Livestock auctions

I showed cattle in 4-H and after the county fair was over, some of them were sold in the auction ring.

Kristen Parman with the Livestock Marketing Association says auctions are a service point for everyone from the hobby farmer to the full-time producer. If you haven’t bought animals from an auction before, she recommends watching a few to understand the lingo and setup. You should also stop in and get to know your livestock auction market operator.

"If you’re new to the business, they can certainly explain to you the process to get approved for a buyer number to be able to participate in the auction. They may offer to sit with you and explain the process of the chant and the auctioneers," says Parman. "But, it’s a friendly environment. We want folks to be comfortable getting to know our auction operators."

Before you go, have an idea of how much you should expect to pay. It’s the auctioneer’s goal to get the highest potential price for the people who are selling their livestock. Parman says auctioneers are experienced enough to see when someone is scratching their nose and not raising their hand for a bid, so don’t worry about accidentally buying what you don’t want.

The number of animals moved through an auction depends on your region.

"In certain parts of the country, Texas, throughout the Southeast, they will sell 100-150 head an hour because they’re moving them one at a time. The pace is just tremendous. Other parts of the country they’re selling them in large load lots, could be 50,000 pound lots, so all of those animals are moving through the ring and being sold together," she says. "It really varies on where you’re participating from."

After the auction you’ll pay for the animals, load them up, and take them home.

Learn more about livestock auctions