The age-old question: Will I make more money selling at a large livestock auction barn. Is the answer in the crowd? Let’s dive deep into this Rancher’s Question.
Rancher’s Question: I have been told selling my livestock through an auction barn that moves more cattle through weekly is the best way to get the best price. Is this a reasonable expectation?
Ask a Cattle Buyer…
Your cattle will not bring more money at an auction barn that sells more cattle. Several factors affect the price you receive for your animals. Let’s take a closer look.
Order Buying Companies
Order Buyers work for large companies to fill their cattle orders. There will be times these buyers will be at a sale without orders from some of their regular customers. Thus, they will not bid for animals that are not on their order.
A single Order Buyer can be there buying for one company or ten or more companies. You have to picture one buyer representing multiple buyers filling the seats.
The Buyer Number Breakdown
Almost every sale barn has Order Buyers representing the same major companies. Scanning the seats and assuming a gallery is full of Buyers is not wise. People there have either come to watch the cattle sell, or are looking to pick up a few head for themselves.
Keep in mind, the Buyers may not have orders for the cattle you have brought in. Multiple Buyers present will not guarantee you a high payout. Supplying an auction with highly sought after livestock will improve your sales price.
Larger sales mean longer wait times for your cattle to sell. Animals experience shrinkage when they are away from feed and water.
The longer your cattle are away from feed and water, the more shrinkage they will experience. This will affect their final weight, which affects your ending price.
When an animal sells by the head, shrinkage will have little effect on the price. An animal sold by the pound will have a decreased weight when it stands on the scale.
The most important factor to your herd bringing in top-dollar is to have a top-dollar herd. You have to bring what the buyers want to bid over. Cattle that have high-quality traits will bring more than cattle that are less desirable.
Remember, timing is important to the price you will get for your cattle.
The size of the barn and the number of buyers will not help your bottom dollar when you sell during a low market period.
Do not analyze the market from Market Reports alone.
Livestock Auction Companies produce Market Reports to entice buyers to bring their cattle. You cannot get a complete picture from these reports.
Market Reports do not show everything you need to know about the sale.
Reports break cattle down by weight. They are then in weight classes. These reports do not tell you if these are “Prime” or “Utility” cattle. With similar weights, high-quality animals will be in the same price report as an animal that has a lesser grade.
There are Livestock Auction Companies that break animals into “Choice” animals. These are opinions of the person who is making the report.
Check your herd’s quality. Research the market, and find a Livestock Auction Company you trust. Numbers can be deceiving to anyone who is lacking information.
Have Questions about the Livestock Market? Ask a Cattle Buyer.
Our Ask a Cattle Buyer series is here to help everyday cattle owners get the answers to their livestock market questions. Longtime cattle buyer, Craig Archer, gives you the answers to your market questions from his years in the seat of an auction ring gallery. Send your questions to [email protected].
*Texas Farm & Ranch Solution, LLC brings you helpful information for your livestock operation. Texas Farm & Ranch Solution, LLC, and its associates offer no guarantees of profit from this information. Changes to your operation are at your discretion.
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