The beef business lost one of its pioneers Friday, Feb. 28, with the passing of Kenneth Eng.
Eng started life as a Nebraska farm boy. According to the Norfolk, Neb., Daily News, “Kenneth Eng, 82, died at his home in Columbia, Miss. Funeral services were Wednesday, March 4, at Shell Creek Lutheran Church in Newman Grove, Neb., with Rev. Terry Larson officiating. A visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m., Friday, March 6, 2020 at Memorial Funeral Chapel in Bryan, Texas. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, March 7, 2020 at First Baptist Church in Bryan. Interment will follow at Shiloh Cemetery in Robertson County, Texas.
Among Eng’s many accolades, he was named the 2013 BEEF Trailblazer by BEEF magazine. In the article announcing Eng as the BEEF Trailblazer, then-Editor Joe Roybal wrote, “Eng began his professional career in 1962 with a young family, a fresh Ph.D. in animal nutrition from Oklahoma State University, and a research position at Texas A&M University’s (TAMU) Gulf Coast Research Station in Angleton.
“He assumed he’d spend 30-40 years in academia, hoping to save enough money to retire to a small ranch where he could raise a few cows and horses. But anyone familiar with Eng’s full-bore personality could probably have told the Boone/Madison County, Neb., farm kid that academia might not provide enough action for him.
“Eng spent three years at TAMU (he would come back later to develop and head its M.S. program in feedlot management). He became Ralston-Purina’s first technical feedlot consultant in 1965. A few years after that, he hung out his shingle as one of the early consulting nutritionists who were helping boost the efficiencies of a surging commercial cattle feeding industry in the Southern Plains and western U.S.”
Beyond a career as a consulting feedyard nutritionist, Eng was also a prolific writer. He authored more than 600 articles during his career, including the “Beef Bottom Line” column for 30 years for Feedstuffs. He penned seven books of poetry and produced 10 calendars.
His final book, “Started Small & Just Got Lucky,” is both autobiographical and historical in that his professional career roughly paralleled the rise and maturity of commercial cattle feeding. The book is packed with Eng’s retelling of numerous interesting and hilarious anecdotes that occurred during his long and adventurous career.
Eng was also a successful rancher, owning operations in a number of states. As time progressed, he sold many of those ranches and used the proceeds to start the Dr. Kenneth S. and Caroline McDonald Eng Foundation in honor of his late wife, Caroline. It consists of a total endowment of $2 million to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Oklahoma State University and TAMU to fund research in cow efficiency.
“Kenny was bigger than life in many ways. He was an internationally respected ruminant nutritionist, but equally renowned for his sense of humor, ability to enjoy life and entertain friends with his poetry,” Ross Wilson, Texas Cattle Feeders Association president and CEO, said. “Please keep Dr. Eng’s family in your prayers.”