Animal breeders are responsible for producing animals that may be used for a variety of purposes such as companionship, show, sport, or consumption. To select breeding stock that will produce superior offspring, animal breeders use their knowledge of genetics and conformation. Successful animal breeders try to propagate valuable traits (for example high milk production in dairy cows) when planning their breedings. Facilitating breedings by live cover or artificial insemination, assisting with problem births, maintaining cages or enclosures, feeding, administering supplements or medications, treating minor injuries, and keeping detailed health and pedigree records are the usual duties for animal breeders. Breeders may also show their stock in a variety of judged breed shows and competitive events. Both companion animals and livestock breeds may gain additional value as breeding stock if they demonstrate their superiority on the show circuit. A dog that wins “best in show” at the famed Westminster show, for example, would command a very significant stud fee in the show dog breeding industry. Either for commercial production or companion/competition purposes, animal breeders can specialize in a wide variety of species. Some of the most popular areas of specialization involve producing dogs, cats, horses, cattle, goats, sheep, rabbits and many others.

Animal breeder jobs

Breeders may further specialize within their breed of choice by selecting in favor of performance for a particular purpose. While others select for another body type so that their foals will be able to compete successfully in halter show classes, some Quarter Horse breeders select for a body type that promotes speed and racing ability, for example. Animal breeders may be self-employed or work for a major commercial farm or producer. Both full time and part time positions are possible. Many in the industry have degrees in areas such as animal science, animal reproduction, or biology while no formal degree is required for a career as an animal breeder. Coursework for such degrees generally includes the study of subjects such as anatomy, physiology, reproduction, genetics, nutrition, and behavior. Courses in marketing, communication, and technology are usually beneficial. Animal breeders may need to develop specialized skills with regard to utilizing artificial insemination or live cover breeding techniques, depending on the species they work with. The annual earnings of an animal breeder can vary widely based on the type and quality of animal they are producing, its intended use, the current value of such animals, and the breeder’s reputation in the industry. SimplyHired.com cited an average salary of $39,000 for animal farming & breeding careers in January of 2012. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported similar results, finding that animal breeders earned a mean wage of $35,620 in 2010 (reflecting a mean hourly wage of $17.13). The highest mean salaries for animal breeders were found in Pennsylvania ($41,860), California ($40,990), Kentucky ($34,490), and Texas ($34,350). While holding full time positions in other fields, part time or “backyard” breeders will also continue to make a contribution to the industry.