across the animal sciences, our students are well-trained in science-based education and hands-on learning for careers in the animal sciences as well as graduate and professional schools, such as veterinary school.
The Animal and Poultry Sciences degree provides students with a broad science-based education tailored to meet their needs and career goals. The program prepares students for careers in livestock, poultry, and equine industries, and with companion animals, laboratory animals, agribusiness, research, and teaching. The curriculum also provides preparation for professional schools including veterinary medicine, medical school and other health professions, as well as graduate school. This major combines education in the basic sciences of animal nutrition, genetics, and physiology with management principles as applied to the raising and merchandising of beef cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, swine, and their products, as well as pets and other companion animals. Students are encouraged to participate in independent studies, undergraduate research, and internship programs. Study abroad opportunities are also available.
The Animal and Poultry Sciences curriculum allows students to tailor their education to their academic and career goals. Students combine an option and an emphasis based on their specific interests.
Two minors are offered in the Animal and Poultry Sciences program: Animal and Poultry Sciences and Equine Science. Both minors require a minimum of 18 credits. Minor checksheets can be found at the following website - https://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation-multi-brief/checksheets.html.
The purpose of the Dairy Science degree is to offer students the opportunity to prepare themselves for a wide variety of careers by developing their technical and interpersonal skills. We offer a challenging yet flexible curriculum that can be individualized to meet the educational needs and interests of each student, counseling to assist each student in designing individual programs, and extracurricular activities to enhance development of interpersonal skills.
Students may select from three curricula: Dairy Business Management, Science/Pre-Veterinary, and Dual Emphasis. All options provide students with the opportunity to acquire a broad education in the sciences, social sciences, economics, mathematics, and communications while learning the basic principles of dairy enterprise management.
Nearly all Dairy Science students complete a second major or minor and they are encouraged to actively participate in extracurricular clubs, judging teams and the dairy management team. Ninety five percent of students complete at least one internship prior to graduation and nearly half complete undergraduate research, an independent study, or serve as a teaching assistant.
Active participation in research projects in lactation, genetics, nutrition, nutrient management, and management provide qualified students valuable research experience with departmental scientists as well as part-time employment opportunities. These opportunities are available to students in all options and enhance their preparation for advanced study and provide a better understanding of the research process.
Students may minor in Dairy Science. The minor requires the completion of a total of 19 credit hours. Courses that may be taken for the minor are listed on the minor checksheet found on the following website - https://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation-multi-brief/checksheets.html.
The graduation requirements in effect during the academic year of admission to Virginia Tech apply. When choosing the degree requirements information, always choose the year you started at Virginia Tech. Requirements for graduation are referred to via university publications as "Checksheets." The number of credit hours required for degree completion varies among curricula. Students must satisfactorily complete all requirements and university obligations for degree completion. The university reserves the right to modify requirements in a degree program.
Please visit the University Registrar's website at https://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation-multi-brief/checksheets.html for degree requirements.
Note: Advisors work with students to individualize the course of study.
University policy requires that students who are making satisfactory progress toward a degree meet minimum criteria toward the General Education (Pathways) (see "Academics") and toward the degree.
Satisfactory progress requirements toward the specific degree can be found on the major checksheet by visiting the University Registrar website at https://www.registrar.vt.edu/graduation-multi-brief/checksheets.html.
