Massey University offers new animal science degree


PhD students Jay Ekanayake and Emmanuelle-Haslin in the field at Massey. 


The first New Zealand animal science degree is now open to students to study at Massey University in 2020.

The Bachelor of Animal Science is the only full-degree in New Zealand that focuses entirely on animal science, with majors in: Animal Welfare, Animal Breeding and Genetics, Animal Nutrition and Growth and in Equine Science.

Students entering the degree will study production, companion and recreational animals, looking at their management, health, welfare and biosecurity as a means of maximising their productivity and wellbeing, specific to their needs.

College of Sciences Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Ray Geor says animal science degrees are in demand around the world.

“Graduates with specialist knowledge of animal science are important to a sustainable, healthy future for New Zealand in the animal-based industries. Our new degree draws on Massey’s world-leading animal and agricultural science hub, which includes internationally-recognised experts and internationally recognised research centres in areas such as animal welfare, genetics and nutrition.”

The Bachelor of Animal Science, like the Bachelor of Horticultural Science introduced this year, ensures Massey continues to produce graduates with the skills required to make significant contributions to the agrifood sector.”

New Zealand’s animal industries are supporting the degree, including those in the grass-fed production animal sector. Agfirst agribusiness manager, Hilton Collier says for Aotearoa to move from a volume to value-based farming system requires fresh thinking about how we meet the needs of our customers.

“Higher value products will be derived from rewarding the buyers of our products with exceptional experiences. Juicy, marbled wagyu beef, easily digested milk products are early indicators of this trend.

“Graduates with an understanding of animal science will find their skills and knowledge in demand as existing farming businesses transition away from old models to take us into a future where the industry delivers what consumers are looking for. This will include improving farming practices to ensure they look after the land, animals and people. This program delivers a range of the disciplines including genetics, animal welfare and nutrition that will help our products to be produced in acceptable ways so retailers may deliver what consumers want consistently.”

PhD student Kylie Legg and international student Ciska Schuurmans.


The best place to study

Graduates can be expected to take up roles in animal breeding, animal management, animal nutrition and health, agricultural biotechnology, biosecurity and customs, policy and regulation and disease control.

Bachelor of Science in Animal Science graduate, and now sheep genetics manager at a 13,000- hectare station Mount Linton, Martha Broughton says she probably would’ve been one of the first signed up to the new degree.

“While I was studying, I’d look up what the leading academics in animal science were saying, and noticed the authors were my current lecturers. It’s pretty cool to have lecturers who are at the top of their fields. While I didn’t get to study this new degree, I got to learn from the best and use the amazing facilities, so I’m not too jealous, but I think it’s awesome that they are continuing to step up their game for future students.”

The degree prepares students for management and technical roles across the production animal, equine and companion animal science industries. 

Massey PhD student Chris Andrews with a kitten.


What's on offer

Some of the topics taught in animal science, include: animal health, behaviour and welfare; animal metabolism; animal nutrition; animal production: dairy, sheep, beef cattle, deer, equine, intensive livestock; animal reproduction and lactation; companion animal science; genetics for livestock improvement; metabolic biochemistry and efficiency of growth and meat science.

Students will able to draw upon Massey’s dairy cattle, sheep and beef farms and equine facilities; and New Zealand’s only veterinary science teaching facilities and research centres, such as the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre.

Bachelor of Science graduate Holly Phillips, who is currently working on her Masters’ project has been looking at meat quality of lambs finished on different forages with Massey’s Dr Nicola Schreurs over the past few months. 

“I ended up majoring in agricultural and animal sciences, but I originally hadn’t considered those options as they weren’t suggested at school. I wanted to study vet at Massey because I have always loved animals. Then, I found animal science and it suited my interests perfectly. If there had been a degree like the Bachelor of Animal Science offered, I would’ve pursued that as it was really what I was after. I ended up in the same spot, but I’d love for others to know that there are those opportunities out there.”

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