Cerrar Mapa

Master in

Animal nutrition

Next edition: 1st part: 27 September 2021 – July 2022 / 2nd part: September 2022 – June 2023

Master in

Animal nutrition

General information on the Unit

ECTS: 15
Contact hours: 190 (108 lectures, 82 practicals)
Personal work hours: 185
Character: Compulsory
Venue: Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza and laboratories of the Department of Animal Production and Food Science of the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Zaragoza
-  Developed during the first academic year of the Master, at the end of the first semester and the beginning of second semester.
-  The assessment of this Unit consists of two exams carried out during the second semester.
Requisites and permanence
There are no previous requisites
Learning methods
Combination of theoretical and practical sessions consisting of the analysis of case studies, laboratory work, use of computer software and technical visits.
Lecturers may deliver the topics in Spanish, in English or in French. In the latter two cases, simultaneous interpretation into Spanish is provided. The documents supplied by the lecturers may also be written in Spanish, English or French.


Presentation of the Unit

In this Unit, the concepts, techniques and methods learnt in the two previous units are applied to determine practical feeding strategies in the different livestock species. The student learns to establish the most appropriate feeding in the different stages of production, both from a technical and economic perspective. The treatment of the topics considers the incidence of feeding in end product quality. The practical activities train the student in ration calculation and feed formulation skills, as well as quality and safety analysis of animal products. The technical visits provide first-hand knowledge of the feeding strategies and methods practised in large livestock firms acknowledged for their good codes of practice and production quality and safety.


Context within the syllabus

It is important for animal nutrition today to maximize production and adapt to the needs of each livestock species, to the different production types (milk, meat, eggs) and to the production constraints, all from an economic perspective. Furthermore, the type of feeding strongly influences food quality, which is a main concern for consumers together with food safety.

Subsequently, students will complete their training in this field in the Unit “Professional training stage related to animal nutrition”, wherein students will have a practical opportunity to learn and evaluate the feeding strategies used by prestigious livestock firms.


Specific competences

  • ­SC1 Knowing the characteristics of different feeds and their components and how to evaluate their nutritional value.
  • SC2 Understanding the processes involved in digestion and the metabolism of nutrients, estimating animal nutrient requirements and calculating and controlling feed intake.
  • SC4 Using the methodology deployed in the evaluation of quality and safety standards in foods and compound feeds and animal origin products.
  • SC5 Determining optimum feeding, from a technical and economic point of view, for a certain livestock species in given production conditions.
  • SC6 Understanding the relationships between animal nutrition, the environment and animal health and welfare.
  • SC7 Developing feeding strategies with a favourable influence on end product quality and animal health and welfare, minimizing environmental impacts ensuring the sustainability of productions.

General competences

  • ­GC1 Integrating scientific and technical knowledge and applying them discerningly.
  • ­GC3 Analyzing results or strategies and elaborating conclusions which contribute to clarify the problems and to find possible solutions.
  • ­GC6 Team-working and promoting exchange and collaboration attitudes with other students, researchers and professionals.


Objectives of learning

This Unit has three fundamental objectives. The first is to provide sound knowledge of compound feed formulation and ration calculation for animals according to species, individual development stage, production purpose and context. The second objective is to learn how to develop feeding strategies to guarantee end-product quality, therefore the student must be provided with in-depth knowledge of the quality standards for food of animal origin, their relation with human health and quality assurance systems. The third is to guarantee a practical training on the methodology and techniques used in quality and safety assessment of animal products.


Learning outcomes

Importance of the learning outcomes acquired in this Unit

Animal production should be highly efficient whilst covering market requirements, where consumers increasingly demand greater food quality and safety. Therefore it is fundamental for the animal nutrition professional to know how to optimize livestock feeding in the different production phases to obtain maximum yields, and at the same time understand and know how to manage possible modifications in animal food products caused by the type of feeding. One of the possible professional opportunities for this type of expert is the livestock farm environment, providing recommendations for the definition of feeding strategies for different purposes, and manage and assess end-product quality, which may lead to further opportunities in the meat or dairy industry.

Learning outcomes

The student, at the end of this Unit:

  • Is able to determine the optimal feeding systems according to the species, biological cycle, production type and production system.
  • Formulates feeds and develops feeding strategies.
  • Knows the animal nutrition factors influencing animal product quality, and is able to modify it according to market requirements.
  • Knows how to address aspects linked to animal food safety and for quality assurance and product traceability systems.
  • Detects contaminants and pathogens in animal products.
  • Assesses the economic implications of different nutrition strategies.


