ABG-20306 Animal Breeding and Genetics


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. M.P.L. Calus
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. M.P.L. Calus
dr. ir. BJ Ducro
Examiner(s)dr. ir. M.P.L. Calus
dr. ir. BJ Ducro

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

We assume knowledge on basic principles of Mendelian inheritance and statistics (mean, variance, regression, correlation), such as presented in the introductory BSc courses GEN-11806 and MAT-15303/403.


By lectures and tutorials this course will introduce the main principles underlying genetic improvement in livestock and companion animals. These principles include aspects of population, quantitative and molecular genetics as well as principles of breeding programs. Biological aspects are integrated in the course. In this introductory course the focus is on all aspects needed to run breeding programs either focusing on genetic improvement or on conservation of genetic diversity. During the practicals, which are scheduled in the last 3 weeks, students will work in pairs on a case study to run and optimize a breeding program.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- describe the steps that need to be taken when setting up a breeding program;
- describe how selection can alleviate the effect of monogenic recessive diseases;
- calculate family relationships and inbreeding coefficients in pedigrees;
- predict the rate of inbreeding for simple situations;
- explain how family relationships between individuals can be used to estimate breeding values;
- describe the consequences of different selection and mating strategies for the response to selection;
- describe how DNA markers can be used to increase genetic gain and maintain genetic diversity in breeding programs;
- describe how running breeding programs can be evaluated in terms of response to selection and genetic diversity.


- lectures (explanation of theory);
- tutorials (exercises);
- practicals (work on a case study 'designing a breeding program for dairy sheep').


- midterm exam with ~35 multiple choice questions (25%);
- written exam with 5 open questions (75%).
The minimum mark for the written exam is 5. The midterm exam only counts when the mark is higher than the mark of the written exam.


Study guide and other study material for practicals in Brigthspace.
Lecture notes will be provided (and are also available as pdf in Brigthspace).

Compulsory for: BASAnimal SciencesBSc1AF
Restricted Optional for: MASAnimal SciencesMScA: Genetics and Biodiversity1AF