The graduate program in animal genetics is interdepartmental, and students pursuing a MS or PhD in Dairy Science with emphasis in animal genetics work closely with faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral research associates in Animal Sciences. The primary research focus at present is genomic selection, with students working on topics such as: methods for prediction of breeding values using single nucleotide polymophism (SNP) markers, assessing the relationship between genomic predictions and future progeny performance, prediction of future phenotypes using genomic data and health history information, controlling inbreeding in modern breeding programs, development of cost-effective genotyping strategies, use of statistical models and machine learning algorithms to identify superior breeding stock, and the discovery and characterization of specific genes with large effects using genome-wide association studies. Strategies for using genetic and genomic information to improve traits such as fertility, calving ability, early postpartum health and feed utilization efficiency are a major emphasis. Students are expected to have a working knowledge of animal nutrition, reproductive biology and dairy management from their undergraduate studies. At the graduate level they will take courses in statistical methods, experimental design, molecular and quantitative genetics, computer science and bioinformatics.
Graduates at the MS level typically pursue employment with dairy cattle breeding companies, many of which have their domestic or global headquarters in Wisconsin, and graduates at the PhD level pursue research-based positions in academic institutions, government laboratories or private industry.