Parkersburg Livestock Exchange a family affair

Mitchells have history with location, business

Photo by Evan Bevins Silas Mitchell moves cattle through an alley at the Parkersburg Livestock Exchange. Mitchell’s family took over the business this year, with the first auction on March 1.

MINERAL WELLS — In the early 1990s, Roger Mitchell was working at the Mineral Wells Livestock Exchange during an auction, his young sons Daniel and Silas watching from an office at the top of the sale pavilion.

A bull up for bid became agitated and leapt from the show area into the stands. It charged right up the steps toward the office, as Mitchell slammed the door shut and another man hustled the boys out another way.

“That’s his horn mark,” Mitchell said recently, pointing to a puncture on the door.

Cables were added around the ring to prevent another such incident, but the mark is still there. And Mitchell and his sons are back, running the newly minted Parkersburg Livestock Exchange at 720 Frontage Road, Mineral Wells.

“We’re trying to bring buyers and sellers together to make a fair market for the consumers,” Daniel Mitchell said.

Photo by Evan Bevins The Parkersburg Livestock Exchange is a family affair. Pictured from left are Colton, Daniel, Lucas, Roger and Silas Mitchell.

The market and auction site had been closed for about a decade before it was reopened at the end of 2016 as the Parkersburg Livestock Market LLC. At the beginning of the year, the Mitchells took over the lease.

They have operated the Jackson County Regional Livestock Market in Ripley for 11 years. It sold 30,000 head last year, and they want to see the Parkersburg operation get numbers like that, though they know it won’t happen overnight.

“We would like to see 12 to 18 thousand head” this year, Daniel Mitchell said.

Sales are held weekly at 11 a.m. Thursdays at the Parkersburg site and 11 a.m. Saturdays in Ripley.

“We wanted to make it more accessible to our consigners with having two locations and two sales a week,” Daniel Mitchell said.

Photo by Evan Bevins Goats wait in a pen after being sold during a May 31 auction at the Parkersburg Livestock Exchange.

Buyers and sellers have come from around the region, including Doddridge, Ritchie and Tyler counties, ‘Roger Mitchell said. Their first sale of the year, on March 1, has been their largest, with 500 head sold.

The Mitchells have made a lot of investments to improve the facility, adding a new sound system and lighting to the sale pavilion, new gates, new skylights to address leaks in the roof, a state-of-the-art computer system and a new drive-through facility for people to unload livestock.

“It speeds the unloading process up,” Daniel Mitchell said. Before “every trailer had to back in.”

A new tagging chute was added, which makes it easier and safer to tag animals before sale, Roger Mitchell said. Instead of a person going into a pen and holding the animal to be tagged, it simply goes through the chute in a line, reducing stress, which can make the animals more susceptible to disease.

“That’s the biggest goal here is less stress on the livestock,” Silas Mitchell said.

Photo by Evan Bevins Brothers Daniel, left, and Silas Mitchell stand in the sale pavilion at the Parkersburg Livestock Exchange, which they run with their father, Roger. Since taking over the business, the Mitchell family has invested in a new computer system, lighting, sound system, drive-through area and more.

In addition to Roger, his sons and office manager Elaine Wilson, Roger’s wife, daughter-in-law and six grandchildren are frequently at the business.

“You ought to be at the board meeting,” he said with a laugh.

“We’re a family-oriented business that is here for the farmers,” Daniel Mitchell said.