Established in 1968, the Department of Animal Science is responsible for teaching of all aspects of Animal Production and Health Management, Animal Product Technology, Aquaculture and Fisheries, and Wild Life to the students of the Faculty of Agriculture following B.Sc. in Agricultural Technology and Management and B.Sc. in Food Science and Technology degree programs as well as the recently launched B.Sc. in Animal Science and Fisheries degree program of which a major share of teaching is carried out by the Department. The academic staff of the Department also plays a crucial role in teaching and training students following M.Sc., M. Phil. and Ph.D. degree programs at the Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, primarily under the Board of Study in Animal Science. They are also actively engaged in research, policy formulation and livestock development programs at provincial and national levels.
Laboratory facilities of the Department include a feed and herbage laboratory which is well equipped to carry out feed analysis, a digestibility and metabolism research unit for ruminants, a physiology laboratory for blood metabolite analysis, semen evaluation and radio immunoassay studies on reproduction and lactation physiology, a dairy and meat product technology laboratory, an arboretum and pasture museum, and aquaculture facilities. Part of molecular genetic and biotechnology related research of the Department is also carried out using the facilities of the Biotechnology Centre of the University. The Computer Unit of the Department provides computational facilities for animal breeding and other research. The Reading Room of the Department maintains project reports, publications, books and journals frequently used by the staff and students.
The Department also maintains a rare collection of poultry breeds including layer and broiler grand parent stocks, Turkey, Guinea Fowl, Quails and Pigeons and a hatchery at the department premises. The Livestock Field Station at Mawela, Uda Peradeniya, established based on the principles of integration maintains dairy cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep, ducks, rabbits, swine, fresh water fish, guinea pigs and micro livestock species including deer, crocodiles, porcupine and wild pigs. The products of Livestock Field Station are sold at the Faculty Sales Center and Milk Bar, and the University Milk Bar, both managed by the Department under a semi-self funded project as a service to the community. A dairy farmer network also has been established using the farmers in the surrounding community, and the milk collected daily is processed at the Field Station for marketing. Surplus animals of high quality are issued for farmers for breeding purpose including hybrid chicks and ducklings. The resources of the Department and the Livestock Field Station are utilized heavily for various training programs organized frequently on livestock production particularly for school children and teachers, students of other higher educational institutions, farmers, and representatives of both government and nongovernmental organizations.
Research programs of the Department are focused directly on livestock development of the country at both national and small farmer levels. The major areas of research interests are: Reproduction, lactation and environmental physiology; processing, quality control and development of various meat and dairy products; livestock based farming systems including duck-fish integration systems; genetic evaluation and genetic diversity of livestock breeds and crosses; investigation of nutritive and supplementation values of tree fodders and legume based pastures; evaluation of rabbits and micro-livestock for meat production; and aquaculture and fisheries. Many of the research are carried out involving undergraduates of the Faculty, postgraduate students of PGIA and collaborators of other institutions. The academic staff contributes to national development in numerous ways being engaged in national and provincial statutory and advisory bodies, professional organizations, administrative positions and consultancies in related public and private institutions.