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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn more about Animal Breeding, planning animal breeding programs, genetic theory and more

  • Improve your knowledge of annual breeding and planning.
  • Learn about planning and implementing animal breeding programs using genetic theory.
  • Understand practical applications, including husbandry practice and the management of animal breeding programs.
  • Learn about cross-breeding and live stock improvement.

This course includes a sound introduction to genetics relevant to any type of animal. Personal guidance from highly qualified and experienced animal scientists and practitioners.

"The course is particularly useful to students who are or wish to be involved in agricultural livestock production"
Marius Erasmus - B.Sc. Agriculture, B. Science (Wildlife), M.Sc. Agriculture

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Learn to Breed Animals for a Purpose: As Pets - Farm Animals - Working Animals - Wildlife Conservation

  • The same principles apply to breeding any type of animal, and this course provides you with an excellent understanding of those principles, and a foundation to develop animal breeding skills and knowledge.
  • Topics covered include: introduction to genetics; selection; pure breeding; introduction to cross breeding; cross breeding and livestock improvement.


This is a 100 hour course comprising 7 lessons, as follows:

Lesson 1. Introduction to Genetics
  • Plant Cells
  • Animal Cells
  • Cell Division - mitosis (asexual reproduction); meiosis (sexual reproduction)
  • Genes - phenotype and genotype; homogenous and heterogenous
  • Terminology
  • The Work of Mendel
  • Sex Determination 
Lesson 2. Genetics
  • Gene Mutations
  • Lethal Genes
  • Effect of the Environment
  • Hybrid Vigour
  • Genetics in Agriculture
  • Heritability
Lesson 3. Selection
  • Animal Breeding Programs
  • Agriculture
  • Decide on Your Priorities
  • Dual Purpose Animals
  • Artificial Selection
  • Gene Groups
  • Regression
  • Domestic Animals - dogs, cats etc.
Lesson 4. Pure Breeding
  • Inbreeding - close breeding and line breeding
  • Genetic Effects of Inbreeding
  • Advantages and Disadvantages
Lesson 5. Introduction to Cross Breeding
  • The Effects of Cross Breeding in Farm Animals
  • Genetic Effects, Phenotype Effects, Heterosis, and Genotype Effect
  • Cross Breeding in Sheep
  • Cross breeding in Domestic Animals
Lesson 6. Cross Breeding
  • Practical Cross Breeding
  • Two Breed or Single Cross
  • Back Cross or Crisscrossing
  • Cyclical Crossing
  • Rotational Crossing
  • Advantages of Cross Breeding
  • Reciprocal Recurrent Selection
  • Breed Societies
  • Grading Up
Lesson 7. Livestock Improvement
  • Performance Testing
  • Sib Testing
  • Progeny testing
  • Relative Breeding Values (RBV)
  • Artificial Insemination
  • Synchronised Heats
  • Ova Transplants

Each lesson is completed with in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain genetic influence on the characteristics exhibited by animals.
  • Explain the factors that interact with genes to produce nonconformity in animals.
  • Develop procedures to select animals for a breeding program.
  • Develop an animal straight breeding program.
  • Develop an animal cross breeding program.
  • Explain the commercial methods used to breed animals.

Examples of what you may do in this course

  • Explain how genes control the inheritance of characteristics, using specific examples of animal breeding.
  • Distinguish between the phenotype and the genotype of animals.
  • Distinguish between dominant and recessive gene pairs.
  • Explain the differences in the function of chromosomes, of a specified bird when compared with a specified mammal.
  • Describe linkage of gender with the expression of non-sex character traits.
  • Explain positive and negative aspects of mutation in animal breeding.
  • Explain the role of the environment in factors that determine genetics of an animal.
  • Explain the relevance of hybrid vigour to breeding different animals.
  • Explain heritability in different classes of domestic animals.
  • Develop a set of aims for a breeding program, for a chosen animal.
  • Develop a checklist of criteria for selecting animals in a breeding program.
  • Explain natural selection, by giving an example in an animal breeding program.
  • Explain aims and methods for artificial selection in animal breeding programs.
  • Explain genetic regression giving an example of its possible occurrence.
  • Design a checklist of factors to consider when purchasing breeding stock for a specified  situation.
  • Explain how an animal breeder selects animals from which to breed, for a commercial breeding program.
  • Distinguish between different types of straight breeding, including: close breeding  and  line breeding.
  • Explain how a specified pure breed (i.e. straight breed) is maintained.
  • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of line breeding in a breeding program for a specified type of farm animal.
  • Explain where it would be appropriate to use line breeding methods in animal breeding programs.
  • Explain where it would be appropriate to use close breeding methods in animal breeding programs.
  • Write a procedure for straight breeding of a specified type of animal.
  • Differentiate between different types of cross breeding, including: *terminal cross *two breed cross *back cross *three breed cross *rotational cross.
  • Explain the concept of 'grading up', as it relates to commercial animal husbandry.
  • Evaluate 'crossbreeding' in an animal breeding program.
  • Determine a commercial situation, in which crossbreeding may be justified.
  • Explain the services provided by a specified Breed Society in cross breeding, on a specified farm.
  • Write a procedure for cross breeding of a specified type of animal.
  • Define breeding terminology.
  • Describe the breeding programs which use artificial insemination, synchronised heats and ova transplants.
  • Explain the importance of synchronised heats to breeding animals.
  • Describe two different testing methods, observed by the learner that are used for animal breeding programs,
  • Evaluate the relevance of breeding methods, that are used on a specified property, to the stated aims of the property owner.
  • Describe the husbandry procedures which may be carried out during the pregnancy of a specified animal.
  • Describe husbandry practices which may be carried out during the birth of a specified type of domesticated animal, including: *routine husbandry procedures *emergency husbandry procedures
  • Plan the management of a breeding program to maximise male breeding performance. 
  • Perform and record the birth of a specified animal.

Systems of Breeding

There are many different systems of breeding. The main difference between them is the degree of genetic difference between the parents. The extremes are cross-breeding where the parents are totally unrelated to each other and inbreeding where the parents are closely related to each other.

  • Pure breeding is when two animals belonging to the same breed are mated.
  • Pedigree breeding is when two animals belonging to the same breed and registered with the relevant Breed Society are mated.

Two of the techniques used in pure breeding are Inbreeding and Line Breeding. These will be discussed in more detail below.


Inbreeding is the mating of animals of the same breed that are more closely related than the average of the breed. Over the years, an element of fear has developed over the dangers of inbreeding. The marriage laws for people are designed to prevent marriage of extremely close relations.

Inbreeding does have its uses and it plays a large part in the establishment of some degree of uniformity in the breeds of livestock which are on farms today.

Inbreeding can be divided into two types:

  • Close breeding - the mating of father to daughter, mother to son or brother to sister. (Brothers and sisters have, on average, half their genes in common. Fathers and daughters or mothers and sons must have half the genes in common).
  • Line breeding mating half brother to half sister, half cousins, grandfather to grand daughter, cousin to cousin, or grandson to grand daughter.

Line Breeding

Line breeding is a less intensive form of inbreeding than close breeding. The object of line breeding is to keep the offspring related to an outstanding animal, usually male, which had desired characteristics. It aims to avoid some of the dangers attendant with close breeding. 

With livestock, for instance, line breeding is useful when an outstanding sire has been found and proved by progeny testing. The sire may be used for a second or third time along the line if it is still living and belongs to the farmer. It is probably of most value when this sire is dead or when it does not belong to the farmer any more as the farmer still has the genes of the outstanding sire within the herd.

ACS Student comment

"Yes [the course is a valuable learning experience], I am loving it, it relates to all the things I am presently doing with our dogs and sheep and I am finding it extremely useful and have learnt a lot. Love getting my assignments back to see how I went always an exciting moment and then shared around the dinner table that night!!"
Zoe Crouch - Animal Breeding Course.

Why Take this Course?

  • To learn about animal breeding and understand the principles involved
  • To further your career in livestock breeding
  • To understand the factors which determine genetics of an animal.

You can enrol on the course today, but if you have any questions or want to know more, please get in touch using our Free Course Counselling Service.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (general)P.G.Cert. Ed., M.Ecotourism, S.Sc. (Hons). Alison has held many positions including: University Lecturer, Writer, Quality Assurance Manager, Research Technician, Vet Nurse and stockwoman. Over 30 years industry experience, mostly in Australia and the UK.. Alison originally graduated with an honors degree in science from university and beyond that has completed post graduate qualifications in education and eco-tourism. She has managed veterinary operating theatre, responsible for animal anaesthesia, instrument preparation, and assistance with surgical techniques and procedures.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Cheryl McLardyA scientist, teacher, writer and animal scientist, with more than 20 years experience including: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has travelled widely, working in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand; and is now based in Scotland. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Higher National Diploma in Horse Management, and a City and Guilds Teaching Certificate.
Marius Erasmus Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.

Check out our eBooks

Horse CareThis book is an accumulation of information from biology, agricultural science and veterinary medicine. It looks to explore and explain the fundamentals of appropriate horse care aims and techniques. In doing so it will consider horsemanship as a combination of art and science.
Animal HealthUnderstand animal health issues, diseases and how identify and manage illnesses and injuries. Animals can become sick for many different reasons -diseases caused by infections, injuries, poisoning, genetic disorders, poor nutrition and other things.
Farm ManagementThe Farm Management ebook is a valuable piece of equipment for any farming student or current farmer. Improve your farm management skills or learn new skills and techniques. The topics covered within this Farm Management ebook include 1/ Scope and nature of the farm industry, 2/ The farm site, 3/ Production systems, 4/ Managing livestock, 5/ Managing pasture, 6/ Managing crops, 7/ Managing equipment and materials, 8/ Computer applications, 9/ Farm structures and buildings, 10/ Financial management, 11/ Marketing, 12/ Farm planning, 13/ Staff management, 14/ Water management and 15/ Diversification.
Caring for DogsA book for both students and dog owners. This book has been designed to complement our dog care and pet care courses; but also to provide a sound foundation for choosing the right breed, and caring for a dog whether as a pet, or a working animal. Contents cover Breeds, Creating a healthy home for dogs, legal issues, dog biology, recognising poor health, parasites, illnesses, nutrition, reproduction, dog psychology, behavioural development, training tips, behaviour problems, grooming, working in the dog industry, and more.