Upon learning he’d been selected for the 2012 Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame Industry Leadership Award, University of Nebraska animal science professor Terry Klopfenstein says he was surprised. Very few others were though, as Klopfenstein’s long and dedicated service has made a significant impact on beef producers around the country.
Klopfenstein took a position with the University of Nebraska in 1965, after completing his PhD in ruminant nutrition at Ohio State University. Reflecting back on his years at UNL, he says his work with students stands out as the most gratifying. He has advised about 150 graduate students over his career, many of whom now are working in and having an impact on the beef industry. About 25 of his former students work as consulting nutritionists, directly influencing programs in feedyards around the country.
Klopfenstein also helped oversee UNL’s Feedlot Management Specialization program, which provided student internships in Nebraska feedyards. Over 20 years, the program has provided hands-on cattle-feeding experience to about 125 students. University of Nebraska emeritus beef specialist Ivan G. Rush, PhD, who worked at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, says the training and work ethic of the students created strong demand from feedyards, and he recalls one manager saying he would employ every intern the program had to offer. Rush describes Klopfenstein as one of the leading professors in the land-grant university system.
One of Klopfenstein’s former students, cattle feeder Alan Janzen, enrolled in his ruminant nutrition courses at the university in 1981 and 1982. Janzen now owns and operates Circle Five Beef, a commercial feedyard near Henderson in eastern Nebraska. Over the past three decades, Janzen has collaborated with Klopfenstein in feeding trials and utilized results from UNL research. He credits Klopfenstein and the UNL team with recognizing early the opportunity to use ethanol byproducts in cattle feeding and conducting a variety of trials that have helped cattle feeders use those products efficiently and cost effectively.
While Janzen appreciates the value of basic scientific research, he says Klopfenstein has excelled at identifying subjects for applied research with direct benefits to cattle feeders. Toward that goal, Rush says Klopfenstein and the UNL animal science team have fostered cooperation between stakeholder groups over the years, organizing joint meetings with cattle feeders, corn growers, ethanol manufacturers and university researchers to discuss and brainstorm on research priorities.