Dairy Sciences

Dairy science is a field that focuses on livestock breeding and management, genetics, nutrition and physiology, among other related issues, in order to maximize dairy business operations. Continue reading to learn more about educational options and employment prospects for dairy scientists.

Is Dairy Science for Me?

Career Overview

Dairy science degree programs examine aspects of dairy farm management, including overseeing production, monitoring the well-being of dairy cattle and managing dairy finances. Topics covered include nutrition, breeding and ecosystems. Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs are available.

Duties and Skills

Duties and skill sets for dairy farmers and scientists can vary according to the specific job. As a dairy farmer, much of your work will be physical and take place outdoors. Duties typically include caring for cattle, milking cows and birthing animals. If you become a dairy scientist, you'll use your analytical and research skills to evaluate data and suggest beneficial changes in breeding and feeding plans. An understanding of animals and genetics is key to working as an animal breeder, especially when you're trying to mate animals that will produce more gallons of milk, or milk with higher percentages of butterfat.

Career Options

With a degree in dairy science, you can pursue a career as a dairy scientist or farmer, dairy product or food manufacturer, animal breeder or quality control inspector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 2,700 animal scientists, including dairy scientists, were employed in the United States in 2012. In the same year, there were nearly one million people working in farming, ranching and agricultural management positions.

The BLS projected a 9% increase in employment for animal scientists nationwide between 2012 and 2022, while animal breeders, farmers and ranchers would see a decline in jobs during the same 10-year period. Employment opportunities for agricultural inspectors are expected to remain stable from 2012-2022.

According to the BLS in May 2013, the median annual salary for animal scientists was $64,260, while animal breeders and inspectors in general earned a median of $37,950 and $42,680 per year, respectively. As of May 2013, farmers and ranchers had a median annual income of $69,300 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in the Dairy Sciences?

Undergraduate Education

Although no formal education is required to become a dairy worker or farmer, earning an associate's or a bachelor's degree can help you master the financial and management aspects of farming and ranching. In addition to courses in agribusiness, an undergraduate curriculum typically covers topics in animal health and husbandry, genetics and nutrition. Most schools with a dairy science program have an existing facility that houses livestock and all of the necessities for a full-scale dairy farming operation. Some dairy science schools may have internship requirements.

With a bachelor's degree, you could become a dairy scientist, animal breeder or dairy production worker. Or, you could work for companies that supply dairy farmers with equipment, food or animals.

Graduate Degree Programs

Master's and doctoral degree programs in dairy science can help you acquire the background you need to assess and improve the quality of animal health and products. For example, you may learn how to address methods for grading meat or use genetics to improve livestock breeds. You can also find out how to enhance milk production, lower operating costs and create better sanitation systems. Hands-on lab work with animals will also be included, as well as the opportunity to conduct industry-related research. As a qualified graduate, you may be able to obtain a position as a dairy production or farm manager, or as a university professor and researcher.

Related Articles for Dairy Sciences

View More Articles

Related Videos

  • How Do I Become a Home Economics Teacher? - Video

    Home Economics Teachers teach students about child care, family relations, consumer sciences and related topics. Like other teachers, Home Ec teachers need at least a bachelor's degree to work with students in a classroom setting. Learn more about the specific education and licensing requirements for Home Economics Teachers.
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools