35294 - Endocrinology, Physiology of Reproduction and Ethology of Domestic Animals

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student should know in details the fundamental mechanisms regulating reproductive and metabolic activity of domestic animals. He/she should possess knowledge of the ethogram of the main species of veterinary interest.

Course contents

Endocrinology: hormone chemistry, receptors and mechanisms of action. Transport of hormones. Pituitary and hypothalamic hormones. Regulation of hormone secretion and activity. The thyroid gland: synthesis, secretion, transport and effects of thyroid hormones. Goiter. Endocrine pancreas: synthesis, secretion and action of insulin and glucagon. The adrenal gland: synthesis and action of glucocorticoids. Hormonal regulation of calcium and phosphate homeostasis. Effects of parathormone, calcitriol and calcitonin. Growth hormone: synthesis, regulation of secretion and effects.

Phisiology of reproduction. Physiology of puberty. Factors affecting puberty. Estrous cycle: general aspects and species-specific characteristics. Hormonal control of the estrous cycle. Follicular wave and ovulation. The luteal phase and the corpus luteum. Luteolysis: peculiaritiesof species. Seasonal reproductive activity. Male reproductive system: hormonal regulation of the reproductive function. Gametogenesis, fertilization and embryo development. The endocrinology of pregnancy and parturition. Physiology of lactation.

Ethology. Brief history of ethology. Ethograms of farm and companion animals. Animal Learning. Communicative behaviour: visual, auditory and chemical communications. Feeding behaviour. Social and reproductive behaviour in domestic animals. Parturient behaviour and maternal care. Stress physiology and ethology. Approach to animal welfare assessment. Brief mention of the main behavioural problems.


O. Sjaastad, O. Sand, K. Hove. Physiology of domestic animals. Scandinavian veterinary press.

M.J. Swenson and W.O.Reece. Duke's Physiology of domestic animals (eleventh edition).

E.S.E. Hafez & B. Hafez, Reproduction in Farm Animals, 7th Edition.

McDonald's VETERINARY ENDOCRINOLOGY AND REPRODUCTION. Ed. Pineda & Doooley, IowaState Press (5th edition).


C.Carenzi, M.Panzera et al. ETOLOGIA APPLICATA E BENESSERE ANIMALE (vol.I – II). Ed. Le Point Vétérinaire Italie (2009).

J.K. Shaw, D. Martin. Canine and feline behavior for veterinary technicians and nurses. John Wiley & Sons

Teaching methods

Ex cathedra lectures, seminars, practical activities.

Assessment methods

According to the actual regulations, the student needs to follow both lessons and exercises.

Final oral or written examination; the students will be informed during the course about the ways. In both cases the aim is to evaluate if the student has acquired the knowledge related to the topics that have been treated during the course.

Written exam. The written exam will consist of 75 questions (either multiple choice questions or very short questions with open answers); each multiple choice question will present a little number of alternatives and can have more than one exact answer. In case of open questions, the answer must not exceed the available space. The score ranges between 0 (zero) and 1 (one) depending on whether the answer is exact and pertinent to the question. No answer will have a score equal to zero.

The student will not have the possibility to use textbooks, memos or data storage devices.

The exam will be considered as passed if the total score is equal or above 45 points.

Oral exam. The exam will be considered as passed if the student demonstrates that has sufficient knowledge of the arguments that have been treated during the course. In particular, students should  be able to link the different arguments, to have a deep knowledge of the topics and to speech properly.

Teaching tools

PC, labs.

Office hours

See the website of Marcella Spinaci

See the website of Pier Attilio Accorsi