Dairy Nutritionist

Posted by Daniel Simmons on Jan 23, 2017 10:52:09 AM

A dairy nutritionist is someone who monitors the condition of dairy cattle and helps develop optimal feeding programs based on the goals of individual dairy producers. His or her goal is to feed dairy cattle to ensure overall health and wellness, which will allow the herd to meet or exceed production goals. Travel may be necessary as a nutritionist may work with multiple clients.  Most dairy nutritionists work a local territory and have no overnight travel.  Some independent dairy nutritionists travel across state lines working with large herds.

What Does A Dairy Nutritionist Do?

Dairy Nutritionists are closely involved with diet management. Tasks include formulating diets, lab sample analysis, adjusting rations, sourcing and adjusting feeds and supplements, keeping detailed records, marketing products and the use of body condition scoring to evaluate each member of the herd. They will spend a significant portion of their time in an office to analyze data. However, most spend the majority of their time on dairy farms working with producers solving problems, optimizing resources and evaluating the animals and systems, offering suggestions for improvements.  Most often there is a sales aspect to the job as the nutritionist must develop their clientele.

Desired Educational Attainment

Most employers prefer candidates with a Masters or a Doctoral degree in animal science, dairy science or one from a closely related area like veterinary medicine. Feed companies will usually consider someone who has solid experience working closely with dairy cattle and an applicable Bachelors degree. This person must be familiar with body condition scoring and bovine behavior too. Many companies desire to hire someone who grew up on a dairy farm who instinctively understands cows.

Since his or her job will involve using various software, the person should be familiar with these programs or at least be teachable. The ideal candidate will be comfortable with analyzing data from lab reports. Therefore, companies will be more interested in candidates who have had dairy internships and is hands-on with dairy cattle.

Who They Work With

The dairy nutritionist works closely with the farm management team and the bovine veterinarian. They are the people who will help him or her ensure the well-being of the dairy herd.

What They Use

Software (fitbits) may be necessary to keep track of the health of each member of the dairy herd. Feed software will be used to compute rations (Dalex, CPM, Brill).

Career Options

A dairy nutritionist will have many career options available to them. They may work in livestock management, dairy farms and even feed development. They may choose academia or decide to take on a marketing position as well.

They may work independently to consult for some prospects-turned-clients or choose to employment with a feed or mineral company or even large individual farms.


Salary will depend on the type of employment the aspiring candidate chooses. Previous experience, educational attainment and the going rate in the location are key factors to consider as well.

Overall, salary will range from mid five figures to six figures. A successful independent consultant may earn $85K to $200K+. Starting salaries for new graduates fall in the $35K to $40K range. Experienced individuals who work for major companies may earn a higher salary within the $65K to $125K range.

Employed dairy nutritionists normally have healthcare benefits, vacation leave, a company car or car allowance and incentives based on the company’s rewards program.

Career Growth Potential

The dairy industry is expected to grow to cope with global demand. This growth means that more companies will want to expand operations and hire more dairy nutritionists, who have the latest skills and the deepest understanding. Many companies promote internally as well for higher positions like sales managers, product development or marketing. Most of them would consider promoting promising dairy nutritionists to these roles.  Dairy nutritionists with advanced degrees can move into technical support or research and development roles.

There are normally job postings for dairy nutritionists on this job board.  Browse these postings to learn more and find opportunities in your region.

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