Strategy for Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Science Optional for UPSC

Animal husbandry is the management and care of farm animals by humans. Veterinary Science is the science of diagnosing, treating and curing diseases in birds and animals. It covers the study of animal physiology, treatment and prevention of diseases among animals. It is one of the optional subjects offered by the UPSC for the civil services mains exam. It is a specialised subject and ideally should be pursued only by candidates who have a degree in the subject. Although not a popular subject like geography, pub ad or anthropology, animal husbandry and vet science is a good option for candidates with a background in this subject. Read on to know more about the AHVS optional – how to prepare for the exam, which resources to go through, past performance of the optional, tips to improve score, and more.

How many take the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science optional?

The following table gives the number of candidates who took the IAS exam with the animal husbandry optional and cleared it between the years 2010 and 2015. As you can see, the number of people hardly rises above 50. Nevertheless, the optional has a good success rate and every year, there are candidates who find success in the IAS exam with this optional subject.

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Optional Success Rate

Year No. of candidates appeared No. of candidates cleared Success Rate (%)
2015 47 5 10.6
2014 28 4 14.3
2013 32 5 15.6
2012 52 12 23.1
2011 50 5 10.0
2010 69 7 10.1

In the 2017 civil services exam, the All-India rank 10 was bagged by a vet from Jammu & Kashmir, Dr. Bilal Mohi ud din Bhat. His optional was animal husbandry and veterinary science.

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Toppers

Name Year Rank
Bilal Mohi ud din Bhat 2017 10
Aman Bishla 2016 315

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science pros and cons

As with any other optional subject, there are both pros and cons associated with the animal husbandry and veterinary science optional. Go through the pros and cons of the subject and then evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses vis-a-vis this subject and then come to a decision regarding your optional. Think it through as the optional accounts for 500 marks in the final tally and can dramatically affect your final rank.

First of all, we discuss the pros of this subject.

Animal Husbandry & Vet Science Pros

  • Familiarity – first of all, as a graduate in the subject, you would have studied the subject for 5 years and would be familiar with the concepts. If you take up subjects like pub ad or geography, you would have to study them from scratch.
  • Syllabus – the syllabus for animal husbandry and vet science is well-defined and precise. There is no ambiguity.
  • Marks – this is a scoring subject as it is a science and there is no room for interpretation here. Also, you can score easy marks through diagrams and pictures.
  • Static subject – animal husbandry and veterinary science is a static subject. There is no dynamic component as such here and this leads to the next point, which is the kind of questions asked in the exam.
  • Repetition of questions – about 80% of the questions asked in the papers are direct and straight-forward. Hence, if you go through the previous UPSC question papers diligently, you should be able to predict questions and in any case, know the important areas to focus on.
  • Competition – you will face far less competition in this paper compared to the more popular optionals.
  • Overlap – even though the overlap with the general studies papers is minimal, some areas will help you in the GS papers, such as livestock production and management, extension, milk and milk products technology, and meat hygiene and technology.

Animal Husbandry & Vet Science Cons

Now, let us go through the negatives of this optional subject.

  • Coaching for this optional subject is hard to come by.
  • There is hardly any UPSC-tailored study material available for this optional.
  • It is also difficult to find a mains test series for this optional subject.

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Syllabus for IAS

Let us take a look at the syllabus for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science for the UPSC mains exam.

There are two optional papers in the UPSC exam pattern. Both the papers are for a total of 250 marks making the total optional marks to 500.

UPSC Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Syllabus PDF:-Download Syllabus PDF

Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science Strategy for UPSC

Paper I Strategy

Animal Nutrition

  • For this section, you should refer to Principles of Animal Nutrition by DV Reddy.
  • The important topics in this section are energy-protein relationship, use of NPN compounds, feed additives, conservation of fodders, storage and anti-nutritional factors associated with them, and poultry nutrition.

Example questions:

Q) Differentiate between the following:

Protein efficiency ratio and Net protein utilization (4 marks, 2018)

Q) Differentiate between the following:

Net protein utilization and Net protein value (4 marks, 2017)

Q) Discuss in brief about the various systems of expressing the energy value of feeds and energy requirements in swine. (10 marks, 2017)

Animal Physiology

  • For the topics Endocrine and Cardiovascular Systems, you should use Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton and Hall.
  • Under endocrine system, the biochemistry part can be covered from Biochemistry by U Satyanarayana (especially for the subtopics buffers, and acid-base balance). Growth curves, mammary development and digestive organs are important subtopics here.
  • For the chapters blood, respiration and excretion, you should read Dukes’ Physiology of Domestic Animals.
  • Under excretion, make sure to read the part about birds. Make notes for this section as it is vast and very difficult to revise at the last moment.
  • You should practice diagrams for blood cells, cardiac cycle, pulmonary circulation, kidney and its structures, cerebro-spinal fluid circulation and air sacs in birds.

Example questions:

Q) Give diagrammatic representation of kidney and narrate its functions. (10 marks, 2018)

Q) Mention digestive organs and their role in food digestion in monogastric animals. (10 marks, 2018)

Q) Write the general functions of blood in animal body. (10 marks, 2017)

Q) Discuss the role of endocrine glands along with their secretory hormones for cell growth. (15 marks, 2017)

Animal Reproduction

  • A good source for studying this section is the online source TANUVAS.
  • Another source is Perspectives in Animal Ecology and Reproduction by Verma and Gupta.
  • Important topics here are gametogenesis, spermatogenesis and oogenesis, qualitative and quantitative characteristics of semen, and methods of detection of estrus.

