A man of many firsts will add another to his long list in August. Kenneth Eng will be the first feedlot nutritionist to be honored with the Industry Achievement Award at the 2012 Feeding Quality Forum.

After earning his PhD at Oklahoma State University, the Nebraska native went on to Texas A&M to create the nation’s first graduate program in feedlot management. Then, it was time for Eng to embark on another budding industry – the feedlot nutrition consulting business.

“One of the very important pioneers in the early years of large-scale cattle feeding was Kenny Eng,” said Larry Corah, vice president for supply development with Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB). “As the feedlot industry began to develop to 20,000- and 50,000- and then 100,000-head yards and more at that time, the piece that really made it work was this small group of consulting nutritionists and veterinarians that learned how to keep cattle healthy and adapt to that environment. Kenny was one of those guys.”

The Industry Achievement Award was created in 2010 by the sponsors of the Feeding Quality Forum – Pfizer Animal Health, Purina, CAB and Feedlot magazine – to honor individuals who “have had a real impact on the feedlot industry and have affected how it looks and runs today,” Corah said. Eng will join the ranks of cattle feeding legends Paul Engler and Max Deets at the sixth annual event.

While still teaching classes at Texas A&M in 1969, Eng started a private feedlot consulting business. As one of only seven in the profession at the time, he said, “It was an easy way to make a hard living.” Easy because there were so few other consultants to compete with for business; hard because of the growing number of feedlots scattered across the country with managers thirsty for technical knowledge on how to improve performance in their yards. 

“I was just lucky to be a part of a very talented group of people then who got to be a part of an exciting time in the feedlot business,” Eng said. “I think the seven of us did the nutrition work for about 65% of the cattle on feed in the United States. Not 65% of the feedlots but 65% of the cattle. There was a lot of work out there.”

Eng slowed the pace of his consulting business in the late ’80s to focus more on his beef production businesses, but not before leaving his indelible mark.

“Kenny was one of the original independent consultants, and he moved a lot of rocks for the rest of us to get involved in this business,” said Dave McClellan of McClellan Consulting Service. “He’s been a great mentor to an awful lot of people in our business, and not just nutritionists – feedlot managers, feedlot owners, stocker operators, you name it.”

A resource and source of practical application knowledge to the masses, Eng also spent years writing a column for Feedstuffs magazine. Fellow consultant David Hutcheson, of Animal Agriculture Consulting Inc., said Eng’s knack for data and willingness to share information has made him a fixture at industry conferences, meetings and in the field.

“Ken’s an excellent interpreter of research and he’s given many, many talks over the years that have contributed to the advancement of nutrition in feedlot cattle,” Hutcheson said.

Continuing his dedication to the advancement of the cattle industry, Eng recently established a foundation to help fund new research at the University of Nebraska, Oklahoma State University and Texas A&M. (Read more about the Eng Foundation here.)

“Ken’s been very successful in his business career, and he’s one of those rare individuals who really understands the concept of giving back to the industry,” said Bill Dicke of Cattlemen’s Nutrition Services.

The research will focus on confined cattle feeding, a concept Eng said he hopes will eventually help the industry expand the cowherd and move forward.

“That’s something special about Kenny,” Corah said. “Here’s a feedlot guy, once again thinking about how to help the cow-calf guy for the larger good of the whole supply chain. He’s still pioneering and leading with information in this industry.”

Eng will be honored at the Feeding Quality Forums Aug. 28 in Grand Island, NE, and Aug. 30 in Amarillo, Texas. Other topics of discussion at the Forums will include a market outlook by Dan Basse, president of AgResource Company; the impact of increasing carcass weights by Shawn Walter of Professional Cattle Consultants; and dealing with declining inventories amid excess feeding and packing capacities by Mike Sands, Informa Economics. For more information or to register, visit www.CABpartners.com.