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You are here: Home / News / Steve Armbruster, a cut above the herd and a Legend of Feedlot Nutrition

Steve Armbruster, a cut above the herd and a Legend of Feedlot Nutrition

The Plains Nutrition Council (PNC) is the “flagship” professional organization for consulting feedlot cattle nutritionists across the U.S. and many other countries. Steve Armbruster was recently recognized as a “Legend of Feedlot Nutrition” (consultant category) by the PNC at its 2019 annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. No other university has had faculty receive the Legends of Feedlot Nutrition award in all three categories, Academia, Extension, and Consultant.

The Plains Nutrition Council (PNC) is the “flagship” professional organization for consulting feedlot cattle nutritionists across the U.S. and many other countries. Steve Armbruster was recently recognized as a “Legend of Feedlot Nutrition” (consultant category) by the PNC at its annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The purpose of the award is to honor those “who have contributed to and have had a profound and lasting impact on the feedlot industry as it relates to innovation, leadership, advancement, service and education in the area of feedlot nutrition.”

Armbruster was born in Hardtner, Kansas, and grew up on a wheat and beef cattle operation near Burlington, Oklahoma, where he graduated Burlington High School. He received his B.S. degree in agricultural economics in 1967 and his M.S. degree in animal science in 1969, both from Oklahoma State University. He then continued his education at the University of Nebraska where he completed his Ph.D. in ruminant nutrition.

Armbruster worked as an extension feedlot specialist at Kansas State University and as a consulting nutritionist with Scott-Pro, Inc. in Scott City, Kansas, prior to joining the animal science faculty at Oklahoma State University in 1975 as an extension beef cattle specialist. At OSU, he was responsible for extension programs in cow/calf and stocker cattle nutrition and management and for research in cow/calf nutrition and management.

He formed Steve Armbruster Consulting, Inc. in 1981 to focus on consulting work in feedlot cattle nutrition and management, and quickly distinguished himself as one of the premier independent consultants in the feedlot industry. At one time, his firm served clients with upwards of 1.5 million cattle on feed. Armbruster is a visionary, and constantly sought to provide cutting-edge advice and service to his clients and to continually grow and reposition his firm always with total transparency and the best interest of his clients as the paramount driving force. John Rakestraw, one of Armbruster’s former clients and former president and CEO of ContiBeef,, alluded to a few of Armbruster’s many impacts on the feedlot industry.

“Dr. Armbruster was a very early catalyst for the development and use of portable computer technology for making daily feedlot management decisions,” Rakestraw said. “He worked with in-house company programmers to transition feedlots from hand-written feed sheets to computer records. This greatly decreased the time from initial morning feed calls to when cattle were first fed. He was an early herald and teacher of the importance of cattle comfort long before animal well-being became a contemporary issue, and pioneered much of the thinking about how cattle were managed during the step-up period in order to minimize acidosis and feed aversions with the goal of maximizing intakes during finishing. Steve is known as a consummate teacher and mentor. He taught basic animal husbandry to individuals that often had little to no livestock experience, and taught bunk readers to incorporate cattle behavior into their feed calls.”

Troy Sander, operations manager for Heritage Beef, LLC, first met Armbruster on his first day of work as a management trainee at XIT Feeders in Dalhart, Texas, in June 1991. Armbruster served as his nutritional consultant and confidant for the next 27 years as Troy navigated his career in the cattle feeding industry.

“He formulated, measured, monitored, and taught,” Sander said. “His efforts were as diligent, consistent, and thorough as any I had ever seen. His integrity, poise and tactfulness continued to influence others as it did me, so many years earlier. A true gentlemen and scholar who never missed an opportunity to do what was best for the cattle, people and businesses for whom he worked. He always demonstrated an extreme level of professionalism that never changed no matter the circumstance.”

Armbruster has mentored many undergraduate and graduate students through job shadowing ‘ride alongs,’ as well as many young company nutritionists during his service on advisory boards. Colton Robison, current Ph.D. student in the OSU Department of Animal and Food Sciences, was able to learn much from Armbruster.

“My time on a job shadowing trip with Dr. Armbruster proved to be invaluable, and I learned more about applied feedlot nutrition and feed management in two days than I could have possibly imagined,” Robison said. “Above all else, I was shown the value of being a genuine intellectual and thoughtful professional.”

Many will tell you that no one taught them more about the industry or had a greater influence on them as a person and professional. Armbruster has greatly impacted the present and future human resources of the feedlot industry.

By Gerald Horn

Steve Armbruster receives 2019 Legend of Feedlot Nutrition award.

Pictured (left to right): Wade Nichols (president of PNC), Patty Armbruster, and Steve Armbruster

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Armbruster has remained a steadfast supporter of the OSU Animal Science Alumni Association (ASAA). Some of his contributions to and/or recognitions by OSU include: Recipient of the Totusek Lectureship (1999), Advanced Degree Graduate of Distinction Award (2001), president of the ASAA (2009), and presidential appointee to the ASAA Board of Directors (2010 to present). Armbruster and his wife, Patty, were recognized with the Totusek Award of Excellence at the 2017 ASAA Gala.

Fred Owens and Don Gill, emeritus OSU faculty, also received the PNC Legends of Feedlot Nutrition award (Academia/Extension category) in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The ASAA Alumni Update, Spring 2019, included an article about Dr. Gill. No other university has had faculty receive the Legends of Feedlot Nutrition award in all three categories, Academia, Extension, and Consultant.

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