Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences Offers New Major in Dairy and Food Animal Management

Apr 26, 2024

The Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences recently received approval from the UW Board of Regents to launch a new undergraduate major in dairy and food animal management. The major, which students can declare starting in fall 2024, provides foundations in animal science, food and animal agriculture, and business management of animal production enterprises.

“The message from our alumni and stakeholders in recent years has been consistent: Our graduates need stronger business and management training and more effective interpersonal skills to effectively tackle today’s challenges in animal agriculture and embrace tomorrow’s opportunities,” says Kent Weigel, professor and chair of the animal and dairy sciences department. “This new major will provide students a broad understanding of issues facing our industries – and develop the skills they’ll need – to have a prosperous future in management positions and other customer-facing roles in farming and related agribusinesses.”

The dairy and food animal management major will replace the current dairy science undergraduate major, which focuses heavily on dairy cow biology. Undergraduates will be able to declare the existing dairy science major through summer 2025. Students enrolled in the dairy science major can choose to complete their degree (before fall 2029) or switch to the new major.

The new major comes in response to the needs of the dairy industry as well as the livestock, poultry and meat processing industries. First, it emphasizes training in management, business concepts and economics. Second, it encompasses a range of food animal species, as well as meat science.

With the change, the department is expanding flexibility and options for students, giving them expanded capacity to choose courses that match their interests. For the new dairy and food animal management major, students will take introductory courses in animal science and agricultural economics as well as courses in agricultural finance and farming systems management. Beyond those foundational courses, they will take additional courses from three focus area options: animal science; food and animal agriculture; and business economics and management.

The dairy and food animal management major, which retains the department’s popular internship and senior capstone experiences, is designed to be completed within four years.

This change is part of the department of animal and dairy sciences’ broader strategic plan. Last fall, the department of animal and dairy sciences transitioned its animal sciences major into the new animal and veterinary biosciences major.

“This is our department’s latest step to expand our research, teaching and outreach portfolio beyond animal biology to better support a food and agriculture future that benefits farmers, consumers, and the environment,” says Weigel. “This new major will provide our students with greater flexibility to select courses and broader preparation in business, communications and other skill areas that complement animal biology courses for impactful careers in animal agriculture, now and into the future.”

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