Animal nutritionists aim to increase and promote the understanding of the effect of diet on the health, wellbeing and productivity of animals. They are responsible for providing advice and information on animal nutrition, as well as designing and evaluating the diets of the animals.
In the role you may also be involved in the production of feed and food for food animals and companion animals (pets). Some animal nutritionists choose to specialise in one type of animal
This is a basic job description of an animal nutritionist, there may be some variation in your tasks depending on whether you work directly for a farmer, or for a feed company, but generally you'll need to:
Evaluate the chemical score and nutritional value of feeds, feed supplements, grass and forage for commercial animals and pets;
Formulate diets and rations to maximise growth, reproduction, health and/or performance;
Responsible for feed budgeting and auditing of feed budgets for the best diet design and cost analysis
Work closely with production manager, feed mill manager, farm manager and technical manager for optimal animal feed and production.
Research the effectiveness of dietary regimes, conduct animal-based studies and laboratory trials;
Support agricultural consultants in their work;
Liaise with producers and clients to understand their targets and objectives, and the specific needs of the market;
Monitor feed formulations to meet quality performance and animal health standards;
Provide advice on nutrition to farmers, other animal owners, veterinarians and government bodies;
Rationalise animal feed manufacturing techniques;
Expand existing ranges of animal food products and develop new ones;
Support technical and commercial teams in providing information and services to customers.
Balance a growing consumer interest in quality with the need to develop competitive agricultural systems;
Maintain expertise in nutritional trends and keep up to date with regulatory changes;
Use computer software to formulate diets, conduct research and generate reports;
Investigate nutritional disorders and the safe storage of feeds, often in conjunction with veterinary surgeons.
Due to the nature of the work, a range of science-related degrees are relevant such as:
The following subjects may open up more opportunities because of their focus on animals and/or nutrition:
Agriculture (animal science);
Animal production science;
Animal welfare and behaviour;
Applied animal science;
Public health nutrition;
If you have an HND in nutrition and are hoping for a career in animal nutrition, you will most likely need to transfer onto a relevant degree course to study nutritional science in more detail. If you have a more general biology or science-related degree, it may be necessary to specialise in nutrition at postgraduate level. A PhD is necessary for some posts.
Professional registration with the Association for Nutrition, Animal Production Club or Relating group on Social Media… can help to give you a competitive edge. Associate registration is available for newly qualified nutrition graduates with little or no experience.
You will need to show:
An understanding of the scientific basis of nutrition;
Familiarity with analysing data and writing reports;
Ability to conduct research in a safe, ethical and reliable manner;
The capability to formulate and communicate ideas;
Basic knowledge and practical experience of animal production and feed manufacturing practices
Business management, time management and personal development skills;
Advanced numeracy, IT and internet skills;
Experience is valued by employers and clients, particularly in related areas such as animal feed sales or practical farm experience. Having a farming background will give you an advantage.
You can approach experienced nutritionists for work shadowing opportunities or at least talk to them about the various areas of nutrition. This will help you choose your specialist area and understand current industry trends.
Animal nutritionists can work in a range of roles, from advisory positions, to product development, through to sales and marketing jobs. Employers include:
Agricultural advisory bodies;
Animal and pet food manufacturers;
Educational and research institutions;
International development agencies;
Universities and colleges with relating facultiesIt is also possible to work as a freelance animal nutritionist, once you have gained enough experience.
If you are interested in teaching and research, you can look for opportunities in universities and agricultural colleges.
It is also possible to work as a freelance animal nutritionist, once you have gained enough experience.
If you are interested in teaching and research, you can look for opportunities in universities and agricultural colleges. Delivering health and science education in schools and colleges is also an option, for which a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) (or equivalent) would be a requirement.
An animal nutritionist is possible to become a specialist field consultant, or gain a post in technical sales or marketing in an animal feed production company within the commercial sector. You may also find an opportunity to specialise in a particular species, such as poultry or horses.
Nutritionists who have started out with one of the smaller manufacturers can progress by moving to a larger multinational company, where there is likely to be greater scope for promotion. Alternatively, if you have built up a strong and loyal client base, you might work as a freelance independent consultant or start your own feed business.
Post-PhD careers might include research on an foreign-funded project, lecturing in animal nutrition, researching animal management for a feed additive company, and product management for an international breeding firm.