The family of the original Wright County, Mo., sale barn owners to open a new facility
MOUNTAIN GROVE, MO. – The inaugural sale at the Wright County Livestock Auction is a couple of weeks away, but the new sale barn is creating a buzz in the Mountain Grove, Mo., area.
“Some of the older, retired guys just drive around and look,” Brandon Barton, one of the partners in the barn, said. “Everyone seems pretty excited and says they can’t wait for us to open so they can haul their cattle here. The community support has been great, and we have lots of buyers who will be coming. It’s a nice facility and built to handle a lot of cattle.”
Wright County Livestock is a partnership with Brandon and his wife Britney, his brother Bryce Lauderdale, his mother Renee Lauderdale, uncle Chuck Thompson, and Luke and Victoria Peterson. The owners are not new to the industry, having generations of experience behind them.
Thompson family patriarch Allen Thompson and his brothers – Steve, Skip and Mike – built the original Wright County Livestock Auction, which closed several years ago and is no longer a part of the Mountain Grove landscape. For Brandon and his family, who live in the Mountain Grove area, there has always been a desire to once again operate a barn in their hometown.
“When we were younger, my brother and I always wanted to have a sale barn back in Mountain Grove,” Brandon said. “When I was my son’s age, which is about 8, I would get off the school bus at the old barn.”
The land for the facility, located just off Highway 60, was purchased in November 2020, and construction got underway. Renee said the plan was to be open in summer 2021, a mark they will hit on Aug. 18 with their first weekly sale, which is expected to draw between 2,500 to 3,000 head.
The facility features about 100,000 square feet of shaded pens, including feed and water pins. In all, the facility has the capacity of about 3,500 head of cattle. The office, sale arena and kitchen areas are an additional 12,000 square feet of space. The layout of the new facility also allows for future expansion.
In addition to the weekly sale, a monthly cow sale is planned for the second Friday evening of each month. The September sale is expected to draw a large crowd and at least 650 head of cattle.
A small animal sale will be held the first Saturday of each month.
“The small animal sale will start with caged animals, like chickens and turkeys, then we will go in with the hooved animals, like sheep and goats,” Brandon explained.
The family also owns and operates the Salem Livestock Auction.
“We’ve had that sale for 18 years,” Brandon explained. “We will keep the one in Salem, but we have just wanted a barn here. There are about 65 miles between the two barns. We pull a lot of cattle from Mountain Grove to Salem; we’ve been pulling 500 to 600 head a week to Salem.”
Brandon added the weekly Monday sale at Salem would not interfere with the Wednesday sale at the new Mountain Grove facility.
“It really shouldn’t be a problem, other than a lack of sleep,” he said with a laugh.
Salem sale veterinarian Dr. Logan Williams, who is from Mountain Grove, will also be the veterinarian at Wright County Livestock. He will also have a sale-day office inside the newly-constructed facility.
Being local and knowledgeable of how a business operates is an advantage for the owners of Wright County Livestock.
“People know we can handle their cattle,” Brandon said.
The owners of Wright County Livestock Auction say they want to be of service to all livestock producers.
“It might be that guy who comes in and buys 10 calves to graze in the spring and then sell in the fall, or the guy who sells 100 head at a time,” Brandon said. “We will have our local buyers and a few from out of state. We are a family of farmers working for farmers. We will have trucking available, and if you need to bring your calves in early, we have those feed and water pens and are set up to handle them. If you need us to come look at your cattle and give you a price, or just to look at them, people can call us; we can cover a lot of ground.”
Building a livestock auction to a community, the family said, creates an economic boost for the community as a whole, as buyers and sellers spend money while they are in town.
“Everyone who comes to town fills up with gas, eats lunch, gets tires for their trailer,” Brandon said. “There’s a lot of money spent when farmers come to town. We are also going to have about 30 employees, and that all goes back to the local economy.”
Brandon and his partners are excited to get the first sale off, but there’s one person who could be stepping a little higher than others.
“Dad (Allen Thompson) already has his chair set up,” Renee said. “Uncle Skip said he couldn’t wait to get here. They are excited for us.”
“My grandpa is on cloud nine. He and his brothers had a pretty good business here, so we have some pretty big shoes to fill,” Brandon said. “He’s at Salem every week, keeping his thumb on things, and he’s owned sale barns for 45 years, and since the time I could walk, I’ve been carrying a shorting stick. It’s good to be back home in Mountain Grove.”