Animal Careers | Animal Nutrition

For a long time there was not a lot of interest in animal nutrition other than from the agricultural field or those involved in the manufacturing of specific diets.

Today that is changing a there is a rising trend for animal nutritionists.

However it is hard to find a course of instruction that isn’t in the main sector of commercial animal diets.

When I was a clinic associate for a progressive animal wellness center back in the mid-1990s, natural nutrition and raw food diets were considered fairly new and foreign.

Today that isn’t the case as more and  more people question the reasoning behind commercial manufacturing and demand more complex and more palatable foods for their pets.

One thing you can do is explore the animal nutrition books on the market to get a small glimpse of what is involved and if you might be interested in an animal nutrition career.

Coming from the zoological field had its advantages because we had to feed foods that met the nutritional needs of our animals and primarily fed raw diets. During my early years in my career with animals we were also instrumental in assessing the packaged foods that began to appear on the scene.

Lifestyle diets for companion animals broke onto the market around the early 1980s and today the dietary options available for pets can make your head spin since there are so many choices.

If you are looking for a career with animals that helps them and continues to offer new opportunities, consider animal nutrition.

But keep in mind that this is a growing field and so hard to find a lot of options. The main three areas include agricultural (animal science), pets and zoo animals–listed in order of the opportunities on the job market.

One good place to start is the Comparative Nutrition Society because it crosses disciplines and can be a good place to network and explore.

The Global College of Natural Nutrition is now offering a course of study and has some accreditations but is not a recognized program for animals and I doubt a Holistic Chief for Animals certification will hold any weight at the moment.

In the zoo world you can find some zoo nutrition books over at the European Association of Zoos & Aquaria and announcements on upcoming zoo nutrition conferences too.

If you are looking for something that has weight within the animal field (but more conservative in scope) start with some of the recommendations at the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.

You might find it interesting to know that of all the zoos in the United States there are currently only about 20 or so zoo animal nutritionists. (Brookfield Zoo is one of the leaders in the industry.)

The Zoo Nutrition Advisory Group regularly posts opportunities in Wildlife Nutrition. So, if you are already on the path, and have an MS or PhD, this might be an avenue you might want to explore.

Animal Sciences usually has a lot more opportunities and Purdue currently offers an online course that could be something to use to get your feet wet to see if it is something that you might be interested in.

Principles of Animal Nutrition covers five main areas: nutrients, digestive systems, feeds, ration balancing and livestock feeding. The course touches nearly every subject in basic animal nutrition and is part of the animal sciences department at the College of Agriculture.

For information about fees or registration contact Dennis McElhoe the distance learning coordinator, at (765)-494-1434, [email protected].

Additional course information is available by contacting the instructor Dale Forsyth at (765) 494-4841, [email protected].

Animal Careers | What is 4H?


4H was a hot topic of discussion this week. I have a friend who didn’t have fond memories of having to deal with an animal she raised going out for bid and sale for slaughter.

Many people believe animal careers means playing with animals but it is much broader of a career base than that. In this case, the group helps expose young people to the business of livestock.

Since I never was involved with 4H, it got me to thinking about how most people don’t know what 4H stands for or that it is the nation’s largest youth development organization.

4H is began as a rural youth program. (HHHH is for Head, Heart, Hands, Heaith.)

The birth of the program is credited to A.B. Graham who, in 1902, began a club in Ohio that is considered to be the origin of the 4H program.

Congress created the 4H Cooperative Extension Service at USDA in 1914.

After a state expansion in the mid-1940s and then into more urban areas in the 1950s, today many people associate the club with livestock efforts across the nation since many of the kids show their animals at different fairs annually.

An outreach to astounding six million American youth take place annual annually and focuses on teaching research based learning to promote life skills, science and citizenship.

Known for connections to science, engineering and technology of land-grant universities and local youth and families, the 4H National Headquarters is at National Institute of Food & Agriculture NIFA and the USA programs are under the leadership of the United States Department of Agriculture.

To learn more about 4H, take a look at the curriculum or visit the 4H headquarters website.

At the moment, 4H programs can be found in every county of the USA and can be a good experience for kids to learn more about what is involved in agriculture.

For more information, you can learn how to be a member or volunteer by contacting the local cooperative extension office.

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk