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Animal Biology (Animal Husbandry I)

Course CodeBAG101
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

A Foundation Course in Animal Anatomy and Physiology

Useful for learning more about animals in your care, or for working with them in both domestic and commercial capacities, this Animal Anatomy and Physiology will give you a solid foundation in animal biology. In this course, you'll study vital systems and their health, anatomy, growth factors, and more. 

Excellent for people working with animals, including farmers, zoo and wildlife staff, pet shop proprietor or pet owner, vet assistants, wildlife rehabilitators, and more. 

By studying this course you will learn about the various physical components of animals including:

  • cells and tissues
  • the digestive system
  • the circulatory system
  • the urinary system
  • the nervous system
  • respiration and reproduction
  • muscular and skeletal systems
  • growth and development
  • species differences
What our students have to say about our courses:    "I think it is absolutely brilliant. I have never come across such a friendly, helpful staff and am so enjoying my course. I will definitely recommend ACS to anybody who wants to studyTanya Sadler, United Arab Emirates - Animal Husbandry course.

Lesson Structure

There are 11 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction, cells & tissues
    • Crops and livestock inter-relationship
    • Animal Cell - cell membrane, nucleus, cytoplasm, Golgi apparatus etc.
    • Animal Tissues - epithelial, connective, muscle, and nervous tissues
    • Cellular properties - Osmosis, filtration, hydrostatic pressure etc.
    • Cellular nutrient and waste exchange
  2. The Digestive System
    • Components of the Digestive System
    • Simple stomach structure and function - digestion, absorption, utilization
    • The small intestine structure and function
    • The large intestine structure and function
    • The Ruminant stomach - rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum
    • Digestion, absorption and utilization in the ruminant stomach
    • Poultry Digestion - crop, proventriculus, gizzard
    • Accessory glands of the digestive system - salivary glands, pancreas, liver
    • Hormones and enzymes
    • Microbial breakdown
    • End-products of digestion
  3. The Circulatory System
    • Circulatory networks
    • Pulmonary circulation
    • Systemic circulation
    • Hepatic portal system
    • Lymphatic system
    • The composition of blood - plasma, R.B.C's, Platelets, W.B.C's
    • Functions of Blood - clotting mechanisms, immunity etc
    • The blood vessels - arteries, veins, venules, arterioles, and capillaries
    • The Heart
    • Physiology of the circulatory system
  4. The Urinary System
    • The anatomy of the urinary system - kidneys, ureters, and bladder
    • The physiology of the urinary system - Nephrons, Bowman's capsule, Loop of Henle, convoluted tubules etc
    • Excretion and osmoregulation
  5. The Nervous System
    • Central nervous system (CNS)
    • Peripheral nervous system
    • Neurons - sensory and motor
    • The brain - medulla oblongata, hypothalamus, olfactory bulb, cerebrum, thalamus etc.
    • The spinal cord
    • The cranial and spinal nerves
    • The autonomic nervous system
    • The endocrine system
    • Sensory organs - ears, nose, eye and common integument (skin)
  6. Respiration
    • The anatomy of respiration
    • The trachea
    • The bronchial tree
    • Lungs
    • The physiology of respiration
    • Gaseous exchange
    • Breathing
  7. The Reproductive System
    • Anatomy of male reproduction - testes, accessory organs, and the penis
    • The physiology of male reproduction
    • Hormone and sperm production
    • Erection and ejaculation
    • Fertility problems in the male
    • Venereal disease, injury, physical and emotional immaturity, nutrition etc
    • Anatomy of female reproduction - ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, vagina, and the vulva
    • The physiology of female reproduction
    • The oestrus cycle
    • Ovulation
    • Female fertility problems
    • Pregnancy and parturition
    • Structure of the mammary glands
    • Milk secretion
  8. Muscles & Meat
    • The muscular system
    • Types of muscle - smooth, striated and cardiac
    • The structure of meat
    • Meat quality
  9. The Skeleton
    • The anatomy of bones
    • How bones are formed
    • Fractures and fracture healing
    • Types of bones
    • Bone joints - movable and immovable
    • Dentition
    • The dental formula - cattle, sheep, and pigs
  10. Animal Growth, Development, and the Endocrine System
    • Growth curves
    • Pre-natal growth - ovum, embryo, and foetus
    • Post-natal growth
    • Factors that affect the growth of new-borns
    • Factors that affect post natal growth
    • Compensatory growth
    • The endocrine system - pituitary body, thyroid, parathyroids, pancreas, and adrenals
  11. Comparing Different Animals
    • Poultry digestion
    • Important differences between mammals and bird skeletons
    • Incubating eggs - natural and artificial
    • Set task - comparing a range of other selected animals

