cod. 1004812

Academic year 2023/24
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Zootecnica generale e miglioramento genetico (AGR/17)
Discipline della zootecnica, allevamento e nutrizione animale
Type of training activity
64 hours
of face-to-face activities
5 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

At the end of the course the student is expected to be able to: Know and understand the basics of genetic transmission of traits and of genetic improvement; Acquire the elements for choosing the breeders; To recognize the main breeds of animals of economic interest and of dogs (1st Dublin marker);Applying theoretical knowledge through the solution of specific problems (2nd Dublin Indicator);To demonstrate the autonomy of judgment (3rd Indicator of Dublin) in the application of knowledge to the genetic improvement of animal populations; To make correct choices for the management of animal populations, in particular for those with limited spread; Acquire a good language property (4th Dublin marker), also linked to the discussion that the teacher urges during the front lessons; To raise the student's ability to learn, through discussion, the practical applications of genetic improvement in the main breeds raised (5th Dublin marker) so that they have cognitive elements that can be spent in professional practice.


Having attended the course "Fisica applic.,matem.di base applic.scienze biomed., biologica" and passed the exam

Course unit content

The first part of the course covers the topics of discussion of basic genetics (DNA, RNA, genes, chromosomes, Mendel's laws, exceptions to Mendel's laws, sex-linked inheritance, multiple allelism, lethal genes).
The second part concerns the population genetics (Hardy-Weinberg law) and the genetic improvement (infinitesimal genetic model, heritability, phases of a breeding program, evaluation of a program of genetic improvement, relationships, inbreeding and crossing).
The third part concerns the study of ethnology (breeds of the major livestock species and of dogs).

Full programme

GENERAL LIVESTOCK SCIENCE (2 hours): The livestock systems for the production of meat, milk and other animal products.
DEMOGRAPHY (2 hours): The structure of animal populations.
BASIC GENETICS (20 hours): Outline of genetic transmission of characters. Mendelian heredity (qualitative characteristics, laws of Mendel, gene interaction and deviation from expected Mendelian relationships, sex determination and sex-linked inheritance, lethal genes, multiple allelism). Principles of population genetics (concept of gene frequency and genotypic, Hardy-Weinberg law).
GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF ANIMALS IN LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION (30 hours): Brief references to statistical concepts (probability, variance, covariance, correlation and regression). Quantitative traits (variability, composition of phenotypic variability, environmental variability, additive and non-additive effect of genes, heritability, repeatability). Organization of selection in Italy (stud books, genealogical registers, hybrid breeding pigs). The functional recording of animal products. The relationships. Methods for estimating the genetic value of breeders (performance testing, sib test, progeny test, pedigree index, BLUP-animal model, genomic selection). Direct and indirect selection, genetic progress, selection for multiple traits. Reproduction methods: inbreeding and crossbreeding. Application of genetic improvement to major livestock production (cattle: milk and meat, pig: meat). Management of animal populations with limited diffusion.
ZOOTECHNICAL ETHNOLOGY (10 hours):General characteristics, origin, evolution, distribution and inventory of breeds: - Dairy cattle breeds, beef and dual purpose (meat and milk); - Sheep breeds reared in Italy according to the prevailing attitudes; foreign sheep breeds of most interest to the Italian breeder; - Goat breeds; - Pig breeds;- Classification of dog breeds.


BITTANTE G., ANDRIGHETTO L., RAMANZIN M.: Fondamenti di Zootecnica. Liviana Ed., Padova, 1990
Pagnacco G. (2020): GENETICA ANIMALE Applicazioni zootecniche e veterinarie, 3rd edition, Casa editrice Ambrosiana, MI.
PIERCE B.A.: Genetica, Zanichelli Ed., 2003.
Students can download pdf files of the lessons and supplemental files from Elly Platform (

Teaching methods

The course is based on frontal lessons, during which, alongside the theoretical part, basic genetic problems and ways to solve them will be proposed. The discussion during the lessons will provide students with the ability to face up to the final assessment and other types of problems that may be presented in future professional activities. The teaching material used during the lessons is provided on the Elly-Veterinary Platform at the beginning of the course (any changes in course of work will be reported promptly). Slides are considered an integral part of teaching material and lesson notes.

Assessment methods and criteria

The achievement of the objectives will be assessed through an oral examination at the end of the course. There are no ongoing testing activities. At this moment, in addition to the knowledge of the topics included in the program, the student must demonstrate, through the development and solution of specific problems, to have acquired good reasoning skills and exposure. Normally, three questions are submitted: one about mendelian genetics, one about genetic improvement and one about ethnology. To the students with diagnosis of specific learning disability (DSA) certified under law n. 170/2010, proper specific support will be provided.

Other information