Dale Steinhoff, left, is the owner of El Dorado Springs Livestock Market, and the sale barn in Lockwood,Mo. HIs son-in-law Mark Maltsberger, right, works with Dale. Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford.
Dale Steinhoff, left, is the owner of El Dorado Springs Livestock Market, and the sale barn in Lockwood,Mo. His son-in-law Mark Maltsberger, right, works with Dale. Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford.

Dale Steinhoff has owned livestock markets in Missouri and Nebraska

EL DORADO SPRINGS, MO. – Dale Steinhoff’s family has been involved in the livestock marketing industry for generations. His father, Ralph Steinhoff, was a cattle buyer and part owner in a barn, and his grandfather, Henry Steinhoff, owned livestock markets.

Dale started holding his own sales at a young age, selling pies at fundraisers when he was just in the third or fourth grade. 

“I have just always enjoyed auctioneering,” Dale said. 

After high school, Dale obtained an associates degree in veterinary technology, with plans to head to Kansas State to become a veterinarian, but Uncle Sam came calling first. 

In 1969, his number was called for the draft during the Vietnam War. Dale joined the Navy, serving four years as a submarine sailor, but he always had plans to get back to what he loved most – selling livestock.

“About three months before I got out of the service, a sale barn came up for sale in Syracuse, Neb., and my grandpa had built it,” Dale recalled. “They two guys who had it, one had died, and the other one was in the hospital, and I bought it. I had it three or four years before a firebug burned me out, taking out a feed store and a Ford dealership. The city wouldn’t let me rebuild in the city limits. Another guy in Palmyra, Neb., said he had some land he would sell me, cheap, so I built a barn there. 

Dale built the Southeast Nebraska Livestock Auction and had his first sale in 1980. After running the business for decades, Dale came to Missouri, but remained in the livestock marketing business. 

“I turned (the Nebraska barn) over to my youngest son Brad,” Dale recalled. “Then my oldest son said he wanted a sale barn, so I bought one in Butler, Mo. When that didn’t work out, I came down to run it. Brad’s still running the one in Nebraska today.”

In 2008, Dale made an offer on the then-closed El Dorado Springs Livestock Market. 

“The bank wanted the barn in Nevada tied in with it, but I didn’t want that barn,” Dale said. “I’ve been running it since then.” 

Dale said believes the sale originally began in about 1980. 

Wednesdays are the weekly sale at El Dorado Springs Livestock Market, with cattle and hog sales the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, and the third Saturday of each month is the sheep and goat sale. 

“I stay busy; busy enough for my age,” Dale said, adding that he’s in his 70s. “But I enjoy what I do.”

About four years ago, Dale planned to team up with a longtime friend to purchase the Lockwood Sale Barn, but after his partner experienced sudden and debilitating health issues, Dale bought the auction on his own.

El Dorado Springs Livestock Market mostly sells sheep and goats, but some cattle also. Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford.
Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford

“I never backed out on a deal,” Dale said. “We wanted to have a sheep and goat sale and holding yards there; we thought it would be a good combination. Now, we go down there once a month and have a sale. Sales are on the first Saturday of each month. We run mostly sheep and goats but get some cattle.”

Animals sold at both barns are vet checked prior to sale. “We want healthy animals to come through,” Dale said, adding that El Dorado Springs Livestock Market always has feed and water pens available and can hold cattle for prior to sale day. “We treat them like our own when they come in and take care of them.”

Trucking is available, with the job going to Dale and his son-in-law Mark Maltsberger.

“It’s just customer service,” said. “A bigger barn would have to hire an employee and have a truck and trailer. Here, we use our own stuff.” 

He added that Mark is a tremendous asset to him and the barn. 

“He came down here from Nebraska and didn’t know what a cow was,” Dale said of Mark. “But he does everything here now, auctioneering and everything. He does a really good job.” 

Livestock sales dot the Ozarks, but Dale said what makes his sales a little different are they are community sales, selling everything from equipment to cattle, poultry to goats, and sheep to pigs. 

“We also have those miscellaneous sales,” Dale said. “As long as it’s legal, we will sell it. Most of my customers are smaller guys, and we try to cater to them.”

Since coming to the Ozarks, Dale has seen an uptick in the sheep and goat markets, which has long been a strong market in Nebraska. 

“I’ve made most of my living selling sheep,” he said. “Here it’s haired sheep, but up in Nebraska, it was wooled sheep. There’s starting to be more haired sheep up there, too, because wool isn’t worth what it used to be, and you can’t find anyone to shear them. Here, the most dollars that are traded are in sheep and goat sales.”

He added the market for sheep and goats fluctuates, with higher sales coming closer to specific holidays, and the season. Most of the sheep and goat buyers come from outside the area. 

Other livestock classes are purchased by local producers.

“Folks can buy animals here and know they are local,” Dale said, adding that many of his customers want only a few head for their own use. 

The livestock market industry isn’t the only thing that runs deep in the Steinhoff family tree. Dale grew up on a horned Hereford ranch in Nebraska and still owns a farm there.

“We had about 1,000 acres and ran 200 momma cows,” Dale recalled. “I stacked a lot of loose hay. We still have 250 acres up there and farm it from ditch to ditch.”

Dale has no plans of retiring; his customers, after all, depend on him.

“My customers are the best; I have some very good customers,” he said. “Most of them are honest folks, people who say things and they mean it. We want to keep our money local. I want to keep doing this until the day I die. I enjoy what I do. The sale barn industry has been my bread and butter.”

Pigs ready for sale at El Dorado Springs Livestock Market in Missouri. Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford.
Photo by Julie Turner-Crawford


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