  • General aspects about animal products quality and safety
    • Animal products and human health
    • Functional compounds in animal products
    • Quality criteria: nutritional, sensorial and cultural aspects
    • On-farm hygiene
    • Safety issues: transfer of contaminants from feed to food, maximum limit of residues (MLR), biotic agents, prevention and control
    • Quality assurance systems. Traceability in the food chain
  • Feeding for milk production (dairy cattle, dairy sheep, dairy goats)
    • Biological cycles and production systems in ruminants
    • Lactation curve, milk yield and milk composition
    • Modification of milk quality and dairy products through nutrition
    • Feeding strategies and rationing for young and adult animals
    • Prevention of digestive and metabolic disorders
    • Economic considerations
  • Feeding for meat production in ruminants (beef cattle and small ruminants)
    • Biological cycles and production systems
    • Non-nutritional factors influencing carcass and meat quality
    • Modification of carcass and meat quality through nutrition
    • Feeding strategies and rationing for young and adult animals
    • Prevention of digestive and metabolic disorders
    • Economic considerations
  • Feeding for meat production in monogastrics (pigs, poultry and rabbits)
    • Production systems
    • Non-nutritional factors influencing carcass and meat quality
    • Modification of carcass and meat quality through nutrition
    • Feeding strategies and rationing for young and adult animals
    • Prevention of digestive and metabolic disorders
    • Economic considerations
  • Feeding for egg production
    • Production systems
    • Egg production performance and biosynthesis of egg components
    • Modification of egg quality through nutrition
    • Feeding strategies and rationing for young and adult animals
    • Prevention of digestive and metabolic disorders
    • Economic considerations
  • Fish nutrition and feeding
  • Case studies
  • Practicals
  • Technical visits


Learning activities

Learning activity 1: Lectures combined with applied examples
ECTS: 10.4
Hours: 260
Percentage of contact: 41.5%

Learning activity 2: Case studies. They are based on visits to dairy cattle farm and meat sheep farm (see learning activity 5, sections 1 and 4). The objective of the activity is for students to learn to assess feeding strategies used in real livestock farms and to make a critical analysis of rationing in different production cases. Students should present in each case a brief individual report whose conclusions are based on the information received during the visit and the analysis made.
ECTS: 0.4
Hours: 10
Percentage of contact: 60%

Learning activity 3: Laboratory practicals to:
(1) Detect residues (antibiotics, pesticides, etc.) in animal products (meat, milk and honey).
(2) Identify biotic agents (Salmonella, Listeria, Escherichia, funghi, yeasts, etc.) in animal products.
(3) Assess the quality of different types of cheese in a commented tasting session.
(4) Assess carcasses by photographic patterns, morphological measurements and dissection of representative anatomical parts of the sheep carcass. Assess the instrumental quality of ruminant meat (acidity, colour, texture, composition) as well as the organoleptic quality by sensorial analysis.
(5) Assess the quality of monogastric meat and different cured and cooked meat products by instrumental and sensorial analysis.
(6) Assess egg quality by analysis of the weight, shell colour and quality, and albumen quality.
ECTS: 1.5
Hours: 38
Percentage of contact: 60%

Learning activity 4: Computer practicals to calculate rations in ruminant milk and meat production and feed formulation in monogastric meat production and egg production. Students work in pairs.
ECTS: 1.3
Hours: 33
Percentage of contact: 60%

Learning activity 5: Technical visits to complement the learning from lectures and in the laboratory illustrating the real aoplication of methods, techniques and strategies. The visits and their particular learning objectives are:
(1) Dairy cattle farm with processing unit. Learning objective: to become acquainted with the real environment of a large highly technified dairy cattle farm, with its livestock feeding and management strategies, and cheese-making processes within the context of a strict quality management system.
(2) Intensive dairy sheep farm. Learning objective: to become acquainted with the feeding and management strategies of an intensive sheep dairy farm with a mechanical milking parlour.
(3) Intensive goat farm. Learning objective:  to become acquainted with the feeding and management strategies of an intensive goat farm with a mechanical milking parlour, as well as with the cheese-making process.
(4) Reference laboratory for the dairy sector. Learning objective: to become acquainted with the activities of an authorized reference laboratory for the certification of sanitary and hygiene quality in milk, especially those referring to raw milk analysis for quality-based payment, milk recording and sanitary controls, and analysis of dairy products and other agrofood matrices.
(5) Beef cattle feedlot. Learning objective: analyse the intensive production system, growth and fattening feeding strategies, and productive parameters.
(6) Sheep cooperative group. Learning objective: to become acquainted with the activities of a large sheep farm providing services to farmers related to sheep feeding (products, materials and equipment) with a production/transformation/marketing integrated system of traditional and innovative sheep products within a context of strict food quality and safety control.
(7) Intensive pig farm. Learning objective: to gain practical experience in the different feeding systems used on the farm for sows in the pregnancy, farrowing and lactation phases, and for piglets during the weaning and fattening phases.
(8) Firm specializing in rabbit selection and breeding. Learning objective: to discuss the different feeding strategies for sires and dams, for females in the pregnancy, parturition and lactation phases, and for young rabbits during the weaning and fattening phases.
(9) Laying hen farm. Learning objective: to become acquainted with the specific type of facilities for this type of farm as well as feeding and management strategies.
ECTS: 1.4
Hours: 34
Percentage of contact: 100%

