The Postgraduate Program in Poultry Health Science is an innovative three-year program that provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become experts in poultry health science. It is offered as an online course supported by a total of five weeks of on-site practical training and two weeks of off-site internship. The online and distance learning system offers students the flexibility to study from anywhere at any time via the Internet.
This program is an ideal opportunity for aspiring professionals to gain expertise in poultry science and related fields such as poultry science, production management, biosecurity, nutrition, and gut health. The curriculum provides a comprehensive overview of all major topics related to poultry health sciences, making it the perfect choice for those who are passionate about academic education and poultry.
- Program of Study: YEAR 1
- Courses: Year 1
- Study Program: YEAR 2
- Program of Study: YEAR 3
- 1. Poultry behavior and welfare
- 2. Food safety
- 3. External internship and practical training
Program of Study: YEAR 1
Credits: 10; Total student workload: 300 hours.
The first year of study covers all the basic principles of poultry science, including embryology, anatomy, physiology, immunology, breeding, and genetics, in addition to further studies on topics such as poultry production management and husbandry. In addition, students learn the importance of biosecurity measures to ensure optimal animal welfare and gain a better understanding of gut health through nutritional studies.
While studying in this postgraduate poultry health science program, students will also gain an in-depth background in avian molecular pathology and diagnosis. They will gain insight into how diseases can be detected early so they can be effectively treated before they spread through flocks.
In this part of the course, students can gain more detailed knowledge in the field by studying more specific topics such as genetic diseases relevant to poultry production, viral immunology, emerging diseases, bacterial taxonomy, diagnosis with PCR techniques, epidemiology and control strategies, food sanitation regulations, etc. In addition to these topics, workshops and seminars will be offered to provide students with a better understanding of how these techniques and concepts can be applied in practice.
- Learn about all the basics of poultry science in the first year of this program.
- Study topics such as poultry production management, husbandry and biosecurity measures.
- Gain an in-depth background in avian molecular pathology and diagnosis.
- Prevent diseases from spreading through flocks by learning how to detect them early on.
External internship: 2 weeks
In addition to this part of the program, students benefit from a two-week internship that allows them to gain hands-on experience on poultry farms or in research facilities related to this field. This allows them to better understand how their theoretical knowledge can be applied in practice. During these two weeks, they have access to experienced professionals in the field who can answer any questions they may have about animal husbandry practices or scientific research projects related to poultry health sciences that they were previously tasked with during their studies.
Practical training: 5 weeks
At the conclusion of their studies, students complete a five-week field internship where they can directly apply what they have learned in lectures and seminars to real-life scenarios to further deepen their understanding of key concepts in the field. They have the opportunity to observe experienced farmers working with live birds while they themselves can participate under supervision. This builds their confidence so that when it comes time for their off-site internship later in their studies (as mentioned earlier), they are prepared for any situations that might arise during that time.
Courses: Year 1
1. Introduction: embryology, anatomy, physiology, immunology, breeding and genetics.
– Embryology is the study of the development of an embryo from a fertilised egg to a fully developed organism. Year 1 students learn about the sequence of events that occur during embryological development and how these events can be influenced by environmental factors such as nutrition and temperature. They also learn about common congenital malformations that can occur due to genetic or environmental causes.
– Anatomy focuses on understanding the structure and function of various body systems relevant to assessing poultry health in the field. Students will become familiar with cell morphology and learn about different tissue types such as epithelial tissue, connective tissue, muscle tissue, and nervous tissue in birds. They will also study gross anatomy and learn about common anatomical structures such as bones and muscles in avian species, as well as internal organs such as the heart, lungs, and digestive system.
– Physiology provides the foundation for how cells, tissues, and organs in birds work together to form a functioning organism. In Year 1, students will develop an understanding of basic physiological processes such as respiration, digestion, circulation, and excretory mechanisms. In addition, they will explore how hormones are secreted by endocrine glands and how they influence behavior in both wild and domesticated bird species.
– Immunology studies how the immune system responds to foreign invaders, such as parasites or bacteria, to protect the host organism from infection or disease. Year 1 students will study how white blood cells are part of this response, gaining insight into vaccinations against specific pathogens that affect poultry production.
– Breeding is an important aspect of poultry production that requires knowledge of genetics and molecular biology techniques used for selection purposes to improve bird performance for various traits such as growth rate or disease resistance. Students studying poultry science in Year 1 will learn about genetic variation among individuals within a species through the study of genes responsible for specific traits, associated inheritance patterns, and methods of genetic manipulation, such as genetic engineering or cloning.
