Modern animal husbandry faces a variety of challenges. The UN's ‘Food and Agriculture Organization’ (FAO) has formulated the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) and the Dutch government aims to implement circular production systems in the agricultural landscape. Simultaneously, the welfare status of our (domestic) animals and reducing test animal usage in scientific research are central topics in societal debate. Meanwhile, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are campaigning for conservation of biodiversity, and zoos play an important role in breeding programmes for endangered species. All these players have a common goal: a sustainable life alongside our animals!
For sustainable animal husbandry, animal health and welfare guarantees are paramount. Animal scientists need to have profound knowledge of physiological processes in animals. An integral approach of (preventive) animal healthcare, animal nutrition and housing systems, that encourages natural behaviour is essential. According to the ‘one-health principle’, animal health and welfare should always be pursued holistically, combined with good public health and a healthy environment. The aim here is to make animal husbandry sustainable in the Netherlands and around the world. Innovation in the animal sector can limit harmful impacts related to (intensive) animal husbandry, e.g. antimicrobial resistance development (as a result of antimicrobial drugs usage), public health risks due to the spread of zoonotic diseases and emissions of high-environmental-impact gases, such as CO2 and equivalents, as well as nitrogen compounds. Companies in the animal industry constantly collaborate with animal science professionals with a view to innovation in sustainable animal husbandry systems.
The exchange programme facilitates students and animal science professionals in laying the foundation that is required to play a crucial part in a future-based sustainable animal husbandry, both in The Netherlands and internationally. Participants will collaborate in group projects to make a relevant contribution to ‘real-life’ innovations. To achieve this, the group will collaborate with professional partners from science and the animal industry. Applied research, combined with literature study and stakeholder conversations, will lead to profound theory-based advice that can be applied in practical situations.
Students will also work on individual research into an animal science topic of their choice, to obtain insight into physiological and biological processes in the animal. The students’ individual research will be supervised by a coach with expertise in animal sciences. Students will also be encouraged to meet with animal sciences professional within HAS green academy as well as a large network of partners in the sector. These professionals and partners look forward to contributing as guest lecturers and facilitating excursions. Lastly, students will actively work on the development of professional competencies, e.g. advisory skills, providing information, collaboration in group work and constructive participation in the public debate as an animal science professional.