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Raising livestock and producing animal products is half of U.S. agriculture. U.S. animal agriculture provides high quality, safe, nutritious food and products across the globe, adding value to crop and forage lands, supporting local economies, and efficiently utilizing global resources while continually maintaining a focus on the highest standards for animal care and wellbeing.

Animal Agriculture Resources by Sector and Species

General Agricultural Resources
Alternative Livestock Resources

Alternative livestock production includes non-traditional species or breeds and can include specialized production practices and targeted product marketing.  Alternative livestock production often provides genetic diversity in livestock and poultry species through the conservation and promotion of rare breeds.

Animal Production Research

Food animal production research addresses all animal systems across the lifecycle of the animal and includes the animal’s environment, feed resources, care and management, and animal welfare. Genetics and genomics, physiology, reproduction, nutrition and feeding, meat and muscle biology, microbiology, immunology, management, and behavior and welfare are primary focus areas.

Livestock and Poultry

Aquatic Animals

Aquaculture Resources

Aquaculture is the production of aquatic organisms including fish, shellfish and seaweeds under controlled conditions throughout part or all their lifespan.

Cattle Resources - Beef

The United States is a world leader in producing high quality beef for domestic production and export. The United States is also one of the world's largest importers, importing lower-valued beef for processing.

Cattle Resources - Dairy

The United States is a world leader in milk production. U.S. dairy farms, which are overwhelmingly family-owned and managed, are generally members of producer cooperatives. Dairy products range from cheese, fluid milks, yogurt, butter, and ice cream to dry or condensed milk and whey products, which are main ingredients in processed foods.

Hog and Pig Resources

The United States is among the world's leading pork producers and a major player in the global pork market. USDA conducts market analyses on the domestic and world pork markets, including domestic supply and utilization, farm and retail pork prices, and international trade.

Insect Resources

Bees and Other Pollinators

Bees are one of the world’s most effective pollinators for food crops and therefore play a significant role in agricultural systems. Honeybees are the most common pollinator, which makes them the most important species of bees to domestic agriculture.

Food and Feed Insects

Invasive Animal Species
Meat and Animal Product Resources
Poultry Resources

Poultry and egg production continues to expand to meet higher domestic and global demand for relatively low-cost, healthful, and convenient meat products.

Range and Grassland Management Resources

Rangelands provide the principal source of forage for the cattle and sheep operations for thousands of American farms and ranches. As human populations increase and demand for food and energy expands, the need for forage and the other range resources will increase.

Small Ruminant (Sheep and Goats) Resources

Sheep farms and ranches vary greatly in flock size across the United States. Breed diversity in the United States is extensive, matching breed choices with the environment. Vast western rangelands produce the most U.S. sheep, primarily for meat.

Goats, as a browsing species, fit naturally into more complex and mixed species grazing settings. Goat production systems vary across the United States, with herds dedicated to milk, mohair, or meat.

Animal Breeding and Genomics

USDA conducts and facilitates animal and aquatic species genetic improvement strategies across the globe. Development and early adoption of genomic and bioinformatics technologies support world-class efforts to expand the utility of animal genetic resources to produce high-quality, safe, accessible food and fiber. Genetic preservation is a key component of USDA animal breeding and genomics efforts.

Animal Breeding and Genomics Research

Rapid advances in technology and bioinformatics propel research in animal breeding and genomics to ever-expanding capabilities. USDA and Land-grant University researchers have uncovered unprecedented knowledge of animal genomes, allowing precise identification of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that underpin characterization of diversity in animal phenotypes and which enhance response to selection for traits of economic, ecological, and societal value.

Animal Genome to Phenome Roadmap

In 2008, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) published the “Blueprint for USDA Efforts in Agricultural Animal Genomics 2008–2017,” which served as a guiding document for research and funding in animal genomics. Building on accomplishments and acknowledging scientific and technology advances, ARS and NIFA, along with scientists in the animal genomics field, convened a workshop titled “Genome to Phenome: A USDA Blueprint for Improving Animal Production” in November 2017, producing the new 2018-2027 blueprint version. The 2018-2027 blueprint describes the vision, current state of the art, the research needed to advance the field, expected deliverables, and partnerships needed for each animal genomics research topic. Outcomes of Genome to Phenome blueprint will improve the ability to meet global demand for animal products as world population increases.