2. Poultry production, management, husbandry & biosecurity
Poultry production systems and management play an important role in ensuring the health and welfare of poultry. By understanding the management practices that contribute to optimal growth and productivity, poultry producers can produce safe and nutritious food for their customers. Different types of housing can be used when raising poultry, such as cages, houses, or aviaries. The type of housing chosen depends on the species being raised and the climate in which they need to thrive.
Feeding is one of the most important components of successful poultry production. Proper nutrition is critical for maximum growth and development, egg production, and overall health. Feed should consist of grains, protein sources such as soybean meal or fish meal, vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health. It is also important to ensure that the birds always have access to water to drink, bathe or cool off on hot days.
To protect against animal diseases, birds must be kept properly. This includes regularly cleaning the coop of droppings and providing a clean environment free of dirt and debris that could cause disease in the birds. This also includes proper sanitation practices such as disinfecting feeders and drinkers after each use and implementing parasite control strategies to reduce worm burdens in the birds.
Biosecurity measures should also be implemented to prevent the spread of disease between animals within a herd or facility and from other nearby properties. These include limiting access to visitors who might bring pathogens, wearing protective clothing such as gloves and boots when handling different herds, avoiding contact between different species or farms whenever possible, and washing hands after handling animals or their surroundings.
Vaccination plays an important role in biosecurity by helping to reduce disease outbreaks within herds while reducing the use of antibiotics throughout the farm. Vaccines protect against common viral diseases found in many species, such as Marek’s disease (MD) and infectious bursa disease (IBD). They can be injected into individual birds or added directly to feed lines for entire flocks, so all birds are equally protected regardless of age or size.
Strict biosecurity protocols should also include isolating new arrivals from existing populations until it can be determined if they are carriers of communicable diseases before mixing them with birds from the flock upon arrival at the facility. In addition, all personnel caring for birds should practice good personal hygiene. This includes washing hands between shifts, changing clothing between tasks involving different animals/facilities, and wearing appropriate protective clothing when caring for birds to minimize the risk of contamination within a husbandry system.
Routine monitoring processes are also important in maintaining biosecurity standards on poultry farms. Regular inspections should take place both inside the housing units (checking feed lines/ventilation systems/drinkers, etc.) and outside (grass cutting/weed removal, etc.). Knowing what activities have taken place around your property will allow you to quickly identify potential risks and act accordingly in emergencies when unforeseen circumstances occur elsewhere that could affect the biosecurity status of your own operation, such as an outbreak elsewhere.
Finally, when managing a disease outbreak, it can be critical to have an action plan in place in advance. This includes making sure all employees know exactly what their responsibilities are in such cases (coordinate veterinary visits/disinfection procedures, etc.), enact movement restrictions both on and off the premises (quarantine areas), track contacts with infected individuals/stock, etc., establish protocols for the safe disposal of diseased carcasses (burial), etc. By following the above principles, you can largely protect your farm from the potential hazards posed by pathogens inside and outside its walls.
3. Intestinal health and nutrition
The Gut Health and Nutrition course provides a comprehensive overview of poultry nutrition and gut health, focusing on the relationships between feed, microbiome and immune system. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the various components of poultry nutrition, such as common feeds and nutrient requirements for poultry production. They will also be able to identify various factors that affect gut health and their impact on poultry production.
In addition, students will learn the mode of action, efficacy and safety of various additives used in feeds to improve gut health. Not only will they learn how to develop a diagnostic plan for intervention that maximizes return on investment, but they will also gain valuable insight into the most effective strategies for improving gut health in poultry production.
The course begins with an introduction to nutritional needs in poultry production, such as energy, protein sources, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It then explains the use of feed additives designed to improve digestive efficiency by altering the microbial composition in the gut. It explains how these additives alter the composition of the microbiota to reduce pathogenic bacteria while increasing beneficial microorganisms that can act as natural antibiotics. It also covers the use of prebiotics and probiotics to improve digestive processes in the intestinal tract of chickens, helping them to grow healthily under a variety of conditions.
It then discusses feeds commonly used in poultry nutrition, such as corn, wheat or soybean meal, which provide both macronutrients, such as protein or carbohydrates, and micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, that are important for healthy growth. It will be explained how these feeds are affected by external factors such as environmental conditions or the presence of mycotoxins, which can reduce nutritional value and trigger bacterial changes that lead to diseases such as coccidiosis or salmonellosis.
In addition to studying the effects of external factors on the digestive process in the chicken intestine, students will learn various strategies to improve the intestinal environment to support growth performance by improving nutrient absorption from feed.
