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Animal Nutritionist

What’s it all about then?

As an Animal Nutritionist, your job will be to make sure that the dietary needs of animals are met effectively; you’ll also raise levels of knowledge about the effects of diet on the welfare and productivity of animals by providing advice and information on the topic.

You’ll most likely be employed in the agricultural sector, working to help farmers maximise profitability by helping them to better understand the benefits of good nutrition for their animals.

You might also conduct research on nutritional issues, or perhaps choose to specialise in one particular type of animal.

What might I be doing?

As an animal nutritionist, you'll have a wide range of tasks which are likely to include some of the following:

  • Developing nutritional and feed plans for animals
  • Ensuring feedstuffs meet safety and quality standards
  • Analysing livestock nutritional disorders
  • Liaising with producers and farmers to understand market need
  • Working with clients to develop bespoke diets and nutritional plans
  • Advising farmers and other relevant parties
  • Comparing and assessing nutritional value of feeding systems
  • Conducting research, trials and writing reports
  • Determining nutritional levels of various animal feedstuffs
  • Enhancing animal feed range and developing new feed varieties
  • Promoting new product ranges as necessary
  • Keeping up to date with development and legislative changes
  • Visiting farms and producers
  • Interpreting nutritional data

What will be expected of me?

You’ll be expected to fully understand the science of nutrition to be able to fulfil your role; this includes the ability to conduct effective research, analyse your findings and write reports.

As well as this core skill you’ll be expected to be a good problem solver, so you can investigate and resolve nutritional problems for your clients; you’ll need to be able to form effective relationships with a lot of different people so that they know they can trust your advice.

You’ll also be expected to work long hours at times, often by yourself, to meet the needs of your clients; visiting farms means being out in all weathers so be ready for this as well.

What can I expect?

You can expect to spend a lot of time out and about as you travel from one farm client to the next; this means you need to be happy to work alone much of the time and prepared for at least some time away from home.

You could also work as a company area representative with team meetings at perhaps monthly intervals.

You can expect to have to communicate with colleagues, farmers and other stakeholders, so make sure you’re not someone who doesn’t like talking or giving presentations!

What about the pay?

These will vary from place to place but expect somewhere around the following:

Starting off you could earn between £18,000 and £22,000 per year and this could rise to more than £30,000 with experience and a postgraduate qualification such as a PhD.

The most experienced could earn upwards of £50,000 per year

Some employers may offer other rewards such as a performance related bonus.

These figures are for your guidance only and you should always check with any potential employer!

What qualifications do I need to get in?

There are loads of different science degrees that you could use, including:          

  • BSc in Agriculture or Agricultural Technology
  • BSc in Biomedical Sciences
  • BSc in Animal Management/Science
  • BSc in Dietetics
  • BSc in Biochemistry
  • BSc in Nutrition
  • BSc in Animal Science/Applied Animal Science
  • BSc in Veterinary Science
  • BSc in Animal Health and Welfare
  • BSc in Zoology

If you want to keep your options as open as possible, then you could also consider taking a degree related to those listed and then take a more specific postgraduate qualification.

You could also start off at Foundation Degree or HND level and then move on to a degree course.

Where would I get these qualifications?

All the qualifications and many more are widely available throughout the UK; simply check out the online prospectuses and make your choice.

What about further training?

You are likely to get the opportunity to avail of in house courses organised by suppliers and other stakeholders – this will keep you right up to date with scientific advances.

You could consider taking a Masters’ level course or PhD and options include:

  • MSc in Animal Nutrition from University of Nottingham
  • MSc in Animal Science from University of Aberystwyth
  • MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare from Queen’s University Belfast

You might also think about research opportunities; a good move here would be to join a body such as the Association for Nutrition or the Nutrition Society. This will help with both networking and continuous professional development.

The British Society of Animal Sciences is another useful membership body that you should check out.

Anything else I might need to know?

For a career as an animal nutritionist you'll need an interest in science and animal welfare, good communication and business skills and a love of the outdoors, where you’ll spend much of your time.

You’ll have the option of working for a range of employers, both private and public sector; after you’ve gained enough experience you could also consider setting yourself up as a consultant.