Genome Editing and Genetic Engineering

Natural genetic variants and small genetic code modifications offer tremendous opportunities to enhance the value of animal resources and opportunities for meeting global challenges. Genome editing also offers great promise for improving animal well-being by addressing animal resilience and resistance to stressors including disease and impacts of climate change.

Animal Health, Wellbeing, and Welfare

Animal health and welfare are important aspects of animal care and management. An animal is considered in good welfare if they are healthy, in a positive emotional state, and can express natural behaviors. Positive health and welfare promote the animal's mental and physical needs and increases their quality of life.

Animal Diseases

USDA helps the nation prepare for, respond to, and recover from animal diseases, including threats and incursions of foreign animal disease. We also conduct applied research and develop technology to help reduce the livestock and poultry industries' economic losses. These efforts also minimize infectious, genetic, and metabolic diseases in rural agricultural communities as well as prevent suffering and death caused by diseases in agriculturally important livestock and poultry.

Infectious Diseases of High National Consequence

  • African Swine Fever (ASF)

    With a near 100 percent mortality rate for pigs and no vaccine, African swine fever poses a grave threat to U.S. swine. While the virus has not been detected in the United States, international travel, trade, and the disease’s easy transmission put U.S. herds at risk. It’s important to remain vigilant, practice and enforce proven prevention steps, and enhance your farm’s biosecurity plans and practices.
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE; Mad Cow Disease)

    Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes referred to as "mad cow disease", is a chronic degenerative prion disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle. A system of interlocking safeguards protects human and animal health, as well as food safety, in the United States.
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease

    Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe and highly contagious viral disease of animals (not to be confused with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease in people). The FMD virus causes illness in cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and other animals with divided hooves. FMD is a worldwide concern as it can spread quickly and cause significant economic losses.

  • Highly Avian Pathogenic Avian Influenza

    Avian influenza is caused by an influenza virus that can infect poultry. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a serious disease and requires rapid response because the virus strains are extremely infectious, often fatal to chickens, and can spread rapidly from flock-to-flock.

Diseases of Concern for Farm Animal Species

Aquatic Animal Diseases of Concern (APHIS)

Cattle Diseases of Concern (APHIS)

  • Anaplasmosis
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE; Mad Cow Disease)
  • Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD)
  • Brucellosis
  • Cattle Fever (Babesiosis)
  • Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease)
  • Heartwater (cowdriosis)
  • Mastitis
  • Rift Valley Fever
  • Tuberculosis

Hog and Pig Diseases of Concern (APHIS)

Horse (and other equine) Diseases (APHIS)

Poultry Diseases of Concern (APHIS)

Sheep and Goat Diseases of Concern (APHIS)

Wildlife and Cervids/Deer Diseases (APHIS)

Prion Diseases

Prevalent animal diseases

Animal Disease Surveillance, Prevention, and Management

A comprehensive, coordinated, integrated surveillance system is the foundation for animal health, public health, food safety, and environmental health. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works with a vast network of partners to carry out surveillance activities in the United States. Together, we work to protect animal health, national economic viability, and the food supply. These surveillance programs also assure international trading partners of the health of the Nation’s herd and safety of our livestock and livestock products.

Animal Health Research

USDA is continuously conducting animal health research and monitoring to protect threats to our Nation's food supply economy.

Animal Wellbeing and Welfare

Consumers are concerned not only with characteristics such as the nutritive content of animal products, but also want assurances that food animals are raised in humane conditions and receive humane treatment during handling and slaughter. USDA tracks animal health and welfare issues as they relate to food safety and the production and availability of animals for processing into meat.

Laws Concerning Welfare of Animals:

Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an area of focus because USDA plays a dual role in protecting animal agriculture and public health. USDA recognizes AMR as a potential and serious threat and focuses on surveillance, research and development, and education, extension and outreach.

One Health

The health of animals, people and the environment are interconnected. The "One Health" approach is the collaborative effort of the human health, veterinary health, and environmental health communities.

With its partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Environmental Protection Agency, and Tribal Nations, USDA seeks to maintain or reduce health risks to animals, humans, the environment and society.

Pests and Parasites of Agricultural Animals (e.g., insect and parasite pests)
Pet Travel and Animal Transportation

Preparing to travel with a pet to a foreign country can be complex and time-consuming. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service helps travelers navigate the process of obtaining health certificates and other documents required by the destination country.