This includes understanding the role of immuno nutrition strategies that aim to modulate the chicken immune system to function optimally even when exposed to stressful conditions associated with modern housing systems, such as overcrowding or limited access to outdoor areas that result in reduced food intake, or poor sanitary conditions that lead to increased bacterial loads in the intestinal tract, thereby reducing the chickens’ resistance to infections caused by Salmonella spp, Eimeria spp, Campylobacter jejuni, etc.
In addition, participants in this course will gain detailed knowledge of potential welfare effects associated with inadequate nutrition, such as metabolic disorders (elevated blood glucose levels), liver damage due to inadequate nutrient intake, skin and feather problems due to low availability of essential fatty acids in the ration, bone damage due to a lack of macro elements (calcium and phosphorus), etc.
After teaching general animal welfare concepts, you will explore the potential impact of specific practices along the production chain, such as refrigeration during transport, which can cause severe stress that damages bird physiology (increased lactate levels) and ultimately reduces growth rate and laying performance if not properly managed.
Finally, this course will focus on the development of a diagnostic plan based on the results of clinical examinations as well as laboratory analyses related to feed validation. The main purpose of this plan is to help farmers identify early signs that indicate possible deficiencies in certain nutrients so that appropriate corrective action can be taken to prevent further economic losses associated with lower herd productivity.
Study Program: YEAR 2
The Postgraduate Program in Poultry Health Sciences is a three-year program designed to provide students with an understanding of poultry diseases and how to prevent and treat them. This degree program is offered as an online course, with five weeks of on-site internship for hands-on learning and two weeks of off-site internship to gain professional experience.
The second year of this program is 10 credits and requires 300 hours of student work throughout the year. The topics covered in this year are Diseases of Poultry, Treatment and Prevention, and Scientific Methods and Reasoning.
- Learn from experts in the poultry health field
- Benefit from an online learning format that fits your schedule
- Gain practical experience with on-site and off-site internships
- Earn a degree that will improve your career prospects
1. Diseases of poultry
Diseases studied include epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptoms and lesions, diagnosis, treatment and prevention for both infectious (bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic diseases) and non-infectious diseases (nutritional, metabolic developmental disorders, intoxications). Students are taught the essential principles of biosecurity, immunisation procedures, vaccine development, and the application of epidemiology to understand and control poultry diseases.
Diseases in poultry can range from infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites to non-infectious problems such as nutritional disorders, developmental problems, and metabolic disorders. Regardless of the cause, these diseases can have a significant impact on poultry producers around the world. Poultry diseases are responsible for significant economic losses due to bird deaths or reduced performance and also pose a public health risk.
Types of diseases in poultry
Bacterial diseases are a common type of infectious agent that causes disease in poultry. These include avian colibacillosis, which is caused by Escherichia coli and causes a range of symptoms, including respiratory disease, necrotic enteritis, airsacculitis, and egg yolk peritonitis. Poultry mycoplasmosis is caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum and results in coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge, as well as decreased egg production in laying hens. Another bacterial infection affecting poultry is salmonellosis, an intestinal infection caused by Salmonella that results in diarrhea in young birds and egg contamination in laying hens.
Viral causes of disease in poultry
Viruses can also cause disease in poultry, ranging from mild upper respiratory infections to more serious conditions such as avian influenza (AI). Avian influenza is particularly important because it can spread both within a flock and between different flocks or even countries, depending on the strain. Symptoms can vary by strain, but typically include respiratory distress with coughing/sneezing, depression, decreased production, and in some cases, death. Newcastle disease (ND) is another virus that affects poultry and can cause respiratory symptoms, as well as neurological symptoms such as drooping wings or tremors.
Fungal diseases in poultry
Fungal diseases are another type of infectious agent that can affect poultry. The most common form is aspergillosis, which is caused by Aspergillus species and results in respiratory signs ranging from mucosal inflammation to airsacculitis and lethargy. Candidiasis caused by Candida albicans typically results in lesions around the eyes and beak, increasing susceptibility to secondary bacterial infections. Histomoniasis (blackhead) is an intestinal infection that primarily affects turkeys. However, other species may be affected if they eat contaminated feed or drink water infected with eggs of Histomonas meleagridis.
Non-infectious causes of disease
Non-infectious causes of disease include nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin A deficiency, which leads to night blindness and increased risk of secondary infections; growth disorders due to genetic dwarfism; metabolic disorders such as gout, in which uric acid accumulates, leading to swollen joints and lameness; poisoning from plant material containing toxins such as nitrates and heavy metals such as cadmium, which can cause impairment or death.
