discovered and named vitamine, an amine vital for life. Later, this compound was renamed thiamin(e), and the term “vitamin” was applied to the whole nutrient class because all vitamines were not amines (Gubler, 1991). Dozens of talented specialists—among them nutritionists—were called upon to volunteer their services to the NRC, and almost immediately, the significance of animal nutrition became apparent.


In 1917, the Agriculture Committee of NRC organized a Subcommittee on Protein Metabolism in Animal Feeding chaired by Dr. Henry P. Armsby, Director of the Institute of Nutrition, Pennsylvania State College. The subcommittee produced a seven-page document entitled Plan for Cooperative Experiments on Protein Requirements for Growth in Cattle (National Research Council, 1917) to help resolve unanswered questions dealing with the minimum dietary nitrogen levels required to maximize productivity of cattle while minimizing usage of the supplemental proteins that were in short supply.

In 1919, the NRC Division of Biology and Agriculture formed a Committee on Food and Nutrition and divided its activities between a Subcommittee on Human Nutrition and a Subcommittee on Animal Nutrition. Dr. Armsby directed the work of this latter subcommittee until his death in 1922. Over the next four years, reports were published on experimental methods in animal production (National Research Council, 1923), the results of cooperative studies of protein requirements for growth of cattle (National Research Council, 1924), and determination of protein requirements of animals and protein concentrations in feedstuffs (National Research Council, 1926).

Following discharge of the Committee on Food and Nutrition in 1928, the Committee on Animal Nutrition was formed, and it has now been a standing committee of the NRC for over 70 years. Dr. Paul E. Howe, a nutritional biochemist with the Bureau of Animal Industry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, chaired the committee until 1941.


The early years of CAN's service coincided with the depression of the late 1920s and 1930s. Many farm families did not have electricity in their homes. There was much suffering in rural America, not for lack of electricity, but because commodity prices were so low. Farmers also were discouraged because of the long period of drought in the Central and Southern Plains — the dust bowl. Serious problems both with the welfare of our people and the welfare of our food production system were rapidly developing.

But many exciting discoveries also were taking place. During this period, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin K, cobalt, and certain fatty acids were identified as essential nutrients. And these new bits of

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