CANDID CONVERSATION WITH FREELANCE NUTRITIONIST

Dr. SK Bhardwaj is a renowned animal nutritionist with over 30 years of experience in the field. He specializes in formulating balanced diets, quality control, feed millings and various other aspects of livestock production. Currently he is a freelancer and has more than 50 clients. His expertise extends to research, academia and consultancy making significant contributions to poultry industry. Last week, I got a chance to have a candid conversation with him and discuss on his career, experience, professional development as a commercial nutritionist and his personal life. Poultry professionals, budding nutritionist, veterinarians and freshers can have so many takeaways from this conversation.

Work Experience:

  • Can you provide an overview of your career as a poultry nutritionist, including how you got started in this field?

After completing my Master program, I started my carrier with Cadbury India Limited as Quality Control Officer from 1991 to 1993. Gaining some work experience, I joined PhD program at CCSHAU Hisar (Animal Nutrition). I completed my doctorate programme in year 1997 in Ruminant nutrition and then started working as Research Associate in Department of Dairy Cattle Nutrition, NDRI Karnal where I worked for green house emission for 6 months. I rejoined CCSHAU Hisar as Research Associate in September 1997 and worked up to September 2004. During my academic associated tenure, I had published 8 research papers in national and international Journals, published reference book and 3 laboratory manuals as co-author. I also presented more than 50 oral and poster presentations in national and international conferences. 1st October 2004 was my commencement date of my commercial nutritionist career when I decided to shift my career from cattle nutrition to poultry nutrition and joined Skylark group as General Manager (Nutrition).

  • Could you describe some of the key responsibilities and tasks you perform in your role as a commercial poultry nutritionist?

I provide nutrition services as freelancer to feed millers, breeders and layer farmers in my country and out of country as well. In addition to this I help my customers for quality feed manufacturing technology, quality control and raw material & feed supplements procurement. Currently I am looking after more than 50 customers.

  • What are some of the challenges you generally encounter in your work, and how do you overcome them?

The major challenges me and my customers face are substandard medicines, feed supplement and adulteration in feed ingredients. To encounter this, I educate my customers and develop some quick test in laboratory to encounter this problem.

  • Can you share some of the notable achievements commercial nutritionists have achieved in South Asian conditions?

The notable achievement of commercial poultry nutritionists in South Asian conditions is the regular improvement in the FCR of broiler and decreasing the age of culling i.e., around 32-34 days average age of sale at 2 kg body weight, even when the climate is not favorable for poultry rearing.

  • What is the gap you see between academia and industry in terms of poultry nutrition research and usefulness?

The gap between academia and industry is decreasing slowly day by day but there is lot of the scope of research for academia. Universities and research institutes should have more interaction with industry and also open the research and laboratory facilities to the industry.

Personal Life:

  • Outside of your work as a poultry nutritionist, what are some of your hobbies and interests?

In addition to my job, I have interest to travel and visit holy places and I do so regularly whenever I have time.

  • How do you balance your professional life with your personal life, and do you find any overlap between the two?

It’s very difficult to balance the professional and personal life but I always try to stay at home as much as possible. My wife and son both are in job and they understand the value of work so, I don’t face much challenge and life is going smoothly.

  1. Are there any specific experiences or interests in your personal life that have influenced your career choices or approach to poultry nutrition?

My interest of driving and travelling to new places is very much beneficial for my professional career and I can travel by road, train or air without any tiredness and feel fresh even after so much of travel. I travel more than 20 days in month.

Career Growth:

  • What motivated you to pursue a career in poultry nutrition, and how did you decide to specialize in this field?

After completing successful 15 year of my association with Skylark I decided to share my knowledge and experience further by providing my services to multiple companies and not restricting it to one company. When I started freelance services, I got very quick response and I felt that the industry was waiting for such type of services. I do my job honestly and this poultry industry has motivated me to work more and more.

  • How do you stay updated with technical knowledge on nutrition? Have you pursued any additional education or certifications to advance your career as a poultry nutritionist?

I always try to attend different national and international seminars, conferences to upgrade my knowledge. Companies operating in poultry have technical people at national and international levels, I have technical discussions with them when they visit my place and this is quite often.

  • Can you describe any mentors or influential figures who have guided you in your career?

My mentor is my elder brother Dr M C Bhardwaj, currently he is principal in degree college, Ganganagar, Rajasthan. He regularly guides me from my childhood time. My father encourages me for honesty and hard work.

  • What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a poultry nutritionist or looking to advance their career in this field?

My sincere advice for newcomer nutritionist is to focus on their work and do their job honestly. Don’t use shortcuts for upliftment of professional career.

Professional Development:

  • How do you collaborate with other professionals in the poultry industry to stay at the forefront of poultry nutrition?

I collaborate with other nutritional professional through personal telephonic interaction, WhatsApp social media, email and meet personally in different seminars, symposiums and exhibitions.

  • Have you been involved in any industry associations or organizations related to poultry nutrition, and if so, how has this benefited your career?

No, I am not associated with any specific organization. I am occupied and associated with my clients only. There is so much of work to do.

  • Can you share any specific examples of how your career has evolved or grown over time, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way?

As per my working experience, I always believe in the organic growth which is little bit slow but stable. I have faced a lot of challenges in my life but have overcome all challenges and learned the lesson that regular hard work, doing it with honesty always pay you better in comparison to getting the help from unusual sources.

Conversation compiled by Dr Sushant Labh. He is passionate about poultry nutrition, Indian ingredients, performance and cost optimization. He interacts with nutritionist, researchers, poultry producers and disseminates new findings in poultry to the industry.

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