In summary, there are many types of diseases that affect poultry, from infectious agents to non-infectious problems, which require careful management practices for prevention and control, but also rapid diagnosis and treatment when necessary.
2. Treatment and prevention
In Treatment and Prevention, students will learn about biosecurity systems used to control or contain the spread or introduction of harmful organisms into a controlled environment, as well as methods to diagnose infections in order to initiate timely treatments, such as immunisation procedures that involve the injection or administration of vaccines to build immunity to specific strains. You will also explore the development and application of vaccines that help fight infections by altering host-pathogen interactions, epidemiological studies aimed at identifying risk factors associated with pathogens, and strategies for general disease control. All of these approaches help farmers protect their herds from disease while meeting food safety standards.
3. Scientific methods & reasoning
In this course, students will learn the basic and applied principles of poultry research and routine diagnostic methods. It will also develop their scientific reasoning skills.
The scientific reasoning and communication section will cover topics such as data analysis, processing and interpretation, writing a research project proposal and scientific manuscript, and presenting scientific data.
In addition, the scientific methodology and diagnostics chapters will introduce students to various methods commonly used in poultry research and diagnostics. The course is worth 3 credits with a student workload of 90 hours.
Program of Study: YEAR 3
As the demand for ethically produced and responsibly sourced animal products continues to increase, the importance of poultry welfare and behavior becomes increasingly important.
- Learn about poultry behavior and welfare
- Understand poultry production practices
- Improve animal welfare on poultry farms
1. Poultry behavior and welfare
In this course, students will learn about poultry behavior and welfare, as well as standards for keeping poultry in laboratories and how consumer perceptions can influence poultry production practices. This module is designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of poultry behavior and welfare so they can help improve animal welfare practices on poultry farms and give producers an advantage in market access.
What students will learn
During this course, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of a range of topics related to poultry behavior and welfare. Students will become familiar with theories such as ethology (the study of animal behavior) and naturalistic observation techniques. They will also learn how to assess various aspects of chicken health and welfare under laboratory conditions. In addition, this course discusses the impact of consumer perceptions on good animal welfare on farms.
Study of Behavioral Theories
The study of behavioral theories is an important part of this module for which students should be prepared. Ethology is an important focus here – it includes the study of evolutionary history, communication between animals, interactions between species, and other related topics such as instinctive behavior in chickens. By studying these theories in more detail, students will develop an understanding of why chickens behave the way they do when exposed to certain stimuli.
Assessment for Animal Welfare Standards
Another important component of Year 3: Poultry Behavior & Welfare is assessing the health status of chickens while ensuring that good welfare standards are maintained under laboratory conditions. Through hands-on exercises conducted under supervision or using simulated cases where appropriate, students learn how to examine birds for common diseases or signs of stress, such as feather loss or injuries caused by overcrowding or poor housing conditions, while adhering to accepted ethical standards under the Animal Use Regulations (AURs).
The influence of consumer perceptions on production practices
The way consumers perceive poultry production can have a significant impact on farming practices. A poor reputation can result in less access to market for producers who do not take steps to ensure that good animal welfare standards are maintained on their farms. In this course, students will learn about the potential consequences associated with consumer attitudes toward production systems and their willingness to pay more for products from producers who provide better animal welfare conditions than those from intensive systems.
For example, surveys of consumers are often conducted to find out what kind of information they think would be beneficial in making purchasing decisions about products from different sources – such data can help farmers figure out how to further improve the attractiveness of their products to potential customers.
Understanding and applying legislation to animal welfare protocols
During the module, students will learn not only about consumer perceptions of animal welfare standards, but also about current legislation related to proper care protocols for animals kept in laboratory environments – such as the Animal Use Regulations (AURs). These regulations make animal health and welfare a top priority by providing guidelines that must be followed in any form of experimentation.
They cover areas such as housing requirements, feeding schedules, etc., and ensure that all laboratory facilities meet the established criteria. It is important that students understand how best to comply with applicable laws when conducting animal experiments so that no harm is done to animals and yet the desired results are obtained from experiments conducted solely by ethical means.
Improving quality management systems in agriculture
Another aspect covered in this module is the improvement of quality management systems on farms. This involves food safety systems such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) or ISO 22000, which are now widely used in many industries, including agriculture. Knowing how they work helps farmers identify areas on their farms where improvements can be made by constantly reviewing each step of production – with the goal of reducing risk factors associated with foodborne illnesses resulting from injuries or illnesses of chickens kept in substandard conditions. It is expected that graduates will be able to apply the knowledge gained in this module to their own careers upon graduation.
