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Developing and monitoring of livestock production systems

Module information>

Academic Direction
The Royal Veterinary College
Modes of Study

This module seeks to provide an analytical framework through which you can develop a systematic appreciation of livestock production systems and the wider issues involved in the husbandry of livestock to provide for the various needs of humans.

Topics covered

The module consists of eight units of study, all of which you should complete. They make up the following three sections:

Section 1 Introduction and Background to Systems

In this section (Units 1–3) you will learn about the development of farming systems and how farming systems research contributes to the ongoing development of these systems. A detailed explanation of livestock production systems around the globe is presented, with examples, and some new developments are discussed.

Section 2 Development and Monitoring of Systems

The second section (Units 4–6) begins by describing what types of information and data are necessary for assessing the development of livestock production systems and for their ongoing monitoring. The importance of sampling in the process of data collection is explained and you will explore in detail the ways in which data are used in appraising the production system. Finally, concepts of participatory research and extension in the development of livestock farming and the emergence of organic farming, as an example of farmer-driven innovation and development, will be described.

Section 3 Issues in Livestock Production Systems

The final section consists of two units (7 and 8). The main issues that confront livestock farming are explored here. As the systems and issues facing developing countries are somewhat different from those in developed countries, the two units in this section will focus on the two situations separately. Issues such as animal welfare, effects on the environment, genetic concerns, and problems in technology transfer and adoption are examined in detail in this module.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module you should be able to:

  • explain the systems approach to livestock production
  • discuss the background to farming systems development and how farming systems have adapted to local geography and resources
  • give a detailed account of livestock production systems throughout the world
  • describe the types of information and data that are required for appraisal and monitoring of livestock production systems
  • explain how participatory research and extension contribute to further developments in livestock production systems
  • discuss the main environmental, animal welfare and genetic diversity issues that occur in livestock production
  • give an overview of feed resources and use, markets and marketing, and technology transfer and adoption by developing countries.


Your work for this module will be assessed by means of a three-hour unseen written examination paper which will take the form of essay questions. In addition, you must submit at least one and up to three TMAs.

The grade awarded will be based on the mark obtained in the written examination (80%) and on the mark for the compulsory TMA (20%).

Module information sheets

Download the full module information sheet from the RVC website.