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Ruminant Nutritionist

Formulate healthy diets for cattle, sheep, and other animals.

What does a Ruminant Nutritionist do?

As a Ruminant Nutritionist, you focus on determining the best diet and nutrients for ruminant animals. Defined as animals that “chew the cud regurgitated from their rumen” (the first compartment of their stomach), ruminants include cows, sheep, antelopes, deer, and giraffes, among other animals.

Commonly employed by large farming organizations, animal feed manufacturers, zoos, and research facilities, Ruminant Nutritionists are responsible for finding the right combination of nutrients to produce a desired outcome. For example, if employed by a large dairy farm, you determine what impact changes in diet have on milk production. The addition of vitamin D may increase production, while iron may reduce it. As a Ruminant Nutritionist, you learn through trial and error (without harming the animal, of course), and experiment to find the best combination.

Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential for this position, as you’re responsible for reporting your findings. After finishing the research and getting the results, you share them with the rest of the team. Through written reports and oral presentations (think slide shows), you articulate what you’ve found and how that will affect the profitability of the business.

Keen attention to detail is also crucial as you conduct experiments in the laboratory and field. You’ll be hard at work on these experiments, but the excitement of finding a new variation or combination of nutrients to help the animals (and profits) thrive will keep you going until the cows come home.