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Animal nutritionists are scientists who analyse the nutritional value of animal feeds and provide 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 plan diets in order to provide domestic animals and livestock with nutritionally balanced food stuffs. Responsibilities of the job include:

  • assessing the relative nutritional values of various feeds
  • supporting the work of agricultural advisers/consultants
  • visiting farms
  • interpreting forage analysis
  • using 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

Working hours can be irregular but it is not usually necessary to work during weekends. Freelance work is an option once you have accumulated experience and contacts.

Typical employers of animal nutritionists

  • Animal and pet feed manufacturers
  • Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS)
  • Scotland’s Rural 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, The Scottish Farmer, Farmers Guardian, Horse and Hound and their online equivalents. The larger animal feed companies may run graduate recruitment schemes, though these are not necessarily available every year.

  • The recruitment process is likely to involve a technical interview. Read our article on technical interviews to find out what these involve and how you can tackle them.

Qualification and training required

A degree in nutrition, equine studies, animal/veterinary science, medical sciences, agriculture, or dietetics is usually 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. Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.

Pre-entry work experience can be helpful. It may be helpful to register with the Nutrition Society, which costs £20 for students and graduates. Both experienced and inexperienced graduates can also register with the Association for Nutrition.

Key skills for animal nutritionists

  • Ability to undertake independent research
  • Ability to communicate with clients, customers and fellow scientists
  • IT and numeracy skills
  • Self management and self motivation
  • Ability to write reports and keep good records

A full driving licence is very useful.

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