Empty pens at the South St. Paul Stockyards | TSLN.com

Empty pens at the South St. Paul Stockyards

Amanda Nolz

In a skyline of staggering skyscrapers, the South St. Paul Stockyards ran its business. Since 1886, the yards have filtered millions of livestock through its gates. In its peak years from 1974 to 1981, the stockyards held the title of the world’s largest livestock market. Once a 260 acre facility, the stockyards used to be open seven days a week and received 1,474,890 head of cattle and 840,413 calves.

“When I started working at the yards in the mid ’70’s, we would sell huge groups of hogs and cattle each day,” said Bob Young, Branch Manager for the Central Livestock Association (CLA). “I think the downhill shift was caused because the family farmer is gone. Instead, corporate farms are king, and they now have different ways to contract livestock than with an auction market.”

In recent years, the facility was sold down to a bleak 27 acres, only handling about 6,000 head of cattle and hogs and 2,000 sheep in a given month. It comes as no surprise that the market has dwindled in this suburbia stockyard. Surrounded by suburbs of the Twin Cities, the South St. Paul Stockyards no longer received any livestock that were raised close to the facility. With the logistics of the cattle markets moving away from the cities, the Central Livestock Association owned facility decided to close its doors with a final feeder cattle sale on April 11, 2008.

As the historic South St. Paul Stockyards held its final sale, the cloudy skies misted on the cattle in the holding pens. An estimated 2,000 head of feeder cattle were sold, as over 1,800 attendees of the final sale came to remember and honor the history and significance the South St. Paul Stockyards had on the beef industry.

“The stockyard’s last day was one filled with great sadness,” said Young, who has worked for the South St. Paul Stockyards for nearly 33 years. “There is so much heritage and longevity at this historical site.”

In a skyline of staggering skyscrapers, the South St. Paul Stockyards ran its business. Since 1886, the yards have filtered millions of livestock through its gates. In its peak years from 1974 to 1981, the stockyards held the title of the world’s largest livestock market. Once a 260 acre facility, the stockyards used to be open seven days a week and received 1,474,890 head of cattle and 840,413 calves.

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“When I started working at the yards in the mid ’70’s, we would sell huge groups of hogs and cattle each day,” said Bob Young, Branch Manager for the Central Livestock Association (CLA). “I think the downhill shift was caused because the family farmer is gone. Instead, corporate farms are king, and they now have different ways to contract livestock than with an auction market.”

In recent years, the facility was sold down to a bleak 27 acres, only handling about 6,000 head of cattle and hogs and 2,000 sheep in a given month. It comes as no surprise that the market has dwindled in this suburbia stockyard. Surrounded by suburbs of the Twin Cities, the South St. Paul Stockyards no longer received any livestock that were raised close to the facility. With the logistics of the cattle markets moving away from the cities, the Central Livestock Association owned facility decided to close its doors with a final feeder cattle sale on April 11, 2008.

As the historic South St. Paul Stockyards held its final sale, the cloudy skies misted on the cattle in the holding pens. An estimated 2,000 head of feeder cattle were sold, as over 1,800 attendees of the final sale came to remember and honor the history and significance the South St. Paul Stockyards had on the beef industry.

“The stockyard’s last day was one filled with great sadness,” said Young, who has worked for the South St. Paul Stockyards for nearly 33 years. “There is so much heritage and longevity at this historical site.”