Assessment methods

Assessment system 1: Written exams, composed of questions provided by the different lecturers of the Unit. The exam is made up of concrete questions requiring a short answer, being possible also multiple-choice tests. The exam assesses both the content of theoretical part and the understanding of case studies and laboratory practicals.
In the written exams, the short-answer questions are marked according to the technical and conceptual precision of the answer, and to the reasoning approach. The multiple-choice tests are marked according to the number of correct answers, rating negatively the wrong answers chosen within the same question.
Weighting: 86% of the final score of the Unit

Assessment system 2: Global assessment of the case studies by the tutoring lecturers based on a written document prepared individually by each student.
The analysis conducted and pertinence of conclusions will be assessed.
Weighting: 4% of the final score of the Unit

Assessment system 3: Global assessment of the computer practicals by the tutoring lecturers.
Understanding of the methodology and quality of results will be assessed. The score will be the same for both components of each pair.
Weighting: 10% of the final score of the Unit

Assessment system 4: Direct assessment by the lecturers tutoring the laboratory practicals and the technical visits. The marking is not numerical but a "pass" or "fail". In the case of laboratory practicals, with a "pass", the student may take the written exam.
For practical sessions, the understanding of the process and the interpretation of analytical results will be assessed. For the visits, active participation and compliance with previously established guidelines for process observation will be assessed.
Weighting: -



Lecturers from the University of Zaragoza

Faculty of Veterinary Science, Department of Animal Production and Food Science:
Verónica ALONSO (valonso@unizar.es)
Agustín ARIÑO (aarino@unizar.es)
Susana BAYARRI (sbayarri@unizar.es)
José Antonio BELTRÁN (jbeltran@unizar.es)
Miguel CALVO (calvoreb@unizar.es)
María del Mar CAMPO (marimar@unizar.es)
Juan José CARRAMIÑAMA (carramin@unizar.es)
Ricardo CEPERO (eggmeat@unizar.es)
José Antonio GUADA (jguada@unizar.es)
José LuÍs OLLETA (olleta@unizar.es)
Consuelo PÉREZ (conperez@unizar.es)
Carlos SAÑUDO (csanudo@unizar.es)

Lecturers from other institutions

Pere ALBERTI, CITA-GA, Zaragoza, Spain
Inés ARANA, Univ. Pública Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
Gerado CAJA, Univ. Autònoma Barcelona, Spain
Sergio CALSAMIGLIA, Univ. Autònoma Barcelona, Spain
Rosa CARABAÑO, Univ. Politécnica Madrid, Spain
Jean-Yves DOURMAD, INRA, Saint-Gilles L’Hermitage, France
Alfred FERRET, Univ. Autònoma Barcelona, Spain
Gonzalo GONZÁLEZ MATEOS, Univ. Politécnica Madrid, Spain
Miguel JOVER, Univ. Politécnica Valencia, Spain
Manuela JUÁREZ, Instituto del Frío (CSIC-IF), Madrid, Spain
Clemente LÓPEZ-BOTE, Univ. Autónoma Madrid, Spain
Bruno MARTIN, INRA, Saint-Genes Champanelle, France
Susana MARTÍN-ORUE, Univ. Autònoma Barcelona, Spain
Koldo OSORO, SERIDA, Villaviciosa, Spain
José F. PÉREZ HERNÁNDEZ, Univ. Autònoma Barcelona, Spain
Oriol RIBÓ, EFSA, Parma, Italy
Manuel SÁNCHEZ RODRÍGUEZ, Univ. Córdoba, Spain
Bill WEISS, Ohio State University, Wooster, USA