KNG Beef Nutritionist
As a little boy in Nebraska, Brandon Koch remembers being allowed to miss a week of kindergarten to ride in tractors and help harvest silage – an experience he says likely ignited his passion for production agriculture. A couple years later he started showing calves for 4-H, and while he didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to feed products back then, he was familiar with the Kent name. Decades later when Koch went to work for Kent Nutrition Group (KNG), his grandfather reminded him why: 34% Baby Beef – the original Kent feed that started it all.
“It was the first feed, back in 1927 that put Kent on the map,” Koch says. “My grandfather fed it to my aunt’s show cattle. We still make it, we still sell it . . . it’s still ‘the feed without the filler’.”
Koch (pronounced “Cook”) went to work for Kent after earning his PhD in Animal and Veterinary Sciences from Clemson University. Vice President of Nutrition and Product Development Bruce Read scheduled a 30-minute meet-and-greet with Koch, but their talk stretched into a 4.5-hour interview that left him convinced he had found the perfect company partner.
“When I was going through schooling, I remember always thinking, ‘I am not going to have a job unless people are producing cattle, and they have to be profitable or they’re not going to produce cattle,’” Koch says. “Everything we do at Kent is driven to make sure our customers are profitable. That’s what I like about working here.”
As Beef Nutritionist, Koch focuses on all phases of the beef industry, including product formulation, development, research and technical service – the latter of which he truly enjoys. Assisting producers directly, whether over the phone or in person, keeps the work “real,” he says. If a producer has a question, they can call Koch directly for answers. And he makes doctor’s rounds too, routinely traveling to operations in the Midwest and Eastern regions whenever feedlot questions come up, or to help with general nutrition concerns such as diet guidelines or treatment plans.
He’s not exactly a lab coat kind of guy. Most days Koch wears slacks, boots and a buttoned-up shirt and can be found at his desk, working on formulations and research reports. But a good part of his time is spent in jeans outside, working at KNG’s 800-acre Product Development Center, or surveying pastures and pens of cattle on service calls.
“Some days I’m weighing cattle in the morning, then changing and coming into the office in the afternoon,” Koch says. “There’s not a single day that’s like another one.”
With many of his cousins still running family cattle operations in Nebraska, Koch says his work in education and animal nutrition extends to their future as producers. As parents and grandparents retire, Koch sees an increase in younger generations coming back to the farm, and expectations for “What’s next? What’s new?” are growing.
“Kent wouldn’t be here after 91 years if we didn’t adapt with the times and grow,” Koch says. “Even when we have a great product that’s worked consistently for years, we’re still pushing to innovate. That’s what we do.”
Dr. Brandon Koch lives with his wife Louisa, and two self-sufficient cats in Port Byron, Illinois. He enjoys spending time with his family, being outside and traveling.