This will enable them to contribute not only professionally but also personally to the improvement of the agricultural industry worldwide.
2. Food safety
Introduction to Food Safety
Food safety is an ever-growing concern in our society. With the explosive growth of the world’s population, food has become increasingly accessible and available. This has led to an increased risk of food contamination and foodborne illness outbreaks. Therefore, it is important to understand the importance of food safety and the role it plays in protecting consumers from the dangers of contaminated food. The Year 3 Poultry Health Science curriculum is designed to teach students the essential steps needed to maintain safe food production from “farm to table.”
Benefits of good food safety practices
Good food safety practices have numerous benefits that can help reduce or even eliminate contamination within the supply chain. Key benefits include increased consumer confidence in food and overall product safety. Good safety practices also help prevent spoilage by controlling bacteria, viruses and other micro organisms that can cause potentially dangerous contamination if left unchecked. In addition, implementing effective food safety protocols can also result in lower costs due to fewer recalls and associated fees or charges due to health violations or contaminated products.
Poultry Health Science Program Curriculum
The curriculum of the Year 3 Poultry Health Science program is designed to provide students with knowledge of poultry breeding and slaughterhouse processes and control measures to reduce hazards associated with microbiological problems at each stage of the production environment, from feed milling to processing to final product line packaging.
Students will learn relevant regulations at the national and international levels that should be considered when evaluating potential risks associated with poultry production; sanitation principles; biosecurity; management systems; Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP); cleaning and disinfection protocols; pre-harvest programs; post-harvest handling techniques; sanitation standards; best practices for inspection methods; traceability systems; residue monitoring strategies; export requirements; and other topics related to the safe management of poultry production systems.
Expanding the student knowledge base
This course aims not only to expand students’ knowledge base on these topics, but also to develop skills on how to put them into practice. Through this course, students will gain insight into current trends in the poultry industry, including technological advances, nutritional requirements, disease management strategies, and more, with an emphasis on understanding their impact on poultry production systems to ensure desirable quality standards for consumption in commercial markets.
The goal of this course is for students to gain a deeper understanding of concepts related to poultry production systems to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to produce safer food from “farm to table”, protecting consumers from potential harm from contaminated products while increasing confidence in those same products.
3. External internship and practical training
Cornerstone of the Poultry Health Science Program – Externship.
Externship is an important cornerstone of the Poultry Health Sciences postgraduate program. It provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their acquired knowledge in the field of poultry health sciences and to demonstrate their analytical, synthesis, and problem-solving skills. Students can pursue and participate in poultry research and poultry health and disease surveillance during the course. There are several options for where such an internship can be completed. It may be at a university or a research institution, whether in the public or private sector. Also, there may be an opportunity to intern with a poultry health service.
Advantages of an external internship
Completing an external internship during the poultry health science postgraduate program has many benefits for students. They get the opportunity to directly apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-life situations. This is invaluable experience that will be useful in future professional endeavours. Participation in such projects also brings students into contact with professionals outside of the school, which could open up employment opportunities later in life. Working on challenging assignments can lead to possible publication of one’s work, which can open up new opportunities for further study or career moves if, for example, one aspires to a teaching position later in life.
Essential components of a successful externship
Externships provide hands-on experience and real-world training that allows students to develop their skills without entering the job market prematurely or unprepared.
For this reason, there are certain components that are essential to the successful completion of any externship.
These include clear expectations between the student and their mentor/supervisor, but also open communication throughout the time working together on the project(s). It is also important that participants in such programs set achievable goals with realistic deadlines so that they can measure their progress. At the same time, they should receive regular feedback from their mentors and be able to promptly resolve any issues that may arise along the way.
Finally, it’s important to build meaningful relationships with supervisors and colleagues during the internship, as these connections can prove crucial in gaining a foothold in the competitive job market after graduation – not only for potential referrals, but also because you’ve built trust between previously unknown people, allowing you to significantly expand your network.
Requirements for internships
In order for a postgraduate student in the Poultry Health Science program to successfully complete their internship, certain requirements must be met in addition to the internship itself. These include the submission/production of a scientific report presenting the acquired knowledge in the field of poultry health sciences, the ability to critically reflect and problem solve, and (if applicable) demonstrate analytical and synthesising skills during exams/tests.
In summary, it is critical that you are aware of all aspects related to completing your internship, whether you plan ahead or need help managing everything during this time. For most students, this will likely mean putting in significant extra effort and resources beyond what was required at the beginning of the program. So being prepared will help immensely in facing potential challenges or simply finding ways to make the best use of available resources while staying organised throughout and coming out stronger at the end.