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University of Rhode Island — Animal & Veterinary Science

The Field
What is Animal and Veterinary Science?

Animal and veterinary science is the study of the biology and management of animals. This includes the domestic animals we see in our backyard and on the neighborhood farm, as well as the more exotic, non-domesticated animals that we commonly find in zoos and aquariums.

General topics of study include:

  • management
  • nutrition
  • reproduction
  • behavior
  • health and welfare

This program offers numerous opportunities for students to get out of the classroom and work with animals, assist with research projects and/or conduct research of their own. With numerous laboratory and field-based professions, this growing discipline offers countless opportunities to work with animals and animal products using cutting-edge technologies.

Important Topics and Issues

Some of the important topics and issues in animal and veterinary science focus on the development of the best animal management and production practices. As the human population grows, available farmland decreases while the demand for food increases. To compound this problem, the search for biofuels to reduce oil consumption has put animals in direct competition with alternative energy needs since some of the biofuels being produced are created from common livestock feeds (i.e., corn).

In addition, as more intensive agricultural systems are created new animal health issues surface. In an effort to increase the efficiency of animal production (e.g., increased milk production in dairy cows, time to market in beef and swine, increased fertility, etc.) there can be detrimental effects on the animal that raise stress levels and can lead to increased susceptibility to disease. Today, a tremendous amount of scientific research is focused on reducing stress and improving the overall health of our production animals while quality products for human consumption are developed as efficiently as possible.