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Animal genetics - health, behaviour and welfare

In this course you will learn about disease genetics, genetics of animal behaviour and breeding for improved animal welfare. Three parallel parts run along the whole course: lectures, case studies and own project work. Computer exercises are also included. The lectures deal with health and behaviour of agriculture-, sport- and companion animals. Scientific discussion is an important part of the course. Together with other students you work on different cases where you practice what you learn during lectures. In the individual project, where you raise a research question and plan a scientific study, you get the chance to focus on your favourite topic. This course is a good preparation for your future thesis project.

Course evaluation

Additional course evaluations for HV0167

Academic year 2022/2023

Animal genetics - health, behaviour and welfare (HV0167-40098)

2023-03-22 - 2023-06-04

Academic year 2021/2022

Animal genetics - health, behaviour and welfare (HV0167-40005)

2022-03-24 - 2022-06-05

Academic year 2020/2021

Animal genetics - health, behaviour and welfare (HV0167-40021)

2021-03-24 - 2021-06-06

Academic year 2019/2020

Animal genetics - health, behaviour and welfare (HV0167-40117)

2020-03-25 - 2020-06-07

Academic year 2018/2019

Animal genetics - health, behaviour and welfare (HV0167-40113)

2019-03-26 - 2019-06-09

Syllabus and other information


HV0167 Animal genetics - health, behaviour and welfare, 15.0 Credits

Husdjursgenetik - hälsa, beteende och välfärd


Animal Science Biology

Education cycle

Master’s level


Title Credits Code
Genetic analyses 3.0 0102
Plan research project 4.0 0103
Breeding work 8.0 0104

Advanced study in the main field

Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirementsMaster’s level (A1N)

Grading scale

5:Pass with Distinction, 4:Pass with Credit, 3:Pass, U:Fail The requirements for attaining different grades are described in the course assessment criteria which are contained in a supplement to the course syllabus. Current information on assessment criteria shall be made available at the start of the course.



Prior knowledge

Knowledge equivalent to

- 180 credits at first cycle level, of which

- 60 credits biology, animal science, equine science, veterinary nursing or veterinary medicine of which 5 credits genetics or 60 credits agricultural sciences (of which at least 30 credits animal and dairy science/zoology and 5 credits genetics)


- English 6


The course intends to provide advanced knowledge in disease genetics and the genetic background of behaviours, and understanding of the consequences of current breeding for animals’ health and behaviour, so that the student can work for better animal welfare.

On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

- in detail describe the genetic control of different behaviour and health traits, how these traits have been changed during domestication and how they can be changed through breeding

- predict the consequences of breeding for the animals’ welfare - describe how molecular genetic methods are used to identify genes associated with disease and behavioural disorders

- analyse behaviour and health traits and discuss advantages and disadvantages with different methods and models

- integrate knowledge of genetics, health, behaviour and animal welfare to solve complex problems within animal husbandry

- independently search, summarise, interpret and critically review scientific articles about the genetics of behaviour and health traits,

- communicate and collaborate with people who have different areas of expertise

- discuss ethical issues linked to genetics of behaviour and health traits and formulate a position on such issues.


Three parallel parts run along the whole course: lectures, case studies and own project work.

The lectures are about health and behaviour of agriculture-, sport- and companion animals and covers epidemiological methods, data recording, parameter estimation, molecular genetic methods, selection, genetic trends and breeding programs.

Ethical issues and animal welfare questions are integrated in the whole course. The students apply knowledge from lectures and course literature in four concrete cases. The students work with these cases in groups. Different groups work with different species and traits in each case. The case is completed with joint presentations and discussions. Two larger computer exercises about parameter estimation and selection are included in the course.

In the individual project, the student plans a scientific study within the genetics of behaviour- or health traits, writes a research application, presents the plan orally and evaluates other students’ applications. In the project, the student may specialise within optional species and focus on behaviour- or health traits. An ethical assessment should be included in the application.

Compulsory components occur, such as exercises, group assignments and presentations.

Formats and requirements for examination

Passed written and oral examination. Passed participation in compulsory course modules.
- If a student has failed an examination, the examiner has the right to issue supplementary assignments. This applies if it is possible and there are grounds to do so.

- The examiner can provide an adapted assessment to students entitled to study support for students with disabilities following a decision by the university. Examiners may also issue an adapted examination or provide an alternative way for the students to take the exam.

- If this syllabus is withdrawn, SLU may introduce transitional provisions for examining students admitted based on this syllabus and who have not yet passed the course.

