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What They Do

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Animal nutritionists create food and diets for all types of animals -- performance animals, food animals, companion animals and zoo animals. For example, they can visit ranchers and help them devise healthier and more economical way to feed the herd.

Animal nutritionists can also be involved in creating new foods and supplements for the animal market.

"Basically, an animal nutritionist does for an animal's diet what a veterinarian does for an animal's health," explains Jane Goodridge. She is an animal nutritionist. "I design diets, do herd visits, go to barns and take feed samples."

"The diets of all kinds of animals are under a nutritionist's control," says Ronald Lemenager. He is a professor of animal nutrition at Purdue University. "Whether it's for domestic or companion animals, nutritionists look at ways to meet different nutrient profiles."

Nutritionists can be found in a variety of settings. They may work for pet or farm feed companies. They might conduct research at universities or at food manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies. They could also work at animal health clinics and zoos.

Animal nutrition isn't a job with regular office hours. Nutritionists may work some evenings and weekends if animal assistance is needed, or they're making a field visit or giving a presentation. "This definitely isn't 9-to-5 work," says Goodridge.

You might have to travel, although not all positions require it. Depending on the work, the job also has some physical demands.

"Sometimes I can be involved in weighing, handling and sorting pigs," says Goodridge. "If someone is doing research they may have to take blood samples or even help with birthing!"

At a Glance

Figure out what to feed the animals

  • Nutritionists design diets for a wide range of animals
  • They can also work at creating new foods
  • Start with a degree in agriculture, horticulture, veterinary studies, biology or nutrition


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