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • The physical components of mammals and other animals, including cells and tissues.
  • The digestive system of more than one type of animal, in terms of both structure and function.
  • The circulatory system of animals, in terms of both structure and function.
  • The urinary system of animals, in terms of both structure and function.
  • The nervous system of animals, in terms of both structure and function.
  • The respiratory system of animals, in terms of both structure and function.
  • The reproductive system of animals, including structure and function.
  • The muscular system in animals, including the structure and function of muscles, and meat quality.
  • The skeletal system of a typical mammal, in terms of both structure and function.
  • The biological mechanisms underlying the growth and development of animals and explain the endocrine system of animals, in terms of both structure and function.
  • The differences between different types of animals, in terms of both structure and function.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between the major animal types used in primary production.
  • List different types of products commercially produced or derived from various farm or wild animals.
  • Explain the role of pastures in animal husbandry in your locality.
  • Report on the scope of animal production in your locality.
  • Identify parts of an animal cell on a diagram
  • Describe the major features of a living animal cell, including structure and function.
  • Provide an example of how cells interact in live animals.
  • Explain cell function for different types of cells in animals.
  • Differentiate between the composition of three different types of animal tissues.
  • Explain functions of different animal tissue types.
  • Describe the processes of nutrient and waste exchange in animal cells.
  • Label diagrams of the digestive system of these three different animals.
  • Describe the processes occurring in digestion, in each section of the digestive system.
  • Compare the digestive systems of different animals.
  • Describe the action of enzymes and micro-organisms in the digestion of an animal.
  • Explain the role of accessory organs, including the liver and the pancreas.
  • Outline differences in the care of animals observed.
  • Explain the components of blood in animals studied
  • Explain the biological functions of blood in animals studied
  • Label the parts of the circulatory system in an mammal
  • Explain the structure of an artery.
  • Distinguish between the characteristics of the various types of blood vessels found in mammals.
  • Explain the role of the lymphatic system in a studied animal.
  • Label a urinary system diagram and explain the role of the urinary system in animals.
  • Describe the operation of the various parts of the urinary system.
  • Describe different components of the nervous systems of animals.
  • Distinguish between the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.
  • Explain the function of the autonomic nervous system in an animal.
  • Describe the structure of the sensory organs, including the ear, eye and nose.
  • Explain the function of the sensory organs
  • Describe components of the respiratory system of animals.
  • Explain the purpose of the respiratory system in animals.
  • Explain how the respiratory system functions in animals.
  • Describe the process of gaseous exchange between the alveolus and capillaries.
  • Explain how the rate of breathing is controlled in animals.
  • Label the unlabelled diagrams of the male and female reproductive systems.
  • Describe the function of each of the components of the male reproductive system.
  • Explain the various physiological processes in the male reproductive system.
  • Explain different fertility problems in a male animal including.
  • Describe the function of components of the female reproductive system.
  • Explain the various physiological processes in the female reproductive system.
  • Explain various fertility problems in a female animal.
  • Explain two different 'difficult birth' conditions encountered in animals.
  • Distinguish between different muscle types including smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and striated muscle.
  • Compare how the three types of muscle function.
  • Describe the components of the musculatory system of an animal.
  • Define meat quality in relation to muscle development.
  • Identify the cuts and joints of meat derived from sheep, cattle, and pigs.
  • List the different cuts of meat you observed and describe the appearance of that meat.
  • Explain the role of the skeletal system in an animal.
  • Describe the anatomy of a typical long bone.
  • Explain how bone is formed in an animal.
  • Draw and label the following different skeletal parts on a series of diagrams
  • Explain the operation of a freely moving joint in a skeleton.
  • Differentiate between different types of bone fractures in animals including simple breaks and compound fractures and explain the different fractures and how they look.
  • Describe the healing process for the different types of fractures.
  • Explain the processes of growth and development at a cellular level.
  • Describe pre-natal and post-natal growth processes in 2 different animals.
  • List factors which influence the size of newborn animals.
  • List factors which influence growth after birth.
  • List the components of the endocrine system in an animal.
  • Distinguish between different endocrine glands, for a specified animal, by location, appearance, and function.
  • Describe five hormones found in animals.
  • Explain the role of the endocrine system in animals.
  • Prepare a table/chart which shows characteristics that distinguish some mammals from poultry, from fish, and from crustaceans in each of the main systems.
  • Compare the differences between structural and physiological characteristics of two different animals from the same taxonomic class, but of different genera.


The circulatory system consists of a network of vessels that circulate blood around the body. Included in the system is the heart which acts as a pump. The vessels that carry blood away from the heart are called arteries and those that carry blood back to the heart are called veins. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and vital organs and also carries carbon dioxide and waste products away. The circulatory system also includes the lymphatic system and the spleen. We will now look more closely at the importance of blood to the body.