Director: D. E. Gerrard
Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor of Dairy Science: A. D. Ealy
Colonel Horace E. Alphin Professor of Dairy Science: K. F. Knowlton
David R. and Margaret Lincicome Professor of Agriculture: M. D. Hanigan6
Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of Agriculture: S. E. Johnson
Professors: A. D. Ealy, M. J. Estienne, D. E. Gerrard, E. R. Gilbert, S. P. Greiner, H. Jiang, S. E. Johnson, J. W. Knight, J. J. Maurer, M. E. Persia, R. P. Rhoads Jr., and E. J. Smith and E. A. Wong
Associate Professors: M. A. Cline, F. Biase, B. A. Corl, K. M. Daniels, S. W. El-Kadi, D. E. Eversole, G. Ferreira, E. Feuerbacher, L. Jacobs, T. J. Jarome, G. Morota, C. S. Petersson-Wolfe, V. Mercadante, M. L. Rhoads, R. White, and C. M. Wood
Assistant Professors: A. Azahar, F. Biase, S. Campbell, J. Chen, R. Cockrum, L. Gunter, and J. Osorio
Associate Professor of Practice: J. S. Bedore
Assistant Professor of Practice: K. J. Heiderscheit and M. Miller
A/P Faculty: S. Arnold, K. Carter, N. Duncan, T. Golightly, P. M. Mercadante, B. Sheely, and J. Wicks
Advanced Instructor: L. Bergamasco and W. A. White
Lecturer: D. R. Winston
Research Associate Professor: T. Fernandes and T.H. Shi
Research Assistant Professor: E.T. Helm
Career Advisors: J. S. Bedore, B. A. Corl, D. E. Eversole, K. J. Heiderscheit, K. F. Knowlton, P. M. Mercadante, and C. M. Wood
Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising
Academy of Teaching Excellence inductee
Wine Award recipient
Sporn Award recipient
Alumni Award for Extension Excellence
Alumni Award for Research Excellence
Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence
Academy of Faculty Service
Commonwealth of Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award
Diggs Teaching Scholar Awards
Survey of systems of livestock and poultry production including: concepts and terminology pertaining to management and marketing; types and breeds of livestock and poultry; and an introduction to nutrition, genetics, physiology, and management of beef cattle, horses, sheep, swine and poultry.
Management practices and concepts related to efficient livestock and poultry production and marketing are taught through demonstrations and hands-on experience.
Orientation course for freshman and transfer APSC students providing skills, resources and fundamental knowledge to enhance learning experiences and support success. Skills, resources, opportunities, curriculum, and career planning. Emphasis on inquiry, problem-solving skills, critical thinking and integration of ideas and experiences to encourage life-long learning.
Introduction to modern forward seat equitation. No previous experience necessary. Familiarization with parts of the horse, tack, gaits. Control at walk, trot, canter, including trot work over rolling terrain.
Identification of primary and secondary career objectives for Animal and Poultry Science majors; planning for completion of a capstone learning experience in the major. Identification of curricular and extracurricular activities to increase career opportunities. Improvement of professional and technical writing skills applicable to the animal sciences field.
Introduction to the fundamental principles of neuroscience. 2025: Structure and function of central nervous system in humans and other animals, signal processing and transmission, development of neural and brain circuits, encoding and transmission of sensory and perceptual information, motor control/movement. 2026: Complex brain processes including learning, memory, emotion, decision making, social behavior, and mental and functioning.
Introduction to the fundamental principles of neuroscience. 2025: Structure and function of central nervous system in humans and other animals, signal processing and transmission, development of neural and brain circuits, encoding and transmission of sensory and perceptual information, motor control/movement. 2026: Complex brain processes including learning, memory, emotion, decision making, social behavior, and mental health, and functioning.
Anatomy and physiology of birds including species-specific specializations in anatomical structure and body composition, musculoskeletal, respiratory, reproductive, endocrine, digestive and urinary systems. Relationship of these concepts to growth and egg production. Includes handling live birds.
Safety in livestock handling; animal behavior; care, housing, and managerial practices related to beef cattle, sheep, and swine taught through experiential activities.
Principles of safe horse handling practices and applied horse management skills, taught through experiential activities.
Brief history of companion and laboratory animals. Outline of the major anatomical and physiological characteristics, first aid and basic care. Principles of husbandry and handling techniques. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee training.
Introduction to the horse and equine industry. Survey of breeds and conformation; breeding, management, equipment, facilities, and marketing of the successful horse operation.
Appropriate care and resulting well-being of dogs, cats, and other animals that are used primarily for companionship and recreation require knowledge of their evolution, natural habitats, species and breed characteristics, behavior, breeding, feeding, housing and training. This course integrates these topics to promote a symbiotic human-animal relationship. Information regarding the scope and impact of the companion animal industry will be discussed along with a survey of associated careers.
