The Bignar family producers show-quality sheep and goats at Roux Livestock
Darren Bignar and his family, owners of Roux Livestock, are living the dream raising goats and sheep for show in Prairie Grove, Ark.
Darren and his wife Denise and their children have won competitions all over the state, but they also sell animals to 4-H Club and FFA kids interested in showing themselves.
The Bignars have been raising show animals for about 10 years, getting their start when their children became interested in competing.
“We started with one of my oldest daughters, Makenzie, when she was in high school. Bought a couple of goats just to show,” Darren explained. “It snowballed from there.”
Daughter Makayla got into it for a while as well, and now youngest daughter Rylie has become dedicated in raising and showing the Roux Livestock animals.
Much of their animal care knowledge Darren has gleaned from working at the University of Arkansas for the past 12 years. His current position is manager of the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center.
“I manage the science center and take care of all the teaching herds. We have sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, horses, everything here,” Darrin explained. “That’s influenced me a great big deal on what we do at home.” In the past he has also worked as a teacher and a researcher for U of A.
Currently, the Bignars have about one acre for raising their animals.
“We moved two years ago. We’ve got a better barn and everything set up right now with little runs and things for our show goats.”
At one point the Bignars had a total of 20 goats.
“We’ve knocked our numbers down so that we can take care of what few that we’ve got and do it right,” Darren remarked. He reported they have eight mature Boer does, two Nigerian Dwarfs and two registered Hampshire sheep.
Rylie now does much of the training.
“She just turned 13 this year,” Darren noted. “She’s a big part of what we do. She’s a really good showman.”
This year Rylie will be showing four Boer goats and five sheep.
Darren pointed out that Rylie handles her winnings responsibly and with future competitions in mind. “All the money she’s won from showing at jackpots and fairs and things she’s put back into it to buy does herself, so probably half the does she owns herself.”
Roux Livestock animals’ diet gets special attention from the Bignars.
“We try to feed the best possible feeds that we can and we are very strict on what we feed and always make sure to give them clean water,” Darren explained.
The Bignars plant and manage pasture foraging closely.
“When we can we try to provide things to eat that they want to eat,” Darren noted.
They also pay careful attention to where the animals are foraging.
“We try to rotate our animals around into different pastures to try to help with the parasite problems,” Darren explained.
He also takes a conservative approach to applying dewormers.
“I believe in trying to deworm when needed to where we don’t build up resistance in our herd to our dewormers,” Darrin said.
The Bignars have bred their animals both through AI and natural cover, and they base their breeding schedule on showing season.
“The county fairs are around August,” he noted. “So we want babies to be born around February and March.”
To make that deadline, the Bignars will breed their goats September and October.
The goats’ genetic line is important for Roux Livestock as well. Darren explained.
“The original Boer goat that came over here from Africa, that is an animal that within three months you could have an animal that’s weighing over 100 pounds. As far as show type animals that’s not something we really want. We want something that’s gonna be moderate to slow growth that’s gonna put more muscle on than bone growth.”
Through all the work of raising the animals at Roux Livestock, Darren said his favorite part is the people he has met.
“All over this state, people in Missouri, people in Kansas, several people over in Oklahoma, just from showing a little goat at the county fair, we have made lifelong friends,” Darren said.
All in all, working with animals and seeing his children raise and show them with care and passion seems like the ideal life for Darren.
“I get to get up every morning and I live in kind of a dream land,” Darrin remarked.