MOOC Animal Breeding and Genetics



Within this project we develop freely available online teaching material (Massive Open Online Course – MOOC) in the field of Animal breeding and genetics. The material can be found on the online education platform EdX. The courses are developed by teachers of Wageningen University, Animal Breeding and Genomics group, and the MOOC production team of Wageningen University.

The launch of the first MOOC, dealing with the basics of setting up breeding programs and calculating breeding values, has taken place on September 19, 2017 and the content can be found on:!

A follow-up on this MOOC will be developed in 2018-2019. This course will mostly deal with the evaluation and improvement of breeding programs.

Both courses are developed with financial support and input from the Koepon Foundation ( and the African Chicken Genetic Gains project (


Project team

Hans Komen

John Bastiaansen

Dieuwertje Lont


Course description

Animal breeding involves the selective breeding of domestic animals with the intention to improve desirable (and heritable) qualities in the next generation. This course introduces the steps required to design a program for breeding animals and teaches the genetic and statistical concepts that are needed to build a solid breeding program.

In this course, you will learn how an animal breeder balances the need for improving the desirable qualities of the animals with the need for genetic diversity and long-term sustainability of the breeding program. You will learn about the scientific concepts in genetics that are applied in animal breeding, as well as how to apply the models and computational methods that are used in animal breeding.

Professionals working with animals will be able to use the knowledge from this course to understand the impact of breeding on animal populations and use genetic principles to make their decisions. This course will allow you an advanced starting point for further studies, such as M.Sc. level courses in breeding.

Knowledge of statistics at a 2nd or 3rd year university level is needed to follow this course successfully.