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Sep 19th 2017

Animal Breeding and Genetics (edX)

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Understand the genetic and statistic principles that enable responsible animal breeding. Animal breeding involves the selective breeding of domestic animals with the intention to improve desirable (and heritable) qualities in the next generation. This course introduces the steps required to design a program for breeding animals and teaches the genetic and statistical concepts that are needed to build a solid breeding program.

In this course, you will learn how an animal breeder balances the need for improving the desirable qualities of the animals with the need for genetic diversity and long-term sustainability of the breeding program. You will learn about the scientific concepts in genetics that are applied in animal breeding, as well as how to apply the models and computational methods that are used in animal breeding.




Professionals working with animals will be able to use the knowledge from this course to understand the impact of breeding on animal populations and use genetic principles to make their decisions. This course will allow you an advanced starting point for further studies, such as M.Sc. level courses in breeding.

Knowledge of statistics at a 2nd or 3rd year university level is needed to follow this course successfully.


What you'll learn

- The steps required in setting up a breeding program.

- Understanding of the main concepts in animal breeding.

- Applying genetic models and tools to predict the breeding value of animals.

- Tools to predict genetic change and/or inbreeding in populations.

- Introduction to dissemination of genetic progress in different animals.


Course Syllabus


Week 1: Introduction to Animal Breeding

Introduction to the seven steps that are needed to set up a breeding program.


Week 2: The breeding goal

Learning the characteristics of a breeding goal and how to define a breeding goal for genetic improvement and for genetic diversity.


Week 3: Collection of information and family relationships

Learning the value of information on relationships, performance, and DNA information, including the concept and consequences of inbreeding. Learning methods to quantify relationships and inbreeding.


Week 4: Genetic models

Learning the concept of genetic models and to apply suitable genetic models for different traits. Learning the genetic concepts of heritability, repeatability, common environment ratio and mendelian sampling.


Week 5: Ranking the animals

Learning to estimate the breeding value of animals, using single or multiple sources of information, including DNA information. Learning to calculate the accuracy of estimated breeding values.


Week 6: Response to selection

Learning to calculate the response to selection and knowing its key elements and consequences of trade-offs between them. To understand mating schemes and long term contributions to inbreeding.


Week 7: Animal breeding in practice.

Introduction to dissemination strategies and a range of applications of the topics in this course in the breeding of different animal species.


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