Example questions:

Q) Write the physicochemical properties of ejaculated semen in domestic animals. (10 marks, 2018)

Q) Explain, how will you ameliorate the problem of infertility in cattle and buffaloes under field conditions. (10 marks, 2017)

Livestock Production and Management

  • You can refer to Principles of Dairy Management by P Venkateshwara Rao for this section.
  • For feeding during draughts, floods and other natural calamities, you can use Pashudhan Magazine. This subsection is very important as the UPSC always asks questions from here.

Example questions:

Q) Write in detail the factors affecting water requirements of animals. (10 marks, 2018)

Q) Write a brief on: Feeding schedule of calves from birth to 3 months age. (5 marks, 2017)

Genetics and Animal Breeding

  • For population genetics, you can read Cell Biology by Agarwal and Agarwal.
  • You can also refer to Principles of Genetics by Gardner, Population Genetics by DC Flaconer and Population Genetics by SS Tomar.
  • The important topics here are qualitative and quantitative traits, HW equilibrium and factors affecting the equilibrium (migration, mutation and selection), partition of variation, and breeding value and its estimation.
  • Derivation of H-W law and the heritability derivations are not that important.
  • For Breeding Systems, you should refer to Animal breeding by SS Tomar and Introduction to Practical Animal Breeding by Dalton.

Example questions:

Q) Discuss about modified Mendelian ratio in monohybrid cross with examples. (10 marks, 2018)

Q) Importance of gene mutations in farm animals. (10 marks, 2017)

Q) How will you assess that a quantitative trait is affected by additive or non-additive gene action or both? Discuss the methods of selection for simultaneous improvement of multi-traits. (20 marks, 2017)

Extension

  • For this section, you can read Textbook of Animal Husbandry and Livestock Extension by P. Mathialagan.
  • You should also be aware of the latest government schemes related to animal husbandry.
  • This is a scoring section and make sure to study learning methodology, transfer of technology and government schemes as these topics are frequently asked.

Example questions:

Q) Discuss in detail about different animal husbandry programmes for rural development in India. (15 marks, 2018)

Q) Write in detail about the components of variance. (15 marks, 2018)

Q) Discuss the cattle and sheep developmental programme for improving the economic status of farmers. (15 marks, 2017)

Paper II Strategy

Anatomy, Pharmacology and Hygiene

  • The important topics in Histology are staining, freezing microtome and microscopy.
  • For this section, you should use Textbook of Histology Including the Microscopic Technique by Philipp Stoehr.
  • The important topics under embryology are gametogenesis, fertilization, germ layers, foetal membranes, placentation, teratology and germ layers derivatives.
  • You don’t have to study organogenesis in detail.
  • Please remember that questions are rarely asked from anatomy.
  • For veterinary hygiene, you should read A Textbook of Animal Husbandry by GC Banerjee. Practice diagrams of housing pattern.

Example questions:

Q) Discuss the following: Anatomical and Physiological classification of neurons. (10 marks, 2018)

Q) Discuss the following: Classification of placenta in domestic animals. (10 marks, 2017)

Animal Diseases

  • Important diseases are brucellosis, rabies, rinderpest and ppr, anthrax, pasteurellosis, swine fever, glanders, strangles, leptospirosis and clostridia group.
  • Important topics in immunisation are herd immunity, zero disease concept, and chemoprophylaxis.
  • Metabolic diseases is a very important section.
  • You can refer to Prevention and Treatment of Diseases of the Domestic Animals Including Etiology and Symptoms by Kenelm Winslow

Veterinary Public Health

  • Under zoonoses, the role of animals and birds in transmission is important.
  • You can read Zoonoses: Bacterial Diseases by Sudhi Ranjan Garg and Veterinary Ethics and Jurisprudence by Kirti Dua.
  • You should also study Textbook of Elements of Veterinary Public Health by Bachhil and Thapliyal (ICAR).

Milk and Milk Products Technology

  • This is the most important section of Paper II.
  • Practice flow diagrams of product manufacture.
  • You can use Outlines of Dairy: Technology by Sukumar De.

Example questions:

Q) Legal standards for whole milk powder and skim milk powder. (10 marks, 2018)

Q) Describe the method of manufacturing, packaging and storage of butter. (15 marks, 2017)

Q) Classify dairy industry by-products and explain the general method of preparing acid-casein. (15 marks, 2017)

Meat Hygiene and Technology

  • For this section, you can refer to Meat and Meat Products Technology by BD Sharma.

Animal husbandry and veterinary science books for IAS

  • Principles of Animal Nutrition by DV Reddy
  • Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton and Hall
  • Biochemistry by U Satyanarayana
  • Dukes’ Physiology of Domestic Animals
  • Perspectives in Animal Ecology and Reproduction by Verma and Gupta
  • Pashudhan magazines
  • Cell Biology by Agarwal and Agarwal
  • Principles of Genetics by Gardner
  • Population Genetics by DC Flaconer
  • Population Genetics by SS Tomar
  • Animal breeding by SS Tomar
  • Practical Animal Breeding by Dalton
  • Textbook of Histology Including the Microscopic Technique by Philipp Stoehr
  • A Textbook of Animal Husbandry by GC Banerjee
  • Prevention and Treatment of Diseases of the Domestic Animals Including Etiology and Symptoms by Kenelm Winslow
  • Zoonoses: Bacterial Diseases by Sudhi Ranjan Garg
  • Veterinary Ethics and Jurisprudence by Kirti Dua
  • Textbook of Elements of Veterinary Public Health by Bachhil and Thapliyal (ICAR)
  • Outlines of Dairy: Technology by Sukumar De
  • Meat and Meat Products Technology by BD Sharma

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