Animal nutritionists aim to increase and promote the understanding of the effect of diet on the health, wellbeing and productivity of animals.
They are active mostly in the field of agriculture, where they provide advice and information on animal nutrition as well as designing and evaluating the diets of the animals in question.
They may also be involved in the production of food for zoo and companion animals (pets), and give advice on issues related to feeding them. Some animal nutritionists choose specialise in one type of animal.
Animal nutritionists have expertise and an interest in science and animal welfare and often need strong business management and communication skills.
They can be found working for:
- government departments;
- agricultural advisory bodies;
- international development agencies;
- educational and research institutions;
- animal food production companies;
- themselves as freelance consultants.
Typical work activities
Animal nutritionists generally fall into two categories, those who work directly with farmers and those who work for feed companies.
Typical tasks will vary according to the exact position but will include some of the following:
- evaluating the chemical and nutritional value of feeds, feed supplements, grass and forage for commercial animals and pets;
- formulating diets and rations to maximise growth, reproduction, health and/or performance;
- assessing the relative nutritional and economic value of feeding systems;
- researching the effectiveness of dietary regimes;
- conducting animal-based studies and laboratory trials;
- supporting agricultural consultants in their work;
- liaising with producers and clients to understand their targets and objectives, and the specific needs of the market;
- monitoring feed formulations to meet quality performance and animal health standards;
- providing advice on nutrition to farmers, other animal owners, veterinarians and government bodies;
- rationalising animal feed manufacturing techniques;
- expanding existing ranges of animal food products and developing new ones;
- supporting commercial teams in producing and launching new products;
- carrying out sales and marketing strategies following the launch of a new product;
- balancing a growing consumer interest in quality with the need to develop competitive agricultural systems;
- maintaining expertise in nutritional trends and keeping up to date with regulatory changes;
- using computer software to formulate diets, conduct research and generate reports;
- investigating nutritional disorders and the safe storage of feeds, often in conjunction with veterinary surgeons.
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