- For the assessment of an independent project (degree project), the examiner may also allow a student to add supplemental information after the deadline for submission. Read more in the Education Planning and Administration Handbook.
  • If the student fails a test, the examiner may give the student a supplementary assignment, provided this is possible and there is reason to do so.
  • If the student has been granted special educational support because of a disability, the examiner has the right to offer the student an adapted test, or provide an alternative assessment.
  • If changes are made to this course syllabus, or if the course is closed, SLU shall decide on transitional rules for examination of students admitted under this syllabus but who have not yet passed the course.
  • For the examination of a degree project (independent project), the examiner may also allow the student to add supplemental information after the deadline. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.

Other information

- The right to participate in teaching and/or supervision only applies for the course instance the student was admitted to and registered on.

- If there are special reasons, students are entitled to participate in components with compulsory attendance when the course is given again. Read more in the Education Planning and Administration Handbook.

Additional information

The course assumes good prior knowledge within Genetics/Animal Breeding and statistics/mathematics. Costs for study visits can be added.

Responsible department

Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics

Further information

Determined by: Programnämnden för utbildning inom veterinärmedicin och husdjur (PN - VH)
Biology field: Zoologi (djurbiologi)
Replaces: HV0102, HV0103, HV0114

Litterature list

HV0167 Animal genetics - health, behaviour and welfare

List of literature

1. Arvelius, P. 2014. Genetic evaluation of behaviour in dogs. Acta Universitatis agriculturae Sueciae 2014:59, 7-51.

2. Bishop, SC, Fleming, RH, McCormack, HA, Flock, DK and Whitehead, CC. 2000. Inheritance of bone characteristics affecting osteoporosis in laying hens. British poultry science, 41(1), 33-40.

3. Towards more sustainable animal breeding with Code EFABAR – EURACTIV 2022

4. Bishop, SC and Woolliams, JA. 2014. Genomics and disease resistance studies in livestock. Livestock science, 166, 190-198.

5. Brunberg, E, Rodenburg, B, Rydhmer, L, Kjaer, J, Jensen, P, Keeling, L. 2016. Omnivores Going Astray: A Review and New Synthesis of Abnormal Behavior in Pigs and Laying Hens. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, section Animal Behavior and Welfare 3:57. 15 pp.

6. König, S. and May, K. 2019. Invited review: Phenotyping strategies and quantitative-genetic background of resistance, tolerance and resilience associated traits in dairy cattle. Animal. 13:5. Pp 897-908.

7. Dawkins, M.S., Layton, R. 2012. Breeding for better welfare: genetic goals for broiler chickens and their parents. Animal Welfare 21, 147-155.

8. Dodman, NH, Karlsson, EK, Moon-Fanelli, A, Galdzicka, M, Perloski, M, Shuster, L, Lindblad-Toh, K, Ginns, EI. 2010. A canine chromosome 7 locus confers compulsive disorder susceptibility. Molecular Psychiatry 15, 8-10.

9. Dohoo, I.R., 2014. Bias — Is it a problem, and what should we do? Preventive veterinary medicine, 113(3), 331-337.

10. Emanuelson, U. and Egenvall, A., 2014. The data – Sources and validation. Preventive veterinary medicine, 113(3), 298-303.

11. Grimsrud, KM, Nielsen, HM, Navrud, S, Olesen, I. 2013. Households' willingness-to pay for improved fish welfare in breeding programs for farmed Atlantic salmon. Aquaculture 372–375, 19–27.

12. (Grandinson, K. 2005. Genetic background of maternal behavior and its relation to offspring survival. Livestock Production Science 93, 43-50.) – not used 2022

13. Haskell, MJ, Simm, G, Turner, SP. 2014. Genetic selection for temperament traits in dairy and beef cattle. Frontiers in genetics. October 2014, vol 5, 368, 61-78.

14. Jensen, P. 2006. Domestication—from behaviour to genes and back again. Applied animal behaviour science, 97(1), 3-15.

15. Jensen, P. 2015. Adding ‘epi-’to behaviour genetics: implications for animal domestication. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218(1), 32-40.

16. Jönsson, L., Näsholm, A., Roepstorff, L., Egenvall, A., Dalin, G. and Philipsson, J. 2014. Conformation traits and their genetic and phenotypic associations with health status in young Swedish warmblood riding horses. Livestock Science, 163, 12–25.

17. Karlsson, E.K., Baranowska, I., Wade, C.M., Hillbertz, N.H.S., Zody, M.C., Anderson, N., Biagi, T.M., Patterson, N., Pielberg, G.R., Kulbokas, E.J. and Comstock, K.E., 2007. Efficient mapping of mendelian traits in dogs through genome-wide association. Nature genetics, 39(11), pp.1321- 1328.

18. Liinamo, A-E., et al., 2007. Genetic variation in aggression-related traits in Golden Retriever dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 104(1-2)

19. Leenstra, Napel, Visscher and Sambeek 2016. Layer breeding programmes in a changing production environment: a historic perspective. World’s poultry science Journal 72, 21-35.

