Adaptation, Health and Behaviour

Animal health and behaviour are becoming increasingly important when talking about sustainability of animal production systems. This specialisation utilises a multidisciplinary, animal-level approach focusing on the effects of the animal’s environment on its health.

The specialisation in a nutshell

The specialisation Adaptation, Health and Behaviour studies the effects of the immediate environment on physiological responses of individual animals, and what these responses mean for animal health and welfare. Immunological status, energy metabolism, thermoregulation, reproduction and behaviour are major responses of animals, being studied in this specialisation.

This specialisation has six thesis tracks:

- Adaptation Physiology (ADP)

- Animal Nutrition (ANU)

- Animal Production Systems (APS)

- Behavioural Ecology (BHE)

- Experimental Zoology (EZO)

- Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology (QVE)

Below you can read more about the courses provided in the specialisation Adaptation, Health and Behaviour. The online study handbook provides detailed information.

Courses ADP

Health, Welfare and Management (ADP30306)

This course deals with multidisciplinary aspects of the functioning of animals, focusing on a selected number of themes.

Adaptation Physiology (ADP30806)

This course goes more in depth into specific mechanisms of adaptation physiology (e.g. immunology, behaviour, reproduction or energy metabolism, including social and ethical aspects). Students will define a proper scientific work plan, based on a hypothesis gained from a literature review.

Sensor data in Animal Sciences (ADP301306)

Sensor data is increasingly used by commercial livestock farmers, feeding companies, breeding companies, and the scientific community. In this course, sensors in animal production systems will be discussed, including their use in science and for commercial purposes, their constraints, and future potential. This course prepares students in animal science for sensor data analysis and interpretation in their future career.

Courses ANU

Animal Nutrition and Physiology (ANU30806)

This MSc-course uses three (practical) modules to provide you with basic knowledge on nutrient analysis, digestion physiology and the physiology of nutrient utilisation in animals.

Nutrient Dynamics (ANU30306)

In this course, knowledge in the area of digestion and utilization of nutrients is addressed more in depth and quantified.

Courses APS

Sustainability Assessment of Animal Systems (APS30306)

During this course  you will analyse core issues related to sustainable animal production. You will learn to apply various methods to tackle complex problems.

Future Livestock Systems (APS31306)

In this course you will think about and explore future possibilities for livestock production.

Courses BHE

Health, Welfare and Management (ADP30306)

This course deals with multidisciplinary aspects of the functioning of animals, focusing on a selected number of themes.

Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare (BHE31306)

In this course you learn to link concepts of animal behaviour to welfare issues in modern husbandry of livestock and companion animals.

Courses EZO

Functional Zoology (EZO30806):

This course focuses on the theoretical basics and practical experiments in the quantitative analysis of the functioning of animals.

Developmental Biology of Animals (EZO30306):

This course teaches you how to design, execute and analyze experiments
in the field of developmental biology, related to the research lines of the
Experimental Zoology group.

Courses QVE

Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology (QVE30306)

This course addresses the occurrence and transmission of diseases in populations, as well as risk factors that contribute to the occurrence of these diseases (epidemiology) and how the importance of these risk factors can be quantified.

Management of Infectious Diseases in Animal Populations (QVE30806)

This course is focused on preventive management of infections and diseases. Veterinary epidemiology is one of the basic sciences that contributes to management of disease, including monitoring and surveillance.

Thesis and Internship

A thesis or internship project for the specialisation Adaptation, Health and Behaviour is conducted at the ADP, ANU, APS, BHE, EZO or QVE chair group and results in a scientific report and a presentation. A thesis project usually links up with ongoing research at one of these research groups or is conducted in cooperation with commercial or (non-)governmental organisations. At the websites of the different chair groups, you can find more information about research topics.

ADP chair group

ANU chair group

APS chair group

BHE chair group

EZO chair group

QVE chair group


If you have any questions about the specialisation Adaptation, Health and Behaviour, you can contact the programme director dr. René Kwakkel at