Skip to main content

WageningenX: Genetic Models for Animal Breeding

Understand the genetic and statistic principles that enable responsible animal breeding. Learn how to set up a breeding programme and apply genetic models and tools to predict the breeding value. Subscribe to this online course now.

6 weeks
4–6 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

Choose your session:

17,145 already enrolled! After a course session ends, it will be archivedOpens in a new tab.
Starts Feb 21
Starts May 7
Ends Oct 22

About this course

Skip About this course

Animal breeding involves the selective breeding of domestic animals with the intention to improve desirable (and heritable) qualities in the next generation. This course introduces the steps required to design a program for breeding animals and teaches the genetic and statistical concepts that are needed to build a solid breeding program.

In this course you will learn how an animal breeder balances the need for improving desirable qualities of the animals with the need for genetic diversity and long sustainability of the program. The scientific concepts in genetics that are applied in animal breeding will be explained and you will learn to apply the models and computational methods that are used in animal breeding.

Knowledge in the area of statistics at 2nd or 3rd year university level is needed to follow this course successfully.

For whom
Professionals working with animals will use the knowledge from this course to understand the impact of breeding on their populations, and will be able to include the genetic principles in their decisions. For further studies such as M.Sc. level courses in breeding and genetics, this course will allow you an advanced starting point.

Although this course is open to everyone, it is particular useful for breeders of:

  • Cows
  • Poultry/Chicken
  • Horses
  • Pigs/Swine
  • Dogs
  • Sheep
  • Goat
  • Fish
  • Shrimp

Professional Certificate Program
This course is part of the Professional Certificate Program "Animal Breeding and Genetics". Join the other course in the program, Evaluating Animal Breeding Programs, and advance your career as a breeder.

The course is developed with financial support and input from the Koepon Foundation and the African Chicken Genetic Gains project.

At a glance

  • Institution: WageningenX
  • Subject: Biology & Life Sciences
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:

    The prerequisites are a high school level of mathematics and genetics and a 2nd or 3rd year university level of statistics.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated programs:
  • Associated skills:Animal Reproduction, Legislation, Biology, Aquaculture, DNA Sequencing

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • The steps required in setting up a breeding program.
  • Understanding of the main concepts in animal breeding.
  • Applying genetic models and tools to predict the breeding value of animals.
  • Applying tools to predict genetic change and/or inbreeding in populations.
  • Understand the dissemination of genetic progress in different animal

Module1: Introduction to Animal Breeding
Introduction to the seven steps that are needed to set up a breeding program.

Module 2: The breeding goal

Learning the characteristics of a breeding goal and how to define a breeding goal for genetic improvement and for genetic diversity.

Module 3: Collection of information and family relationships
Learning the value of information on relationships, performance, and DNA information, including the concept and consequences of inbreeding. Learning methods to quantify relationships and inbreeding.

Module 4: Genetic models
Learning the concept of genetic models and to apply suitable genetic models for different traits. Learning the genetic concepts of heritability, repeatability, common environment ratio and mendelian sampling.

Module 5: Ranking the animals
Learning to estimate the breeding value of animals, using single or multiple sources of information, including DNA information. Learning to calculate the accuracy of estimated breeding values.

Module 6: Response to selection
Learning to calculate the response to selection and knowing its key elements and consequences of trade-offs between them. To understand mating schemes and long term contributions to inbreeding.

Learner testimonials

Skip Learner testimonials

"This course is very important especially developing countries like Africa where there is no well planned Breeding policy for the different farm animals. Because of this, they couldn't get the expected production and productivity is very low."

"All the course organizers were well prepared and knowledgeable. That was very respectful of their learners and the profession of animal breeding. I can now see why Wageningen University is a leader in teaching and research of animal science!"

Frequently Asked Questions

Skip Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and/or related online programmes of Wageningen University & Research? To help you find answers to your questions, we created a list with frequently asked questions about enrolling, participating in- and finishing a MOOC.

This course is part ofAnimal Breeding and Genetics Professional Certificate Program

Learn more 
Expert instruction
2 skill-building courses
Progress at your own speed
3 months
4 - 6 hours per week

Interested in this course for your business or team?

Train your employees in the most in-demand topics, with edX For Business.