Agriculture represents one of the major backbones of countries across the world simply because the more locals can source for their needs locally, there would be an overall increase in the GDP of such nations with further international relevance owing to their ability to provide raw materials needed both locally and within the international community.
The activities within the agricultural sectors need a team of experts to devote time to analyzing, studying and ensuring the safety of animals or crops used in making agricultural products.
Animal scientists offer their skills learnt during internships and undergraduate training to improve the quality of livestock and their products in the agricultural sector.
Job Profile of an Animal Scientist
Animal scientists generally research the genetics, nutrition, reproduction, growth, and development of domestic animals used in agriculture.
Their interest lies in studying how one can improve and maintain the wellbeing of animals through feeding and regular check-up to prevent an outbreak of diseases within the farm animals thereby leading to a loss on the farmers part.
Animal Scientists are even relevant to us as human because we eat these animals and their products thus there is a need for an expert to always review their diet, interaction with the environment and their diseased state to ascertain the level of safety before humans have access to these products. In some instances, they work alongside another researcher to investigate disease mechanisms or interaction between humans and infected animals for a possible treatment method or cure. However to function efficiently one needs to have an area of expertise in areas such as;
- Genetics and Biodiversity
- Nutrition and Metabolism
- Animal health and behaviour
- Molecule, cell and organ functioning
- Animal Ecology
- Global and sustainable production
- Food safety
Depending on their area of expertise, they use data and samples used during research to make recommendations on animal healthcare and maintenance that can be implemented by business owners and agricultural organisations.
Animal scientists typically work in laboratories, although data collection sometimes might require they travel to remote areas depending on the area of interest and location of specimens to be studied.
Read also: Job Description for Agricultural Consultants
Job Description for Animal Scientists
- Data analysis and interpretation
- Routine inspection visits to farms
- Researching animal nutrition, breeding to improve products or processes.
- Advice agricultural organisations on improved methods and techniques that would improve their sales and product quality
- Study the nutritional requirements of animals and how animal feeds can be improved with supplements or fortification
- Study effects of management practices or environmental conditions on quality and quantity of animal products
- Develop and recommend improved practices in feeding, housing, sanitation, and parasite and disease control of animals.
- Research and control animal selection and breeding practices to improve animal quality.
- Determine the genetic composition of animal populations and heritability of traits using underlying principles of genetics.
- Crossbreed animals with existing strains or cross strain to obtain new breeds with better genetic combination
- Attending conferences and seminars to gain more insight into new techniques.
Skills Needed for Animal Scientists Position
An Animal Scientist should possess some of the listed skills to fit into the position;
- Presentation skills
- Problem-solving and analytical skills
- Critical thinking abilities
- Project management skills
- Time management skills
- Up-to-date knowledge of technicalities in the agricultural industry
- Knowledge Microsoft Office tools (Excel, Word etc.)
Typical Employers of Animal Scientists
Some of the areas you can work in as an animal scientist include:
- Ministry of Agriculture at the state or federal level
- Research organisations
- Agricultural based consulting firms
- Farming co-operatives
- International organisations(WHO), (UNICEF)
- As an academic
- Production companies in the agricultural sector
Qualification for Animal Scientists
To become an animal scientist, you would need to have an undergraduate degree in animal science or agricultural sciences, economics, agric engineering, agric economics with an option to specialize in your desired area at postgraduate level.
Taking a course in project management would be useful if you work in production companies and are looking to proceed into higher roles within the organisation. Furthermore, relevant years of work experience especially on the field or with research should be obtained while working within different organisations.