By JORDAN STRICKLER
LEXINGTON, Ky. — More than 18 months after the previous structure caught fire, the new Blue Grass Stockyards has opened its doors. The $15 million structure replaces the one that burned on Jan. 30, 2016, after a construction worker using a circular saw to cut metal roofing cau ed a spark that set the 70-year-old structure ablaze.
The new facility is situated just off of one of the nation’s main interstate arteries and is expected to be one of the best in the nation. It is expected to attract cattle producers from all over the Commonwealth as well as central Ohio, central Indiana, western Kentucky and West Virginia.
“Everything in it is state-of-the-art,” said Jim Akers, chief operations officer. “We will have a lot of new technology and room for the development of new technology because nobody knows what’s coming down the road. “We’ve also incorporated more feed and water facilities than any facility in the eastern United States. This gives us better resources to care for cattle that need to overnight before or after the sales. We’ve also put two vet facilities to accommodate the incoming and outgoing cattle.”
The stockyards will include a number of retail and services, including a western wear store, a meat supplier, farrier supplier, insurance agents and commodity and real estate brokers. Additionally, Akers and company are bringing a classroom to the venue to give students and the public an area to learn more about the cattle business. “The classroom has a certified teacher on staff, which will be handling everything from tours to consumer training to food service. Classes will host students from all around the state and we are booking some tours from surrounding states, as well. A couple of University of Kentucky classes will be held out here too. It will be pretty diverse,” Akers explained.
A primary issue for nearby residents when the new site was selected regarded the environmental aspect of the rounds; however, Akers said the facility has placated their worries. “We spent a lot of time and investmen into the environmental part of the stockyard. There won’t be a drop of water fall on this property that we won’t either capture and reuse or make sure it’s clean before it leaves,” he said. “All of our bedding, feed and manuring is handled under a roof and never touches the ground outside the building.
“We’ve gone way, way beyond (the prior facility) into environmentally friendly practices.” In 2015 the Lexington facility sold more than 150,000 head of cattle with a value of $200 million. Blue Grass Livestock Marketing Group, the parent company of Blue Grass Stockyards, also owns several facilities in surrounding locations including Mount Sterling, Rich mond, Stanford, Campbellsville and Maysville, and theorganization is currently one of the most prominent livestock facilities east of the Mississippi River.
Kentucky is the inventory leader in the eastern United States and eighth nationally, with approximately 1 million head of beef cattle in production. There are more than 38,000 beef cattle producers in the Bluegrass State.