The Role of an Equine Nutritionist: My First Three Months at Dengie
I can’t believe I have been at Dengie for three months already – time certainly flies when you’re having fun! It’s always daunting starting a new job, especially when you have been working somewhere else for years; you have your routines and generally know what’s what. So even though I had been doing a similar role previously, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. However the Dengie team have all made me feel extremely welcome. On my first day, they even ordered in takeaway pizzas, and we all sat round and had lunch together so I could get to know them which was lovely.
My manager, Dr Katie Williams, who is Dengie’s Technical and Product Development Manager, is fantastic and so supportive. I have been lucky enough to attend some of her talks, as well as spending time with nutritionists Tracey Hammond and Claire Akers doing weigh bridge and feed advice clinics, visiting some of Dengie’s supported riders, and seeing the famous ‘Harry the Gut’ talk in action, using a life size model of the horse’s digestive system.
When I’m in the office, I generally spend my time working on various projects and writing articles, as well as speaking to horse owners and giving feed advice on the phone and via email. We all do this job because we love horses, so it’s always a great feeling when our advice is able to make a real positive difference, particularly when dealing with more complex cases, performance horses, elderly horses or those with various health problems. Job satisfaction definitely hits the mark in these cases!
A group of us often go out for a walk at lunchtimes, which is a great way to get some fresh air and refresh the brain ready for the afternoon. We’re really lucky that our office is surrounded by fields, so there are lots of lovely places to walk – although wellies are a must! Dengie’s head office is about 15 miles away, and this is a much bigger site where all the feeds are made. I went there for some of my training when I first started, and it’s fascinating to see how the enormous bales of alfalfa and other raw materials are transformed into the Dengie feeds we know so well.
Considering a career in equine nutrition? Here are my top tips:
- Specific equine nutritionist jobs are really limited, so don’t be afraid to apply for roles in sales or marketing with a feed company, as it will help you get your foot in the door and you will often spend a lot of time with the nutrition team anyway.
- Most employers will be looking for a bachelor’s degree in equine or animal science, though it’s even better if you have a relevant master’s degree too. Try and choose nutrition-based modules as much as possible.
- Although academic study is definitely important, it’s also useful to spend as much time as you can experiencing the equine industry first hand. Whether you have your own horse or not, work experience in a variety of different equestrian settings will help you to relate better to the various horse owners and professionals you might speak to as a nutritionist. Think competition yards, veterinary hospitals, studs, racing yards, and so on.
- Many horse feed companies also produce feeds for other animals, so having even a basic knowledge of animals like cows, sheep or chickens can be helpful.
- Remember that this is not purely a horsey job – you need to be happy talking to people too!
- Say yes to any experiences or opportunities that come your way, whether or not they seem relevant – you never know what might make your CV stand out.
For more information about Dengie’s feeds or for help and advice on all aspects of feeding call the Dengie Feedline: 01621 841188 or complete our Feed Advice Form.