AmericanFarm.com

Westminster Livestock Sale now back in business

By CARYL VELISEK
Staff Writer

WESTMINSTER, Md. (March 3, 2015) — Barely more than a year after a fire at the Westminster Livestock Auction on Old New Windsor Road in Carroll County, that did considerable damage to the sale facility there, the sale barn has been rebuilt and sales are in full swing again.
The first livestock sale in the new facility was held despite a snowstorm on Tuesday, Feb. 17, with excellent prices, according to owner, Earl Gouker.
There were 70 head of livestock — cattle, pigs and sheep — sold, and more than 200 buyers there to bid on them at the reopening as auctioneers, Wendell Grove and Nathan High called the sale.
The origin of the fire was thought to be electrical, Gouker said, and crews from several area fire companies helped extinguish the early morning blaze.
No people or animals were hurt in the fire but an estimated $200,000 in damages was done to the building and another $100,000 to furniture and office equipment.
“Before the fire we usually had from 300 to 500 head of livestock selling this time of year and, later in the season, numbers normally pick up so we expect to be back up to the usual number of 1,000 head or more later this year,” Gouker said.
“On Thursday night we sell smaller animals like chickens and ducks, and other farm produce,” he added. “We always have a good market for our sales and have a lot of ethnic buyers in the area.”
Gouker, who has owned the auction facility with his wife, Victoria, since April 2011, said he expects they will soon be back to their full capacity.
He noted that their auction barn is one of the two largest facilities of its type in the area, the other being Four States Livestock Sales in Hagerstown, Md.
Cows and other livestock are sold on Tuesday, late afternoon and evening, at Westminster, along with fertilizer, feed and produce, and sales are also held on Thursday, and the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.
“Thursday is our ‘farmers market’ and we sell chickens, ducks, and other farm produce then, and expect another 200 or so buyers,” Gouker said.
Westminster Livestock Auction is the oldest in the state with its beginning in the mid-1920s and it is also rented out for other sales.
The Goukers also farm and raise beef cattle.
“Westminster Livestock means a lot to us and to so many others,” he said. “We wanted to get back up and running on our regular schedule as soon as we were able and we are so pleased to be at this point today. Everyone has been so supportive and helpful, lending a hand however they could, and we appreciate everyone’s support.”