Welcome to Blue Grass Stockyards
Thank you for visiting the Blue Grass Stockyards & Regional Marketplace! We hope you have a wonderful time during your visit. We have put together information that will help you navigate and explore our new facility. If you have any questions, please feel free to stop by our Blue Grass Stockyards offices. Again, we are so glad you came!
To book a guided tour, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Blue Grass Stockyards was founded in 1946 when seven local livestock men originally from Clay Watts Stockyards purchased the Swift Buying Station, a historical meatpacking business on the edge of downtown Lexington in a rural part of the county. Over the years, the city of Lexington grew up around Blue Grass Stockyards, eventually making the market part of the inner-city. In 2006, after a failed attempt to move out of downtown Lexington, the company began expanding through acquisition and new construction. This led to the creation of seven live sale satellite locations throughout Kentucky and an online sale system encompassing much of the southeast cattle market.
Blue Grass Stockyards underwent another period of transition in January 2016 when the downtown Lexington location tragically burned, resulting in a full facility loss. However, immediately after the fire, the owners and community leaders rallied to rebuild. Stockyards leaders led by the vision of managing partner Gene Barber planned to build a facility that would become a center of agriculture commerce and culture. The new facility, Blue Grass Regional Marketplace, celebrated it's Grand Opening on September 11, 2017.
Among the new facility’s many advantages, the location next to the interstate improves customers’ access to auction markets. Additionally, Blue Grass Stockyards is now proud to host fifteen agricultural businesses that include a Kentucky Proud meat shop, farrier supply, western-wear store, and top-notch Southern-fare restaurant. Recognizing the importance of promoting agriculture to future generations and to the general public, classroom and event space is also available for visiting groups. Since opening, the Stockyards’s new facility has hosted many special events including festivals, live music, and national purebred cattle sales.
Kentucky is able to produce renowned beef for the same reasons it is able to produce excellent bourbon and swift horses. In fact, the rich natural resources of the Bluegrass have made Kentucky a major player in the American beef industry since the 1700s. The Blue Grass Stockyards Museum is both a tribute and an educational guide to Central Kentucky’s deep agriculture history. Exhibits span topics such as the history of the American cattle industry, Lexington’s historic downtown livestock markets, and technological progress within the beef industry.
Re-building gave Blue Grass Stockyards the opportunity to be more efficient with our water usage and increase our sustainability efforts. We capture all the water that falls on the facility roof for use in the red and yellow water troughs in our barn. These troughs provide fresh drinking water for the cattle, similar to what they are accustomed to on the farm. This system decreases the amount of runoff from the property by about 1/3 and cuts our usage of municipal water by over 80%. Water that falls on the rest of the parking areas and driveways is captured and directed to a separate filtration system. The water first passes through large concrete tanks that slowly release it onto sandbeds, filtering out solids to be recovered. The water then flows into a holding pond before returning to the local waterways.
Other physical features like our dry barn floor and cattle bedding play important roles in the Stockyards’s sustainability efforts as well. Instead of using drains, the barn’s foundation includes parfait layering of clay, limestone gravel and saw dust. Water spilled in the barn flows into the gravel and is prevented from seeping into the ground below by the clay layer, allowing the moisture to evaporate. A dry barn helps us reduce our waste and eliminates odor and insects.
We also strive to use resources from local forests wisely for our cattle bedding. Bedding is not necessary for pens utilized only on sale days, and the pens intended to house cattle overnight contain bedding made from recycled wood chips and sawdust from local tree trimming companies and mills that would otherwise be sent to landfills. Our used bedding is then distributed to local farms as a compostable, nutrient-rich source of fertilizer, providing yet another use for the wood chips and sawdust. In all, the volume of waste generated by the new facility is less than ½ of the old facility due to the dry environment and bedding recycling.
The Y.A.R.D.S. (Youth, Research, Demonstration, Sustainability) Classroom is a unique space in the beef industry. For the first time, cattlemen and women have a headquarters for beef education. Within the first nine months of the Grand Opening of the new facility, the classroom had over 12,000 visitors from 15 countries, 15 different states, and 40 Kentucky counties. In partnership local universities, The Y.A.R.D.S. Classroom offers monthly continued education opportunities for local farmers and producers with the Lunch & Learn Series and the Small, Limited Resource and Beginning Farmer Education Series. Farm Credit Mid America and Tarter Farm and Ranch provided funding and support for the classroom’s design, decor, equipment, educational content and general operation. The classroom space was donated to the Cattlemen’s Foundation by Blue Grass Stockyards.
