An animal breeder could...
|Breed a Kentucky Derby winning thoroughbred horse.||Keep animal pedigrees to determine how traits, like coat color, are inherited.|
|Work with wildlife conservationists to breed endangered animals in captivity.||Help a family settle on an ideal breed of dog for their lifestyle.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||Why is it that certain breeds of cattle produce more flesh or milk? Why is one horse faster than another? The answer is that these breeds were engineered to have these special characteristics. Animal breeders need to understand genetics in order to produce animals that are bigger, faster, or more beautiful. If you are interested in working with animals and are fascinated by the science of genetics, then you should investigate this career.|
|Key Requirements||Must enjoy interacting with and caring for animals, and have patience, curiosity, diligence, and strong problem-solving skills|
|Minimum Degree||Associate's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Biology, chemistry, algebra, algebra II, pre-calculus, English; if available: computer science|
|Projected Job Growth (2010-2020)||Decline Slowly or Moderately (-3% to -9%)|
|Interview||Read an interview with Top Notch Toys magazine dog breeder Cher Hildebrand and learn more about dog breeding and why she enjoys this occupation.|
Training, Other Qualifications
The majority of agricultural workers learn their skills on the job in less than a month. Some occupations, such as animal breeding, require more work experience or formal education.
Education and Training
The education and training requirements for animal breeders vary with the type of breeding they do. For those who breed livestock and other large or expensive animals, a bachelor's or graduate degree in animal science is recommended. Courses include genetics, animal breeding, and animal physiology. For those with experience raising animals or who are breeding their own animals, a bachelor's degree often is not needed, but an associate's degree or other training in animal breeding is recommended.
People who want to become animal breeders should be responsible, be able to communicate well, and like detailed work.
Nature of the Work
Animal breeders select and breed animals using their knowledge of genetics and animal science to produce offspring with desired traits and characteristics, such as chickens that lay more eggs, pigs that produce leaner meat, and sheep with more desirable wool. Some animal breeders also breed and raise cats, dogs, and other household pets. Larger and more-expensive animals, such as horses and cattle, are usually bred through artificial insemination, which requires the taking of semen from the male and then insemination of the female. This process ensures better results than conventional mating and also enables one prized male to sire many more offspring. To know which animals to breed and when, animal breeders keep detailed records, including the health of the animals, their size and weight, and the amount and quality of the product produced by them. They also keep track of the traits of the offspring. Some animal breeders work as consultants for a number of farmers, but others breed and raise their own animals for sale or future breeding. For those who raise animals, tasks might include fixing and cleaning animal shelters, feeding and watering the animals, and overseeing animals' health. Some breeders supervise others who perform these tasks. Animal breeders also read journals and newsletters to learn the latest information on breeding and veterinary practices.
Animal breeders spend most of their time outdoors around animals, but can also work in offices or laboratories. Breeders who consult might travel from farm to farm. If they need to sell offspring, breeders might travel to attend shows and meet potential buyers. While tending to the animals, breeders might be bitten or kicked.
On the Job
- Feed and water animals, and clean and disinfect pens, cages, yards, and hutches.
- Examine animals in order to detect symptoms of illness or injury.
- Place vaccines in drinking water, inject vaccines, or dust air with vaccine powder, in order to protect animals from diseases.
- Select animals to be bred, and semen specimens to be used, according to knowledge of animals, genealogies, traits, and desired offspring characteristics.
- Treat minor injuries and ailments, and contact veterinarians in order to obtain treatment for animals with serious illnesses or injuries.
- Observe animals in heat in order to detect approach of estrus, and exercise animals to induce or hasten estrus, if necessary.
- Record animal characteristics such as weights, growth patterns, and diets.
- Exhibit animals at shows.
- Build hutches, pens, and fenced yards.
- Clip or shear hair on animals.
- Attach rubber collecting sheaths to genitals of tethered bull, and stimulate animal's organ in order to induce ejaculation.
- Package and label semen to be used for artificial insemination, recording information such as the date, source, quality, and concentration.
- Prepare containers of semen for freezing and storage or shipment, placing them in dry ice or liquid nitrogen.
- Maintain logs of semen specimens used and animals bred.
- Arrange for sale of animals and eggs to hospitals, research centers, pet shops, and food processing plants.
- Measure specified amounts of semen into calibrated syringes, and insert syringes into inseminating guns.
- Inject prepared animal semen into female animals for breeding purposes, by inserting nozzle of syringe into vagina and depressing syringe plunger.
- Adjust controls in order to maintain specific building temperatures required for animals' health and safety.
- Examine semen microscopically in order to assess and record density and motility of gametes, and dilute semen with prescribed diluents according to formulas.
- Brand, tattoo, or tag animals in order to allow animal identification.
- Perform procedures such as animal dehorning or castration.
Companies That Hire Animal Breeders
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- BLS. (2009). Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), 2008-09 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://www.bls.gov/oco/
- O*Net Online. (2009). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://online.onetcenter.org/
- Goldenray Yorkies. (1998). Breeder Interview. Retrieved December 9, 2009, from http://www.goldenrayyorkies.com/TNTBreederInterview.html
- State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. (2007). Animal Breeders. Retrieved December 9, 2009, from http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/wfprep/coei/media/English_Video_List_UnCap.html