Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
VT 121
Course Title:
Basic Animal Science
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces the livestock industry and the various species of large animal livestock. Includes livestock terminology, breeds, production systems, basic management practices, and animal products and by-products. Lab introduces the livestock production systems and producers.

Intended Outcomes for the course

In this course the student will begin to develop the skills necessary to function safely as a veterinary technician around the various types of livestock species.

This is designed for first year veterinary technology students and is a graduation requirement for the Associates Degree in Applied Sciences in Veterinary Technology. Credits in this course are not transferable to a four-year school towards a baccalaureate degree.

The required text for this course is Modern Livestock and Poultry Production by Gillespie.

Course Activities and Design

This course is designed to be a lecture and laboratory course. It is a four-credit-hour course that meets for three-lecture hours per week and three-lab hours per week.

Topics covered will be classification of livestock, digestive systems and basic nutrition, beef cattle, llamas and alpacas, sheep, swine, dairy cattle, goats, horses, rabbits, poultry, genetics and reproduction, and animal rights.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Grades will be based on the student €™s understanding of the course content as demonstrated by periodic lecture examinations, laboratory exercises, a comprehensive final exam, and by attendance. Also in order to receive a passing grade, the student must have attended a minimum of 80 percent of each of the lecture and laboratory classes.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • Upon successful completion of the course, the short term outcome will be that the student will have satisfactorily accomplished the goals and objectives of this course content guide and confirmed as provided in the assessment above. The desired long-term outcome is for the student to gain sufficient skills and knowledge of animal science to successfully pass the National Veterinary Technician Board Examination and effectively utilize the knowledge gained in their Cooperative Education Experience and as a practicing veterinary technician upon graduation. The course content guides are developed by college-wide subject area faculty and approved by the administration.

    Laboratory tasks with an asterisk indicate tasks the student must be able to perform since they are considered to be €œessential tasks,€ and tasks marked with two asterisks indicate tasks considered to be €œrecommended tasks€ by the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Tasks with no asterisks are considered neither €œessential€ nor €œrecommended€, but are taught based on instructor, SACC, and/or advisory committee recommendations. This course content guide specifies which tasks students are required to perform (as indicated in the task description) and the tasks on which they have been educated and have observed but individual performance is not required.



The student will understand the four basic methods of livestock classification and learn the vocabulary associated with each type to permit better communication with clients.  


1.1 Describe the zoological method and the differences between mammals and birds.
1.2 Describe the type and breed method.
1.3 Describe the breed purity method and discuss purebred, crossbred and grading up.
1.4 Describe the market method based on age, sex, weight and grade and understand the various terms for each classification. Discuss dressed weight.  



The student will learn the zoological classification of digestion and the biological classification. Emphasis will be on the latter with students learning basic anatomy of the ruminant and monogastric digestive systems and how each body organ functions in the digestive process. The student will learn about the six basic nutrients involved in animal feeding and learn in what forms these are offered to animals.  


2.1 Discuss differences between carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores.  
2.2 Discuss and illustrate the parts of a ruminant digestive system and how it differs in the newborn.  
2.3 Discuss basic rumen breakdown of feeds, why and how bloat occurs and common treatment objectives.  
2.4 Discuss and illustrate the parts of a monogastric digestive system and how each part contributes to digestion.  
2.5 Discuss various nutrition terms used on the farm €“ concentrates, roughage, feed efficiency, free choice, guaranteed analysis, dry matter, etc. 
2.6 Discuss common feed additives and their place in animal feeds.  
2.7 Define and describe the six basic nutrients, their sources, functions and deficiency symptoms or diseases.  



The student will be able to identify at least 11 major breeds and know the common body parts of beef cattle. The student will also be taught some common beef statistics, traits and consumer trends. Embryo transfer will be discussed as a means of improving a breed. Also discussed will be the three beef cattle production systems.  


3.1 Discuss the origin of beef cattle and the differences between European, American, and Exotic breeds.  
3.2 Students will be expected to identify and describe three characteristics such as temperament, fertility, carcass quality, popularity and origin of at least eleven common breeds of beef cattle.  
3.3 Discuss average beef statistics such as birth weight, productive life, gestation, estrous cycle, body temperature and age.  
3.4 Describe management systems €“ fall vs. spring calving, different breeding methods, production goals and taking pelvic measurements. 
3.5 Describe three production systems: cow/calf; stocker system; and feedlot system.  
3.6 Discuss pros and cons of purebred vs. commercial beef operations and goals of each.  
3.7 Discuss the following beef cattle traits: conformation, carcass traits, EPD€™s and milk production.  
3.8 Discuss and illustrate how embryo transfers can help improve a breed.  
3.9 Discuss consumer trends and how they influence changes in a breed and its production.
3.10 Discuss and show visual aids depicting various calving presentations and associated problems.
3.11 Discuss routine health care issues and herd health programs, i.e. deworming, vaccination, etc.  



The goal is to understand the origins of these animals, when they arrived in this country and to learn of their productive value, including breeding operations, fiber production, pet industry and meat. We will also teach general behavior, statistics and basic terminology used in this industry. Students will learn how to properly feed this species and will learn about reproduction.  


4.1 Describe the camelid family and emphasis on the South American camelids (SAC), the llama, Alpaca, Guanaco, and Vicuna.  
4.2 Discuss the llama€™s behavior, different sounds they make, berserk llama syndrome and how llamas are raised.  
4.3 Discuss common restraint methods especially for veterinary procedures.  
4.4 Discuss vital statistics, size, breeds, and various SAC terminology.  
4.5 Discuss different breeding methods and how pregnancy is determined. Students will view a slide series on the birth of an alpaca, which includes the three stages of delivery; newborn cria care, common vaccinations and signs of prematurity.  
4.6 Discuss the production uses of fiber and how it is marketed, breeding operation and value of offspring, pets, packing, and meat production.  
4.7 Discuss nutritional requirements and how to feed a SAC for work, maintenance, or pregnancy.  
4.8 List and describe via slides some common health care routines i.e. vaccinations, fighting teeth removal, trimming feet, etc.  

5.0 SHEEP  


The goal is to be able to identify the major sheep breeds, to know basic sheep anatomy, to understand how sheep are bred and for what productive service sheep provide.  


5.1 Explain the distribution of sheep population throughout the world, and particularly where the USA ranks.  
5.2 Discuss current marketing and consumer trends in the sheep industry.  
5.3 Students must identify seven major sheep breeds, learn three characteristics of each breed, and be able to identify sheep anatomy.  
5.4 Discuss and describe behavior, sheep restraint methods, and various terminology associated with the sheep and wool industry.  
5.5 Describe sheep vital statistics.  
5.6 Describe the characteristics of wool, its quality and wool processing and grading.  
5.7 Discuss the sheep€™s reproductive cycle, gestation, and breeding systems.  
5.8 Describe the difference between fine wool breeds, crossbred wool breeds, long wool breeds, and meat breeds.  
5.9 Discuss the four basic sheep production systems as follows: Purebred System, Milkfed Lamb Production, Feeder Lamb Production and Fattening Feeder Lambs System.  
5.10 Describe one year in the life of a sheep producer, emphasizing herd health requirements, feeding, shearing, lambing and lamb care.
5.11 Discuss and describe the different methods of pregnancy diagnosis in ewes.
5.12 List and discuss common sheep problems and diseases.  

6.0 SWINE  


The student should be able to identify the major breeds of swine, be familiar with its anatomy, behavior, reproduction, feeding, and common diseases. They should also be familiar with basic swine terminology, health care, and production.  

6.1 Discuss swine population and production in the world and USA .  
6.2 Students must learn major swine anatomy, at least six swine breeds and characteristics of each.
6.3 Describe swine behavior, hog loading, sow hysteria, etc.
6.4 Learn vital statistics and terminology related to swine.
6.5 Describe swine reproduction, including, estrous cycles, how swine are bred, hard mating, A-I, teasing posture and pen breeding.
6.6 Discuss purebred vs. crossbred systems and how the 2 breed, 3 breed, and 4 breed systems are used.
6.7 Describe two types of production systems - purebred production vs. commercial production.
6.8 Discuss market predictability.
6.9 Learn about composition of swine feeds and how to feed a pig.
6.10 Discuss major swine diseases, newborn pig care and common vaccinations.


The goal is for the student to identify the major breeds of dairy cattle, to understand how milk is produced and processed from cow to store, to understand basic diseases, reproduction and feeding practices of dairy cattle.
7.1 Explain dairy industry trends and cow population in USA .
7.2 Students are taught basic dairy cow anatomy. They must identify five common breeds and describe at least three characteristics of each breed.
7.3 Discuss general behavior, restraint, and safety issues when working with cattle.
7.4 Discuss vital statistics and dairy terminology, including calving interval, DHIA test sheets and how to select or judge a dairy cow.
7.5 Discuss reproduction, A€”I Service vs. Natural Service, how to recognize a cow in estrus, and the goals of a dairy herd health service.
7.6 Describe the three stages of parturition and newborn calf care.
7.7 Discuss production uses of dairy cows, i.e. meat, milk, breeding.
7.8 Discuss milk composition, colostrum composition, bulk tank sampling, various milk quality tests, SCC, CMT, and WMT.
7.9 Describe milk marketing and the differences between Grade A and Grade B milk. Discuss the three classes of milk and their uses for the consumer.
7.10 Students will learn about milk processing, pasteurizing, how cheese is made, and about homogenization.
7.11 Discuss a list of influences the farmer faces concerning milk production.
7.12 Describe how calves are raised on the farm from newborn ® bred yearling heifer ® lactating first calf heifer ® dry cow ® lactating cow.
7.13 Discuss proper milking procedures, parlor designs and housing.
7.14 Describe different feeding methods, commodity feeding, and types of feeds used.
7.15 List and discuss the three types of disease classes €“ metabolic, reproductive, and infectious.
7.16 Discuss routine health care issues and herd health programs, i.e. deworming, vaccination, etc.
The goal is for the student to identify the major breeds of goats, to know major goat anatomy, to understand goat behavior, statistics, diseases, reproduction, health care and common production and feeding practices.
8.1 List common goat behavior traits and restraint methods.
8.2 Students will learn vital statistics, goat anatomy, about teeth development, aging and goat terminology.
8.3 Students must identify at least seven common goat breeds and list three characteristics of each. Students must be knowledgeable of dairy breeds, fleece breeds, meat breeds and pygmy breeds.
8.4 Discuss goat reproduction, flushing, buck care, how to recognize signs of estrus, and pregnancy diagnosis.
8.5 Describe goat parturition, newborn care, vaccinations and raising orphans.
8.6 Discuss three production systems €“ Fleece/Meat System, Pet System, and Dairy System.
8.7 Explain the differences between goat and cow€™s milk, proper milking techniques, Grade A goat dairies, SCC, and row milk goat dairies.
8.8 Discuss basic health care, foot trimming, dehorning, and vaccinations.
8.9 Discuss proper feeding of goats and plant poisonings.
8.10 List and discuss common goat diseases.
The goal is for the student to be able to identify major breeds of horses, know major horse anatomy, and understand horse behavior, statistics and terminology. Emphasis is placed on equine reproduction, foaling, production, feeding, diseases, and routine health care.
9.1 Describe horse populations and trends in the USA today.
9.2 Discuss common behavior and restrain methods.
9.3 List common vital statistics, including teeth eruption and aging.
9.4 List common terms used in the equine industry.
9.5 Students must learn major horse anatomy and be able to identify at least seven major horse breeds and know characteristics of each.
9.6 Discuss reproduction, signs of estrus, teasing, natural and A-I breeding. Foaling season, foal heat, mare culture, pregnancy diagnosis, foaling and foal care are also discussed.
9.7 Cold-blooded, hot-blooded and warm-blooded horse breeds are discussed.
9.8 Colors and markings of horses are described, including breed registries.
9.9 Ten common rules for proper feeding of horses are discussed.
9.10 Ten common rules for proper housing of horses are discussed.
9.11 Describe equine production systems for breeding, racing, pets, rodeo, show, and meat use.
9.12 List and discuss common horse diseases.

