Licensed individuals with a doctorate in equine nutrition or veterinary medicine can enter the field of equine nutrition. Working in the field, in labs, or in academia, equine nutritionists possess a thorough understanding of equine anatomy as well as horses' physical and dietary needs.
An equine nutritionist specializes in the health, diet and feeding behaviors of horses. This professional may be either an animal scientist or a veterinarian who has special training in large animal or equine physiology, disease and nutrition.
Many individuals in this field have bachelor's degrees in equine studies or animal science as well as advanced degrees. Veterinarians must hold doctoral degrees in veterinary medicine and be licensed. Most animal scientists have earned doctoral degrees, and those specializing in equine nutrition focus their studies and research in that area. In addition to large animal veterinary practice, equine nutritionists can work at universities and animal feed manufacturing companies, among other options.
|Required Education||Doctoral degree in equine nutrition or veterinary medicine|
|Other Requirements||All states require veterinarians to be licensed|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||7% for animal scientists; 18% for veterinarians*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$58,380 for animal scientists; $93,830 for veterinarians*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Equine Nutritionist Job Description
Equine nutritionists typically have a background in general animal science but specialize in the needs of horses. They understand how digestive systems differ for horses with a variety of lifestyles--from racehorses to work horses--since their diets and nutritional needs may differ depending on the kinds of activities in which they're involved. Nutritionists detect horse health based on body condition and physical signs and then they have to design diets and feeding schedules; they use math and statistics to measure out how much feed a particular horse may eat in a sitting. Equine nutritionists may also need to consider the specific concerns of horse owners, such as their budgeting priorities.
Aspiring equine nutritionists may wish to complete a bachelor's degree program in animal science or equine studies with courses in animal anatomy and physiology, genetics, statistics, and biochemistry. Upon graduation, they may seek professional degrees such as a doctoral degree in veterinarian medicine or equine nutrition. After postgraduate studies, equine nutritionists can pursue further training; one continued learning opportunity is the large animal training track available to veterinarians through the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.
The salary of equine nutritionists depends on many factors, such as the location of their employment, educational level, and type of work. In May 2018, the BLS reported that veterinarians in the 90th percentile or higher earned $162,450 or more per year, whereas animal scientists in the 90th percentile or higher earned $113,430 or more per year.
According to the BLS, the employment opportunities of veterinarians are projected to increase much faster than the average between 2018 and 2028. For animal scientists, that projection increases faster than the average. These figures, however, do not reflect equine nutritionist experts who are self-employed or take into account wage differences for those with more or less education and experience.
An aspiring equine nutritionist would typically first complete a Bachelor of Science, and then pursue a doctoral degree, either in veterinary medicine or equine nutrition. In-depth study of horse health, anatomy and digestion, as well as nutrition for different types of horses and lifestyles, is necessary for success.