Intermediate work in horseback riding with special emphasis on development of the forward seat and skills required for jumping. Elementary dressage movements. Equitation Fee: $1,240.
Introduction of jumping skills for the unskilled as well as review of jumping skills for experienced riders. Rider should have skills at trot and canter. Equitation Fee: $1,240.
Evaluation of equine conformation as related to locomotion, athletic performance and soundness. Basic understanding of breed standards, gaits, and rules and regulations pertaining to various equine sports disciplines, from both domestic and global perspectives. Investigation of current scientific literature regarding equine conformation and biomechanics.
Comparative aspects of companion and laboratory animals including physiology, anatomy, nutrition, genetics and reproduction. Normal behaviors along with techniques of behavior modifications.
Environmental issues associated with animal agriculture. Nutrient contamination of water resources, odor emission from livestock farms, environmental regulations affecting animal agriculture, and management practices to reduce the impacts of livestock farms on air and water quality.
Muscle biology and biochemistry, fresh meat processing, meat merchandising, processed meats, food safety, meat cookery, and regulations.
Harvesting of livestock, carcass fabrication into wholesale and retail cuts, fresh meat processing and cookery. Handling, processing and displaying fresh and processed beef, pork, and lamb. Applications of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and food safety concepts to meat processing environments.
Products obtained from animals (meat, eggs, dairy, by-products). Effect of production and processing of food animals upon product safety and quality.
Normal and teratological embryology are intensively examined from ovulation through hatching or birth. Environmental, nutritional and genetic factors affecting embryogenesis. Even years.
Historical overview of animal welfare and bioethics. Animal welfare issues in farm and companion animals with respect to their use and treatment in the United States and in the global community. The influences of animal protection organizations, consumer groups, politicians, the scientific community, and other stakeholders on the development and enforcement of policies. Pre: Junior Standing.
Microbes and their physiology in animal production. Host-microbe interactions at a cellular/system level. Microbial pathogenesis, microbiome, and metabolism in animal health. Cellular responses to microbe colonization of its animal host. Relate microbial metabolism with diet and animal growth and development. Examine the underlying mechanism behind disease or health resulting from microbe interactions.
Avian embryology and physiological systems, poultry genetics, microbiome, diseases, biotechnology, health and welfare. Social and economic issues facing the poultry industry.
Establishment of sound jumping skills. Continuation of more advanced flat work. Study of hunter courses and cross country jumping. Equitation Fee: $1,240.
Advanced methods and techniques for jumping and precision riding. Equitation Fee: $1,240.
An advanced, variable-content course which explores a topic in the animal sciences such as a significant contemporary issue; an emerging research area of interest to undergraduates; or a semester-long project involving a small group of students. May be repeated for up to three credits, no more than two credits per term.
In-depth analysis of equine conformation and performance. Emphasis on knowledge of breed standards, critical thinking skills, and oral justification of decisions. Equivalent experience may be substituted for the pre-requisite APSC 2824 with instructor approval.
Selection of market and breeding animals based on subjective and objective methods of evaluation. Basic understanding of evaluation principles, form-to-function, expected progeny differences, and performance records of beef cattle, swine, and sheep. Involves accurate decision making and oral reason presentations.
A comprehensive study of the principles and activities involved in successfully promoting and merchandising livestock. A livestock auction (Hokie Harvest Sale) is held at the conclusion of the course to provide experiences in advertising, salesmanship, livestock photography, facility development, sale management, and budgeting. Pre: Junior standing or consent.
Application of fundamental behavioral concepts and principles to the training of horses in routine handling and groundwork. Preparation, marketing and presentation of horses for show and sale.
Applying critical thinking, ethical reasoning and problem solving in order to make ethical decisions in regard to important contemporary issues in animal agriculture and other areas of the animal sciences; discourse through oral and written communication.
A contemporary analysis of the development, utility and application of high-resolution methods for the study and manipulation of the complete genomes of organisms. The use of new techniques for genomic, metabolic and protein engineering (functional genomics), including high-throughput methods and nanotechnology, will be emphasized.
Comparative aspects of companion animals including physiology, anatomy, nutrition, genetics, reproduction and well-being. Normal and aberrant behaviors along with techniques of behavior modification and pharmacological intervention. Critical evaluation of current legal and ethical issues in the companion animal industry. Limited to dogs, cats and caged birds. Pre-requisite: Junior Standing required Pre-requisites may be waived with permission of instructor.
Application of principles needed to effectively monitor and manage equine herd health. Focus on information synthesis, situation assessment and decision-making skills to develop preventative care protocols and treat illness. Practical application of horse health care techniques for routine and minor emergency situations.
Analysis, formulation, and improvement of diets fed to horses in different physiological stages and metabolic statuses. Nutrient digestion, absorption, and utilization of nutrients. Computer-based ration formulation for horses. Applying economic principles to ration formulation and communicate equine nutrition concepts.
Comprehensive study of conditioning the equine athlete using the principles of exercise physiology, energetics, kinetics, and sports medicine. Anatomy and physiology as it relates to exercise, conditioning and fitness assessment; exercise intolerance; performance nutrition; and medical practices used to support equine athletics.
Principles and techniques in reproductive physiology and herd management related to health, record keeping, estrus detection and synchronization, uterus and ovary condition. Ovarian function and superovulation, semen handling, artificial insemination and pregnancy detection are also considered.
Principles and techniques in equine reproductive physiology and endocrinology. In-depth examination of equine reproduction strategies combined with practical techniques leading to synthesis and evaluation of breeding decisions. Anatomy and physiology of the mare and stallion, estrus detection and manipulation, artificial insemination, semen handling and processing, parturition and early care of neonates will be covered. Other topics will include selection of breeding stock and mating decisions.
Production, management, and reproduction of meat- and egg-type chickens and turkeys. Emphasis is on the application of basic poultry science principles as they relate to commercial poultry enterprises. Advanced topics of economic analysis, program management, and problem solving used in decision making processes in integrated poultry operations.
Study of the commercial and purebred beef cattle and sheep industries. Principles and applications for successful and profitable beef and sheep production.
Reproduction, genetics, nutrition, herd health, planning and economics of private and commercial horse farms, and current issues in the horse industry.
Principles for commercial and seedstock swine production; current management practices, housing and marketing; issues and challenges in the swine industry. Experience in husbandry, research, and other management techniques obtained during laboratory.
Animal health, management, well-being, and government regulation in the maintenance, use and enjoyment of companion and laboratory animals.
Meat animal growth and development processes, micro and gross anatomy, stem cell biology and growth, body and carcass composition with application to animal and carcass evaluation.
Application of principles needed to manage profitable and sustainable beef cattle, sheep, and swine enterprises. Use of techniques to develop and evaluate strategies resulting in sound livestock enterprise management decisions. Focus on advanced animal management protocols, enterprise analysis, resource allocation, marketing options and risk management.
Review and critique of scientific literature related to equine science. Focus on creative and critical thinking. Principles and practice of information analysis, synthesis and evaluation through discourse and technical writing. Practical application of research and communication skills.
Student-defined learning experience that utilizes knowledge and skills already learned to acquire new skills, synthesize information and solve problems in the animal sciences. Requires approval from the department before commencement of the experience, and a final report at its conclusion. Open to APSC majors only. Completion of 75 credits towards the APSC degree required.
Safety in dairy cattle handling; animal behavior; care, housing, and managerial practices related to dairy cattle. Experiential activities. Herding, sorting, halter training, health scoring, and milking.
The scope of the dairy science undergraduate program, preparation for careers in dairy and related industries. Hands-on experience working with dairy cattle. Inquiry, problem solving, and integration of ideas and experiences with a focus on the dairy industry.