  • Discuss the differences between donkeys, mules, jacks, jennets, and hinnies.
  • Look at the teeth of a horse and tell its age.
  • Discuss routine vaccination and worming programs.
  • Discuss proper restraint methods.

The goal is for the student to be able to identify the differences between hares and domestic rabbits, to recognize the major breeds of rabbits and describe characteristics of each breed. Students will also learn the basic production systems in the rabbit industry, learn about reproduction, feeding and common rabbit diseases.
10.1 Discuss the differences between rabbits and hares.
10.2 Domestic rabbits are divided into three breed classes €“ meat rabbits, fur rabbits, and pet or show rabbits.
10.3 Basic behavior and restraint is discussed.
10.4 Vital statistics and terminology is discussed.
10.5 Rabbit reproduction, breeding, kindling and sexing is discussed.
10.6 Production systems involve commercial meat, commercial fur, pet/show industry and research.
10.7 Students are taught proper feeding of the rabbit for pet and commercial use.
10.8 Common rabbit diseases are discussed.
10.9 Students must identify at least five major breeds and know common rabbit anatomy.
The goal is for the student to become familiar with the different breed classifications of poultry and to be able to identify at least two breeds of each species. Behavior, avian vital statistics, anatomy and basic production uses for each species will also be learned.
11.1 Discuss consumer trends in the poultry industry.
11.2 Discuss common body parts of the avian class.
11.3 Identify at least two breeds of each species.
11.4 Discuss vital statistics and poultry terminology.
11.5 Discuss the avian digestive tract and respiratory system.
11.6 Describe avian reproduction, the egg-laying process, egg incubation, and egg parts.
11.7 Discuss the broiler production system on a commercial basis.
11.8 Discuss egg production system on a commercial basis and as a small farm hobby.
11.9 Discuss egg classifications, marketing of eggs and spent hens.
11.10 Discuss feeding differences for the different species and common requirements.
11.12 Describe common avian diseases and customary problems with pet birds.
The goal is for the student to learn basic reproductive anatomy, terminology, different placenta types, and various breeding systems used in agriculture. The students are also introduced to basic genetics in an effort to match or exceed the knowledge of people involved in livestock breeding.
12.1 Students must be able to identify common reproductive parts of the cow and bull and know the function of each part.
12.2 Discuss the four types of placentas seen in mammals €“ cotyledonary, diffuse, zonary, and discoidal. Students learn how the placenta is formed including the amnion, allantois and the structures making up the umbilical cord.
12.3 Discuss common livestock breeding systems such as inbreeding, line breeding, close breeding, line crossing, out crossing, cross breeding, and hybrid vigor.
12.4 Discuss cellular mitosis, meiosis, zygote formation, and how sex of the offspring is determined in aves and mammals.
12.5 Discuss chromosome numbers in wolf hybrids and mules.
12.6 Discuss basic punnet square calculations to predict gene characteristics. Sex-linked genes, mutations and genetic engineering are also to be discussed.
12.7 Discuss dominant vs. recessive traits, lethal traits, etc.
The goal is for the student to be involved in small group discussions to gain different perspectives about the animal rights movement. They will discuss four different topics. Students will become familiar with the two divisions of the animal rights movement and become aware of the names of some of the animal rights groups.
13.1 Discuss where farmers, veterinarians and veterinarian technicians stand as far as their approval rating with the various animals rights groups.
13.2 Discuss the reformist vs. animal rights groups,
13.3 Discuss Rollins€™ book, €œFarm Animal Welfare.€
13.4 Discuss PCC€™s Animal Rehabilitation Program with respect to the various animals used in the Vet Tech Program.
13.5 Common group discussion topics include:

  • Tail docking 5-day old pups without anesthetic
  • Using dogs for medical research
  • Euthanasia in veterinary practices
  • Dehorning a 4-month old steer with or without anesthetic

