Everything You Need to Know About Livestock Auctions

If it’s summer, you know what that means – it’s livestock auction time!

Second, perhaps, for a county fair or rodeo, livestock auctions are one of the happiest events in a farmer’s life. Going to auctions is a great way to learn more about animals, what they’re worth to other farmers, and more.

However, there are some cautionary tales to be told here as well. If you have a farm, you have undoubtedly heard horror stories from farmers who lost a lot of money by buying a healthy cow, horse or pig at auction.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to educate yourself before you go. Here are some things to keep in mind.

What is Livestock Auction?

While you can always buy livestock directly from the ranch or ranch, buying at a livestock auction is another excellent option to help build your herd.

One of the biggest benefits of going to a livestock auction is that you will be able to see dozens, sometimes hundreds, of animals at once. You can buy animals “in bulk,” also known as buying in lots.

This is much nicer than the experience you might have on your small farm or ranch, in which you have to buy animals from only one herd at a time. When you go to animal auctions, you’ll notice that there are animals that have been reared everywhere, giving you more options to choose from.

Diversity is beneficial in terms of the different ways in which the animals were raised as well as when it comes to choosing between different breeds. Although it is common to grow multiple breeds on different farms, it is very common to see such diversity at livestock auctions.

Livestock auctions offer animals at a more reasonable price because you will be bidding rather than paying a fixed price.

Different types of livestock auctions

You can participate in two primary types of livestock auctions — regular and special sales.

As the name suggests, a regular sale is held every week, month or any other regular interval at a pre-determined time and date. Weekly auctions can be held every Friday at the auction barn. These are usually organized to sell animals such as dairy bull calves and cows or prepared beef cattle.

On the other hand, special sales are generally limited to select types of animals, such as goats, sheep, pigs, or beef cattle. These are conducted on more sporadic schedules and are not as strictly prescribed.

Buying Animals at Auctions – What to Know

So you’ve seen an auction ad in your local newspaper – now what? Grab the livestock trailer and get ready to go. But first, take a look at these tips so you know exactly what to do.

1. Biggest Advantage of Livestock Auction

If you can’t decide whether going to a livestock auction is worth your while, you might want to consider the advantages and disadvantages of going to one.

Biggest advantage? Going to an animal auction can be a lot of fun. You can network with other farmers, view animals for sale, and learn more about the industry.

Some despise animal auctions because they are often used to offload sick, ornate, or otherwise unfit animals.

However, when you are smart about which animals you buy, there is ultimately nothing wrong with these types of events.

There are no commitments. If you go to an auction, you can window-shop. You can just see what the farm pigs or other animals are selling for. No high pressure salesperson is trying to convince you to take an animal home. You are in control of your spending.

A good livestock auction will allow you to thoroughly inspect the animals before the auction as well as during the bidding. There are good prices for all and often, a great selection.

Again, livestock auctions often serve as gathering places for the community. There are snack bars and entertainment. It’s a great time for everyone!

2. Decide Which Animals to Buy

If you are going to a livestock auction to bring home some animals for your farm, do some research ahead of time regarding what breeds and species you are looking for, as well as any desired characteristics.

It’s a good idea to do some research on the size of the animals, which should be at a certain age so that you know how well even an animal for sale is growing.

3. Find the Age

Familiarize yourself with what a healthy animal looks like at a certain age, depending on the species. The more experience you have with a given type of animal, the easier it will be. An experienced rancher will be able to tell the difference between a 2-year-old Hereford and a 4-year-old.

Often, you can find signs of aging by looking at things like an animal’s teeth or eyes, but this varies by species.

4. Determine Overall Health

In most cases, you will have the opportunity to see an animal before the bidding begins. Beware of things like bumps, scratches or patches missing from hiding.

Examine the teeth of the animal you want to buy, as well as the feet of hoofed animals such as sheep and goats. Again, do some research before the auction so you know what health signs to look for.

Whenever possible, get the paperwork done. Most reputable vendors will provide details on an animal’s vaccination status, breeding background, and other pertinent information. In fact, most auction houses now require basic health papers.

Don’t buy sick animals or animals that are poorly bred, even if they are cheap. It is not worth the effort and animals obtained at auction are not returnable.

5. Pay by Cash or Check

The tip is simple – bring lots of cash or a checkbook. While times are changing, most auction houses do not accept credit cards.

6. Buying in Pairs

This is good advice for buying cattle, in particular, but when you’re buying new livestock of any kind, it’s always a good idea to buy in pairs. Most species of livestock are herd animals and need mates to gain weight and stay within the fence.

7. Bring Your Trailer

Even if you’re not sure you’ll buy anything at auction, bring a trailer with you. you never know. Some livestock houses will keep their animals for you 24 hours a day so you can arrange transportation, but some want the animals moved ASAP to make room for the new ones.

8. Familiarize yourself with the protocol

When you reach the auction house, you will need to register at the main office. You will be given a sign or placard with a number that corresponds to your registration. When you’re ready to bid, all you have to do is hold on sign up.

The auctioneer will talk quickly, something that can be confusing in a hurry. Be ready to move fast! Never wave or stand while bidding – this can be misinterpreted when bidding.

9. Don’t rush

Let someone else do the bidding for you. There is no rush and it is better to let someone else set the starting price.

10. Focus on “cheap” sales

It is possible to get serious discounts at livestock auctions.

However, be very careful about a deal that sounds too good to be true. Look at other bidders, especially more experienced farmers, to see what they are buying. They know quality and how to find it!

11. Keep New Animals Quarantine

When you bring your purchases home, make sure your new arrivals are in quarantine for a week or two.

You may need to go to your vet to have them checked out. They can also help you find out the vaccination schedule before introducing them to the rest of the herd.

12. Ask for Help – and Be Prepared

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Getting the hang of livestock auctions can be challenging. However, once you know what to look for, you’ll love the hubbub that goes on here.

raise animals right

Your efforts at a livestock auction do not end there once you have brought home your newly purchased livestock.

You must take the necessary extra steps to ensure that your animals are well cared for once you unload them from the livestock trailer.

You will need to make sure you have chutes, fences and other handling equipment so that you can be comfortable with your animals as soon as you bring them home.

If you go to a livestock auction with your checkbook in hand, even if you’re not quite sure you’ll buy anything, it’s a good idea to go with the assumption that you’re going to bring the animals home.

This way, you can be sure that your feeding areas, barns, pastures, and other areas are set up and ready to go with everything your animals need as soon as you bring them back to the farm.

You won’t be scrambling to find hay, grain, or water (or trying to fix a fence!) at the last minute.

Going to a livestock auction is a great way to save money and learn more about the industry – but only if you go in with the right knowledge.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to set yourself up for a profitable, enjoyable experience.

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