Blood is a connective tissue consisting of cells that moves around the body in a fluid called plasma. The following components of blood can be identified :


This is a straw coloured fluid containing 90% water and 10% solids. The solids are:

  • Proteins: Serum albumin, Fibrinogen (concerned with blood clotting)
  • Globulin (deals with disease immunity)
  • Hormones
  • Lipids or fats
  • Cholesterol
  • Enzymes

Inorganic chemicals: these are the ions of salts and acids, some of which are essential in cell metabolism and others which act as buffers, reducing strong acids and alkalies to weaker acids/alkalies and neutral salts. Nitrogenous compounds: amino acids, urea, uric acid and ammonium salts.

Red Blood Cells

The red blood cells are called erythrocytes, and there are five million in a single millilitre of blood. They are dish-shaped discs (concave on either side) which specialize in transporting oxygen. Oxygen is bound to hemoglobin so it can be carried in the blood. Hemoglobin also gives blood its characteristic red colour.

Red blood cells are produced in the marrow of bones and they have a life span of three to four months. After that they disintegrate and the pigments produced by their destruction are excreted in bile.

Blood Platelets

These are small irregular shaped fragments of protoplasm which are formed in the marrow of bones and which play an important role in the clotting of blood and the prevention of blood-loss from a wound. They do this by sticking to each other and to the walls of blood vessels at the place of an injury. Platelets also release a substance called serotonin, which causes the blood vessels in the area to constrict in order to produce a drop in blood pressure.

White Blood Cells

These are called leukocytes and there are between 4000 and 11000 per ml of blood. There are various types of leucocytes of different shapes and sizes. They play an extremely important part in the defense mechanism of the body. They can form barriers against disease and can also engulf harmful material such as bacteria. They play a role in the formation of antibodies and in the immunity mechanism of the body. They are formed in the bone marrow and in the lymph tissues, the spleen, the tonsils and lymph nodes.


The main functions of the blood are as follows:

  • transport nutrients from the digestive tract to the body tissues and organs
  • transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and to carry carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs
  • carry waste products from the tissues to the kidneys

Understanding to Care for Animals Starts Here

Before you can properly start learning to care for livestock, pets or wildlife, you first need to know the different parts of an animals body, and how each of those parts functions. Animals are complicated organisms, made up of different systems (listed above); each with a different function. Those systems interact with each other in all sorts of ways, and complicated biochemical processes are constantly happening throughout the body, changing it's physical composition and affecting it's actions.

In short, animals are complicated -and this course gives you a framework for understanding those complexities.

It teaches you fundamental things that everyone who works with, or studies animals, needs to know and understand.


Meet some of our academics

Dr Robert BrowneZoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability. Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and development, husbandry, thermo-biology, reproduction technologies, and facility design.Robert has B.Sc., Ph, D.
Dr. Gareth PearceVeterinary scientist and surgeon with expertise in agriculture and environmental science, with over 25 years of experience in teaching and research in agriculture, veterinary medicine, wildlife ecology and conservation in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Post-graduate qualifications in Education, Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Aquatic Veterinary Studies and Wildlife Biology & Conservation. Gareth has a B.Sc.(Hons), B.V.Sc., M.A., M.Vet.S,. PhD, Grad. Cert. Ed.(HE), Post-Grad.Cert. Aq.Vet.Sc., Post-Grad. Cert. WLBio&Cons., Dipl. ECPHM, MRCVS.
Peter Douglas Over 50 years experience in Agriculture and wildlife management. Former university lecturer, Wildlife park manager, Animal breeder, Equestrian. Peter has both wide ranging experience in animal science, farming and tourism management, and continues to apply that knowledge both through his work with ACS, and beyond.

Check out our eBooks

Animal PsychologyComparative Animal Psychology. This is an excellent reference for anyone interested in understanding animals better; students, animal owners and anyone who works with animals.
Horse CareIf you're starting a career in the equine industry, this text is perfect to accompany your study notes! If you're a new horse owner keen to develop or solidify your knowledge of horse care techniques, this book will guide you through basic anatomy and physiology; feed and nutrition;, health management and shoeing; handling techniques and the use of equipment. Learn about caring for horses kept at grass or effectively care for the stabled horse. With ten chapters full of expert advice which is easy to read and follow you can be a confident horse owner! 111 pages
PoultryPoultry are entertaining as pets and life sustaining as a commercial product! Whether you are seeking a book as a beginner poultry keeper or if you are embarking on a new career in poultry production or management, this book is for you. Easy to read, easy to understand and packed with easy to implement practical advice. Know how to care for the health and wellbeing of poultry and make production a commercially viable enterprise.
Animal HealthA book for anyone interested in animal health, from pet owners to farmers. Contents cover understanding health issues, disease and injury prevention, inspecting animals, differential diagnosis and common illnesses. Animals can suffer from injury, poisoning, hereditary conditions, nutritional problems and viral, bacterial and fungal infections. 77 pages.