Animal nutritionist: job description

Animal nutritionists provide information about the nutritive values of animal feeds and livestock dietary advice to farming, agricultural and public sector staff.
A small number of universities offer specialist degree courses in animal nutrition.

What does an animal nutritionist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Animal nutritionists undertake research and development activities in order to provide domestic animals and livestock with nutritionally balanced food stuffs. Responsibilities of the job include:

  • analysing and interpreting data
  • calculating and assessing the relative nutritional values of various feeds
  • supporting the work of agricultural advisers/consultants
  • visiting farms
  • interpreting forage analysis
  • utilising specialist computer software to devise diets and produce reports
  • working with clients to formulate diets that meet their requirements/objectives
  • analysing nutritional disorders
  • maintaining awareness of technical and scientific developments

Salaries for animal nutritionalists can range from £25,000 - £35,000. You may be required to do a small amount of traveling around the world.

Typical employers of animal nutritionists

  • animal and pet feed manufacturers
  • Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS)
  • the Scottish Agricultural College
  • nutritional research centres
  • Hannah Research Institute
  • government agricultural departments
  • universities
  • consultancies

Jobs are advertised by specialist recruitment agencies, in local/national newspapers and publications including New Scientist, Farmers' Weekly, Scottish Farmer, Farmers Guardian, and the Horse and Hound. ADAS and several of the larger animal feed companies run annual graduate recruitment schemes, for which applications should be made early in the academic year.

Qualification and training required

A degree in equine studies, animal/veterinary science, medical sciences, agriculture, horticulture or crop/plant science is required for entry into the profession. Graduates from closely related degree disciplines (biology for example) may also be eligible if they undertake a relevant postgraduate qualification. Some vacancies may require a relevant PhD. Pre-entry work experience can be helpful. It is also advantageous for career progression to become an accredited nutritionist via registration with the Nutrition Society, which will cost £20 for students and graduates.

Key skills for animal nutritionists

  • confidence
  • independence
  • adaptability
  • good communication skills
  • IT skills
  • self management
  • good record keeping

A full driving licence is also normally essential.