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Animal Scientist


Description

We use animals for eggs, ice cream, Jell-O, marshmallows, butter, meat and cheese. Animals are kept on large, industrial farms, as well as smaller, free-range farms, where they are born, raised and sometimes killed for our survival.

Animal scientists work with government agencies, agricultural boards, and private companies. They try and develop efficient ways of producing and processing animal products and by-products. They research the nutrition, breeding and health of all animals across the nayion.

Animal scientists often specialize in one area. Some focus on animal nutrition, looking for the best food combinations for animals, while others look at animal diseases and try to identify, cure or prevent them. Others try to control reproductive processes through embryo manipulation, artificial insemination and monitored breeding. As well, animal scientists ensure the babies born are healthy and strong. Others look at the impact the meat industry has had on the environment, and look for ways to slow the overuse of water, grain and energy.

Animals used for food are an integral part of modern life. A cattle disease that spread worldwide might result in international starvation. We need animal scientists, and no matter if they work in genetically engineered, chemically enhanced milk production or on an organic, all-natural farm, they are working towards a world where everyone has enough to eat.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Animal scientists need to be interested in not only animal science but also nutrition and biotechnology. They need a love of the outdoors, and enjoy helping others solve problems. They should have strong organizational skills, good communication (and listening) skills, and should be able to work alone as well as part of a team. Animal scientists need analytical thinking skills and creativity when working problem solving.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Respond to questions from individual farmers, farming associations, government agencies, and the general public about health of food, soil and environment
  • Provide farmers with appropriate news, information or developments
  • Visit farms and production sites for evaluations
  • Give individual assessments
  • Conduct information sessions, seminars and workshops with large numbers of farmers
  • Develop new nutritional supplements, breeding techniques and genetic make up of farm animals
  • Inspect and grade livestock, meat and dairy products
  • Demonstrate new products or services
  • Carry out applied and field research into environmental conditions, product effectiveness, and animal nutrition, breeding techniques, and animal health
  • Animal scientists all have very differing days, due to the broad spectrum of work done by these scientists. While some spend all day on a government test farm, looking at the possibilities of free-range egg production, others may be in the head office of a major hot dog distribution company, discussing genetically-enhanced pig feed. Their objectives are always the same, however--they are looking for the most cost-effective, environmentally sound way of achieving their clients' goals. They travel throughout the country assessing farm animals' health, breeding capabilities, and nutrition, as well as around the world to conferences and training sessions with international agriculturists.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Animal scientists work outside in fields and pastures, as well as inside research labs and board rooms, giving seminars and information sessions. They work for governments, farming associations, universities and colleges, and independently as advisors to individual ranchers and farmers. They work alone, as well as in a team of other scientists.
  • They may work long hours, especially if they must travel. They don't have to work weekends or evenings very often, unless they are making a presentation or are en route to their next project.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Animal scientists can specialize in many different areas, so there should always be opportunities for advancement and exploration of other areas of agricultural study. They can work for research companies, or start up a private business of their own, in agricultural counseling, or otherwise. They can write books and articles about agriculture, become environmental advocates or start up their own organic or free-range farm.
 

  Educational Paths  
Animal scientists need to have a background in agriculture. While it is helpful to have grown up in an agricultural community, it's not a requirement--a genuine interest in the science is enough.

Animal scientists obtain a bachelor's degree in agriculture and then specialize in animal science through experience or a master's degree. Other supporting subjects would be veterinary studies, biology, soil science and zoology.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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