20. Malm, S., Fikse, W.F., Danell, B. and Strandberg, E., 2008. Genetic variation and genetic trends in hip and elbow dysplasia in Swedish Rottweiler and Bernese Mountain Dog. Journal of animal breeding and genetics, 125(6), pp.403-412.

21. Mattiello, S., Battini, M., Andreoli, E., Barbieri, S. 2011. Short communication: Breed differences affecting dairy cattle welfare in traditional alpine tie-stall husbandry systems. J. Dairy Sci. 94, 2403–2407.

22. Muir, WM, Cheng, HW, Croney, C. 2014. Methods to address poultry robustness and welfare issues through breeding and associated ethical considerations. Frontiers in genetics Nov 2014, vol 5, article 407. Pp 93-103.

23. Martin, W., 2014. Making valid causal inferences from observational data. Preventive veterinary medicine, 113(3), pp.281-297.

24. Understanding Animal Welfare – Keeling et al 2018 (In: Appleby, M.C., Olsson, A and Galindo. F. (Eds). Animal Welfare, 3rd edition. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, pp. 16-38. (2nd Edition is also ok to use))

25. Rauw and Gomez-Raya 2015. Genotype by environment interaction and breeding for robustness in livestock Frontiers in Genetics 20 oct 2015 doi 10.3389/fgene.2015.00310.

26. Rydhmer, L & Lundeheim, N. 2008. Breeding pigs for improved welfare. In: Welfare of pigs – from birth to slaughter. Eds: L Faucitano & AL Schaefer. Wageningen Academic Publishers. p 243-270.

27. Persson M.E., et al., 2018. Sociality genes are associated with human-directed social behaviour in golden and Labrador retriever dogs. PeerJ Nov 6;6:e5889

28. Shrestha, M. 2017. Genetics of equine insect bite hypersensitivity and genetic diversity in horses. Acta Universitatis agriculturae Sueciae 2017:1, pages 13-65.

29. Removed literature

30. Tang, R., et al., 2014. Candidate genes and functional noncoding variants identified in a canine model of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Genome biology, 15(3), p.R25.

31. Van Laere, A.S., et al., 2003. A regulatory mutation in IGF2 causes a major QTL effect on muscle growth in the pig. Nature, 425(6960), pp.832-836.

32a. Sandøe, P., et al., 2021. Hornless cattle – is gene editing the best solution? In H. Schübel, & I. Wallimann-Helmer (Eds.), Justice and food security in a changing climate: EurSafe 2021, Fribourg, Switzerland, 24-26 June 2021 (pp. 324-330). Wageningen Academic Publishers.

32b. Eriksson, S., et al., 2018. Breeding and ethical perspectives on genetically modified and genome edited cattle. J Dairy Sci Jan;101(1):1-17

33. Goodwin, S., McPherson, J.D., McCombie, W.R., 2016. Coming of age: Ten years of next-generation sequencing technologies. May 17(6):333-51.

34. Viluma, A., Mikko, S., Hahn, D., Skow, L., Andersson, G., Bergström., T.F., 2017. Genomic structure of the horse major histocompatibility complex class II region resolved using PacBio long-read sequencing technology. Sci Rep. Mar 31;7:45518

35. Noh, J.H., et al., 2017. Integrating evolutionary and regulatory information with a multispecies approach implicates genes and pathways in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Nat Commun. Oct 17;8(1):774.

36. Sayyab S., et al., 2016. Whole-Genome Sequencing of a Canine Family Trio Reveals a FAM83G Variant Associated with Hereditary Footpad Hyperkeratosis. G3 (Bethesda). 6(3):521-7

37. Rydhmer, L., 2020. Advances in understanding the genetics of pig behaviour. In: Understanding the behaviour and improving the welfare of pigs (ed: S Edwards). Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing.

38. Bourne, P.E., Chalupa L. M., 2006. Simple Rules for Getting Grants. PLoS Comput Biol. 2(2):e12

39. Strandberg, E., 2017. Introduction to statistical methods (written for the course)

40. Lyons, L.A., 2015. DNA mutations of the cat: The good, the bad the ugly. J Feline Med Surg. 17(3):203-19

41. Low, M., et al., 2019. Demography, heritability and genetic correlation of feline hip dysplasia and response to selection in a health screening programme. Sci Rep 9(1):17164

Course facts

The course is offered as an independent course: Yes The course is offered as a programme course: Animal Science - Master's Programme Tuition fee: Tuition fee only for non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens: 38060 SEK Cycle: Master’s level (A1N)
Subject: Animal Science Biology
Course code: HV0167 Application code: SLU-30016 Location: Uppsala Distance course: No Language: English Responsible department: Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics Pace: 100%