The goal is to provide the student with hands-on learning of various animal health care procedures and practices, and to familiarize students with animals that they may not have had any prior exposure. The students will tour various animal farms or animal by-product facilities to learn different production methods and uses for animal products.
Examples of the lab schedule and sample lessons are listed below.
PCC Farm Tour of Facilities and barns
1. Horse, dog, and cat animal care duties
2. Hog identification, what makes a good hog
3. How to read a feed tag
4. How to read and understand guaranteed analysis in livestock feeds
5. Three basic knot ties

  • Hatter tie
  • Bow line
  • Square knot

6. Common cow restraint tools
7. Loading and unloading of large animal species 
8. Identify different types of feedstuffs
9. Identify hay quality
PCC Beef Cow Herd Health
1. Loading syringes
2. Proper vaccine administration 
3. Introduction to rectal palpation
4. Haltering a cow in the chute
5. Auscultation of heat
6. Health examination
7. Parts of a cow, breeds
8. How to administer a bolus by balling gun 
9. Record keeping
10. Chute operation
11. Application of nose tongs
12. Use of bovine tail restraint
13. Administer medications by use of a dose syringe
14. Place an oro-gastric tube in a cow
PCC Beef Calf Herd Health
OBJECTIVES €“ same as Lab II for cows plus ~
1. Brucellosis vaccinations *
2. Castration techniques **
3. Restraint *
4. Weight taping
5. Lice examination
6. Antibiotic/Tetanus administration
Northwest Alpacas Tour
1. Housing
2. Newborn cria care, birthing
3. Shearing practices
4. Fiber production steps in processing, washing and weaving
5. Commercial products available made from alpaca fiber
6. Feeding and general care
7. Pasture breeding system
8. Alpaca handling and restraint
9. Trimming feet
PCC Sheep Farm
1. How to catch, hold, move, and throw a sheep *
2. Vaccine administration, best locations *
3. Deworming with injectable dewormer
4. How to administer a bolus by balling gun *
5. How to drench a sheep *
6. Discuss parts of the live sheep
7. How to trim feet *
8. Sheep shearing and clipper care
9. Lamb care €“ vaccinations, tail docking, castration, identification
10. Breeding €“ ram harness
Kalsch Dairy Tour
1. Feeding practices, commodity feeding
2. Dairy housing, parlor design, milk house tour
3. Proper milking procedures, milk storage
4. Calf raising
5. Dairy Herd Health Program
6. A-I breeding technique, semen storage
7. Parts of a dairy cow
8. Showing a dairy cow
9. Milk classification, testing, shipment and processing
Laffalot Dairy Goat Farm Tour
1. Discussion of breeding operation and goat genetics
2. Goat productions use €“ meat and milk How to make goat cheese.
3. Parts of a dairy goat
4. How to catch a goat, restrain and lead a goat 
5. How to administer injections to a goat and how to give a bolus and drench *
6. Discussion of CAAE prevention and common herd health procedures such as trimming feet and dehorning
7. Raising kids on a bottle
8. Peacock Aviary tour and production uses
9. Proper hard milking technique and home milk processing, pasteurization
10. How to feed dairy goats
PCC Horse Lab
1. Students will view a video on proper horse care, feeding, loading, restraints and equipment *
2. Teeth care €“ floating teeth
3. Students will vaccinate Amber and the Farm Manager€™s 2-3 horses and deworm them with a syringe dewormer
4. Identify the parts of a horse
5. Sites of IV and IM injections
6. Demonstration on how to remove a shoe and trim feet
7. How to saddle a horse
8. How to halter and bridle a horse 
9. How to twitch a horse 
10. Administer medication using a dose syringe
Poultry Egg Show plus Dr. Matthiesen€™s slide show of Strange Veterinary Cases
1. Parts of the egg €“ chicken and emu
2. Strength of an egg
3. Caponizing kit
4. Animal cases seen in practice
Bald Peak Horse Rehabilitation & Foaling Center Tour
Tellington Touch Seminar
1. Different job opportunities in Vet Tech
2. Foaling facility €“ stall size, camera, and monitor
3. Foaling process
4. Water treadmill hydrotherapy and exercise program for conditioning and rehabilitation
5. Animal behaviorist speaks about different animal training techniques €“ especially helpful in restraint and dealing with animals that have developed bad habits