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Ruminant Nutrition Center

The Ruminant Nutrition Center (formerly the Beef Cattle Research Unit) serves as the university’s research center for feedlot production research. In order to simulate the conditions of a commercial cattle feedlot, the center’s feed equipment size and operation logistics are similar to that of a 15,000 head feedlot.

All of the cattle are purchased from outside of the university, and come almost exclusively from South Dakota. Throughout their time at the unit, they are weighed every 28 days, and are followed through the grading rail at packing plant. 

All of this means that the staff generates just as many feed records, batches and deliveries as a sizeable commercial feedlot. This comes up to around 4,000 cattle weighs, 20,000 feed deliveries, and 1,000 feed tests each year. By taking this approach the center’s research remains sensitive to the constraints of a commercial cattle operations.

Operating hours are normally from 7:00am to 5:00pm, seven days a week. Visitors are welcome anytime during the week, and on the weekend by appointment. 

Current Research Projects

  • Utilization of glycerol, a by-product of bio-diesel production, in cattle diets. (USDA Cooperative Agreement)
  • Interactions between Leptin genotype and production management systems on carcass quality and cutability.  (South Dakota Beef Industry Council)
  • Effect of fat content of distiller's grains on apparent Net Energy content.  (MWPMS)
  • Identifying management procedures to reduce marbling depression in beef cattle.  (Hatch- SDSU Ag Experiment Station)


  • Paul Schlobohm — Manager
  • Duane Smallfield
  • Dennis DeBoer