Retail & Services
Breeders Farrier Supply Providing horseshoes and farrier supplies for blacksmiths and farriers across the region. The store is decorated with many rare antiques and points of interest from the farrier industry.
Hayden’s Stockyard Eatery Fresh-made biscuits, shrimp and grits, and the best burgers in town! Hayden’s Stockyard Eatery is owned and operated by DaRae Marcum, a local caterer with over twenty years of experience. Most of the red meat served in Hayden’s is sourced from The Chop Shop, and the hamburger is a special blend made exclusively for us. Hayden’s also features local chicken from nearby Marksbury Farms.
JSW's The Chop Shop Kentucky Proud and all local, The Chop Shop’s meat is processed in their state-of- the- art, USDA- inspected, and food safety- certified processing facility in Hazel Green, KY. The Chop Shop offers customers a wide variety of beef and pork products fresh, frozen, and cured. They can accommodate customers looking for a single steak, a package of jerky, a grilling package, or even an entire side of beef.
RT Outfitters A one- stop shop for farm, outdoor, and western-wear. RT's friendly staff are more than happy to help outfit the whole farm family with boots available for even the tiniest farmers.
Bauer Hay and Straw
S&B Cattle Company
Eugene Barber & Sons
My Team Insurance
Livestock Auctions & Stockyards Operations
Our business is unique in that our nine owners are active cattlemen and farmers. Their passion and expertise has allowed Blue Grass Stockyards to truly thrive as a business and an employer, serving a large percentage of Kentuckians and our neighbors from nearby states.
Across the entire network, Blue Grass Stockyards sells six days a week and has as many as three sales going simultaneously in different locations, averaging fourteen sale events per week.
In Lexington, we average 125,000 to 150,000 head of cattle and $200,000,000 in business annually.
The Blue Grass Stockyards network averages 500,000 head of cattle and $600,000,000 in transactions annually, with some satellite locations also contributing sales of sheep, goats, and hogs.
Blue Grass Regional Marketplace employs approximately 50 people, while the Blue Grass Stockyards network employs over 200 people statewide.
Ninety of Kentucky’s 120 counties as well as eight states are represented in our customer base.
Many who visit our operations ask what kind of cattle we sell, where the cattle go, and who purchases them. We sell three general classes of cattle. Approximately 40% of our run are stocker cattle that are generally younger calves (6-12 months of age) weighing less than 650 pounds. Most of these cattle are purchased by local farmers to go back to grass to grow out to heavier weights (a process known as backgrounding). Feeder cattle comprise about 50% of the run and are older (12-18 months of age), weighing 650-1000 pounds. This class of cattle is generally purchased by commercial order buying firms located in the booths around the top of the sales arena for transportation to feedlots in the Midwest. Feeders are often shipped from Lexington to states such as Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Colorado. Cull cows and bulls make up about 10% of our sales volume and are the only class of animals we sell that are destined to go directly to harvest. These are animals that are near the end of their productive lives on the farm but still have significant salvage value to the farmer for their meat.
Most of the animals in the Stockyard barn will be here for less than 24 hours. However, we also provide housing and services for transit and yardage cattle. Transit cattle are those that come to us while being transported to another location. For example, truck drivers who need to rest while on the interstate can unload their cattle and allow us to feed and care for them while they put in their required rest time. Yardage cattle are those that are being collected from all over the East and Southeastern United States by order buying companies. These cattle are purchased in smaller markets and aggregated here before shipping west to feedlots.
Blue Grass Stockyards strives to make every step of the processes of selling, buying, and using our facility easier and more convenient for our clients. Eight unloading docks accommodating various types of vehicles allow for quick and efficient movement of animals toward the sale ring. The two primary unloading docks are “drive-thru” chutes, eliminating the need for backing trailers and reducing the unloading process. Once in the sale ring, out-weight scales and selling system weigh animals at the time of sale in front of both buyer and seller. This system is the most fair and transparent, enabling everyone to use their own judgement to assess the conditions of the sale.
Ease and convenience are important, however, our dedicated staff and the animals entrusted to our care are the heart and soul of our business. The modern handling procedures first advocated by Dr. Temple Grandin are the cornerstone of our operations. They not only provide the most humane experience possible for the animals but also contribute to our stellar reputation and support our culture of workplace safety. We are truly proud of our facility and our people and invite the public to enjoy and learn from how we handle the animals.
Sale Days & Hours
Mondays & Tuesdays 8:30 am to 5 pm
Every Fourth Wednesday 6:30 pm
We welcome the public to tour on days we do not have an auction.
Purebred sales on Fridays or Saturdays as scheduled.