Arkansas Cattle Auction draws sellers, buyers from around the state and beyond

Although it’s in the middle of the White County town of Searcy, Ark., the sign over the barn reads, “Arkansas Cattle Auction.”
“We were just going to reach out, and hopefully have this good central point for a livestock auction. We have reached out several miles, and brought a lot of cattle into central Arkansas here,” owner Randy Goodman told Ozarks Farm & Neighbor about the livestock market’s name.
In fact, in 2014 the sale barn attracted a record number of cattle – over 44,000 head.
Goodman said after they acquired the auction in 2007, they remodeled the old barn and have had good runs since.
“We have a capacity of 2,000-plus head of cattle here, and have seen almost that many here to test it,” he said. “In our business, we strive to sell fresh cattle. We don’t have a lot of ‘jockey’ cattle (brought in from another sale barn) here; all these cattle come in from local farmers, in about a 100-mile radius. We just focus on honesty, and try to work for the farmers and do a good job marketing their cattle.”
Goodman came to the stockyard with 30 years’ experience in the cattle business.
“I’ve always been in the cattle business, and I’ve kind of enjoyed cattle trading and raising, all of the above, and ventured off into cattle marketing and stayed there,” he said.
Goodman co-operates the auction with his wife, Melissa, who told OFN she does “a little bit of everything.”
“I do work in the office a good bit during the week, and on sale day for sure,” she said. “Whatever Randy needs me to do, I just enjoy working with him.”
The Goodmans also have their own cow/calf and stocker cattle herd.
The weekly sale at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays attracts eight to 10 buyers, along with local farmers who need to restock their herds or are looking for stockers. In addition, Arkansas Cattle Auction conducts preconditioned calf and yearling sales about every three months, several special cow sales and Saturday sales throughout the year. Randy is a member of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, which sponsors his bred heifer sales.
Sales can be seen live on the Internet, through the web site Customers can register and even buy online. Randy said they’ve had participants as far away as Nebraska, but most of the online buyers are “older farmers that like to buy a few stock cows; they like to look on line and see what these calves are bringing, and bring their cattle to market when it’s good.”
“The on line sales have actually encouraged people to bring their cattle here to market with our barn, because they’re able to watch things on line,” Melissa added. “They like what they see as far as the prices, or the way we operate the business. We’ve had several new customers come on board just because of that, so it’s been a good asset for us.”
Bob Smith is a satisfied customer. The Searcy rancher, who runs 180 mixed breed cows and calves, told OFN, “I bring everything I have here. Randy’s a good guy and treats everybody fair, I think. I like coming here, and he’ll help you out any way that he can. I think it’s as good a market as there is anywhere.”
Randy Goodman is the ring man at the sale, and sets the opening price for the cattle. He said barring a flaw, they never go backward.
“I’m willing to take the risk if there’s not someone here to buy the cattle at that price,” he said. “We actually own, and don’t go backwards until someone raises their hand. The farmers like that; they don’t like it when their cattle are set in their price, and run back $20 a hundred.”
Numbers in 2015 are down a bit from last year’s record. Goodman attributes that to cattle being held back to fill on this season’s good grass, and is hoping for a good fall.
Randy believes his type of operation is here to stay.
“I think you’ve got to focus on the farmer first, and being here for the farmer when he needs you,” Randy said. “I plan on staying here for a long time, until I retire. I’m not going anywhere.”


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