Impact of animal entrepreneurship on the US agricultural economy. Innovative products and services for the dairy and livestock industries. Strategic planning, human resources, production scheduling, marketing, and financial management for animal enterprises. Capital acquisition. Sensitivity analysis for key planning assumptions. Contingency planning and risk management. Identification of non-traditional career paths in the animal industry. Pre: Sophomore Standing.
Sustainable production, processing, and marketing of milk and milk products domestically and globally. Biology of dairy cattle with emphasis on genetics, reproduction, lactation, and nutrition. Management of dairy herds.
Critical appraisal of dairy cattle conformation and experience in linear trait scoring, linear trait relationships to profitability, competitive judging; written and oral justification; organization and conduct of shows and contests; showmanship. II.
Emphasis on writing and speaking skills for livestock industry or post-baccalaureate education. Self-marketing, job acquisition, press relations, and conduct of meetings and labor management techniques.
Environmental issue associated with animal agriculture. Nutrient contamination of water resources, odor emission from livestock farms, environmental regulations affecting animal agriculture, and management practices to reduce the impacts of livestock farms on air and water quality.
Application of basic principles of nutrition in developing rations for dairy herds. Emphasis is placed on appropriate use of forages, ration formulation techniques, development of profitable rations, and ration delivery.
Development, function, and use of dairy information systems including computerized performance testing programs for dairy cattle improvement and dairy herd management. Dairy management software applications. Precision dairy farming. Whole herd evaluation. Pre: Junior standing.
Application of genetic principles to dairy cattle improvement. Setting goals for genetic improvement, characteristics of traits included in selection, current methods of estimating breeding values, the role of artificial insemination and breed associations in genetic improvement, cattle genetics.
Develop entry level professional animal nutritionist skills; use customer and feed databases, use optimization algorithms to formulate least cost diets and feed mixes, simultaneous consideration of diet cost, animal product return, and environmental constraints; further develop intergrative thinking and problem solving skills.
Principles and techniques in reproductive physiology and herd management related to health, record keeping, estrus detection and synchronization, and ultrasonography. Ovarian function and superovulation, semen handling, artificial insemination and pregnancy detection are also considered.
Anatomy of the mammary gland and physiology of lactation in domestic and laboratory mammals with emphasis on dairy cattle. Mammary gland health and factors affecting lactation. Principles and techniques in dairy herd milking management.
This course is designed to provide students with basic knowledge of immunology as related to diseases of the mammary gland. Concepts of mammary gland immunity, disease etiology, immunopathology, diagnosis and therapy will be covered with a focus on ungulate species. Host pathogen interactions, solving problems, writing intensive, literature search.
Students will learn to critically evaluate all aspects of dairy farm management on working farms. The assessment and recommendations will be developed using information gathered from herd production records and financial statements, visual observations at the farm, and an interview of the farm owner and workers. Data assessed will include milk, growth, health, reproduction, and culling records; cash flow and profit loss statements; nutrition and nutrient management records; and labor management structure. The assessments and reports will further develop integrative thinking, oral communication, and written communication skills.
Decision strategies for modern dairy businesses. 4475: Emphasis on relationships of enterprises and techniques for evaluation of business alternatives, efficiency of production, and profit. Use of microcomputer software to support management decisions. 4476: Concentration on herd replacements, personnel, facilities and issues of management associated with rapidly changing national and international markets, environmental regulations, and computer applications. Group projects and hands-on management of university dairy herd.
Decision strategies for modern dairy businesses. 4475: Emphasis on relationships of enterprises and techniques for evaluation of business alternatives, efficiency of production, and profit. Use of microcomputer software to support management decision. 4476: Concentration on herd replacements, personnel, facilities and issues of management associated with rapidly changing national and international markets, environmental regulations, and computer applications. Group projects and hands-on management of university dairy herd. Pre-requisite may be waived with permission of instructor.
Analysis and interpretation of peer-reviewed literature in dairy science. Focus on dairy industry issues discussed in social media. Critical reasoning, information synthesis, and oral and written discourse. Paper presentations and discussion. Pre: Senior Standing