Veterinary Services (APHIS)

Animal Nutrition and Feeding

Animal feeding and nutrition involves animal nutrient utilization for growth and reproduction, food product quality and safety, technical assistance and education for producers and professionals, natural resource conservation and contributions to mitigating effects of climate change.

Animal Nutrient Requirements

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) produce consensus reports that represent comprehensive reviews of the most recent information available on animal nutrition and ingredient composition. Species-specific reports provide recommendations for meeting nutrient requirements of agricultural animals, companion animals, and aquacultural species to support efficient, profitable, and environmentally conscious animal production.

Feed Management

Feed management involves modification and control of the quantity and quality of available nutrients, feedstuffs, ingredients, and additives fed to livestock, poultry, and aquatic species to achieve production and conservation goals.

Nutrition Research

USDA conducts research to improve nutrient use efficiency and to improve animal growth, reproduction, health, and wellbeing. Focused efforts include studies on the microbiome and mycobiome, alternatives to antibiotics, new protein feed sources, increased nutrient availability in feedstuffs, and improved immune response and gut health.  In response to climate change, nutritional approaches to reduce methane and nitrous oxide are evaluated.



Fish and Other Aquatic Organisms


Animal Reproduction

Reproduction Research

USDA conducts reproduction research in livestock, poultry, and aquatic species through internal governmental agency (Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and outward focused government-funded competitive research grant programs (National Institute of Food and Agriculture).

Climate Change, Sustainability, and Animal Agriculture

USDA supports agricultural-animal producers in their response and adaptation to the challenges of climate change to ensure a resilient and sustainable animal production system. USDA scienceprovides the foundation for many climate solutions. Financial and technical assistance that support the implementation of conservation practices enable producers to contribute to reducing greenhouse gases and improving carbon storage. Producers are on the front line of climate change and USDA aims to provide the information, tools, resources, and programs necessary to ensure the sustainability, health, productivity, profitability of America’s animal agriculture.

Climate and Sustainability Resources

USDA Climate Hubs

USDA Climate Hubs develop and deliver science-based, region-specific information and technologies, collaborating across USDA agencies and with non-USDA partners, to agricultural and natural resource managers that enable climate-informed decision-making, and to provide access to assistance to implement those decisions.

Food Safety of Animal Products

Consumers, communities, industry and government all work together to prevent foodborne illness. Take steps to ensure your food is safe by learning best practices for how to buy, prepare and store food safely.

Food Safety Resources

Markets, Economics, and Trade (Domestic and International)

USDA collects and publishes a wide range of data and information on domestic and international markets including forecasts, production figures, and trade statistics. We aim to provide farmers, producers, ranchers, and industry stakeholders with the information they need to make informed production and marketing decisions.  Additionally, this information supports research efforts, informs policy and programs, and fosters transparency in the marketplace.

U.S. Domestic Agricultural Markets and Economy
U.S. International Trade and Foreign Agricultural Markets


Wildlife plays an important role in maintaining a healthy and functional ecosystem. USDA wildlife programs provide scientific information and research on wildlife, its habitat, and its relationship to agriculture and public health and safety, including disease programs and habitat management support for landowners.

Wildlife Resources

Wildlife Research

Additional Animal Research Resources

USDA provides funding opportunities to advance knowledge in both fundamental and applied sciences important to animal agriculture. Supported project areas include animal health and production, animal systems, aquaculture, and insect pests.

USDA Science and Research Strategy

Agriculture Network Information Collaborative (AgNIC)

Animal Use Alternatives in Animal Research (National Agricultural Library, NAL)

SEARCH the National Agricultural Library’s Collections

Animal Research and Funding Opportunities
USDA ARS Animal Research Units

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducts food animal research across the United States.  Scientists and support personnel conduct cutting edge research, focusing on scientific discovery and problem solving to improve animal efficiency, health, and well-being to enhance production sustainability.

USDA ARS conducts animal research all around the United States and with global partners:

Food Animal Research Sites (ARS)

Animal Health Research Sites (ARS)

Aquaculture Research Sites (ARS)

Veterinary, Medical, and Urban Entomology Sites (ARS)

Additional Farm Animal Resources, Risk Management, Technical and Financial Support

Additional Resources and Support
Animal Sector Check-Off Associations
Risk Management