Know Your Market
Regardless of the type of sale, there are steps every producer should follow before they show up to buy calves. Rob Campbell, livestock producer from Witts Springs, Ark., recommended that producers take a good look at their current calf crop. “We need to know what do you want them to have that they don’t,” he said. “This could include traits such as color, growth, reproduction, etc.”
After producers know what they are missing or what they want to improve, then they should figure out what sales will offer what their herd needs. And at this point producers can call the breeder, Campbell recommended taking the following four steps before the sale.
1. Let the breeder know what you are looking for
2. Ask for the sale details, including a catalog
3. Get there early enough to spend enough time with the animals before the sale so you know what you are getting
4. Know the guarantees that come with the cow/bull (delivery, death, injury, length of term, etc.)
Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, recommended that producers study the data on the animals producers are interested in. “Make sure their EPDs (Expected Progeny Difference) are compatible with your farm’s breeding plans,” he said. “Don’t get caught up in the excitement of the sale and end up paying a lot more for your purchase than you planned to.”
“A sale barn helps establish the market for several classes of cattle each week,” Cole said. “There is also a veterinarian on sight to check health, pregnancy status, vaccinate, brand or any other necessary items.”
Five things to consider when deciding whether to purchase cattle at a particular sale barn include:
1. What is the reputation of their barn among both buyers and sellers?
2. Do they handle the cattle quietly?
3. Are they financially sound?
4. Is it clean and well kept?
5. Does the market team sincerely help both buyer and seller?
“Production sales are excellent ways to promote purebred cattle,” Cole said. “It gets traffic to your farm which helps promote your overall program.
“Some buyers do not like the high-pressure auction with all the yelling,” Cole continued. “An increasing number of bull sales offer pre-priced, low-pressure auctions. If you’re a bit timid then these types of sales are for you.”
“Most firms that put on a big production sale have considerable expense so they work on getting buyers there who they may have helped in the past,” Cole said. “Thus, prices may run a bit above what you’d expect.”
It may be helpful to go to the farm before the sale cattle are groomed and see what they look like in their working clothes. “This will give you a chance to get a feel for the owner and management team of the firm holding the sale,” Cole said.
Private Treaty Sales
“Private treaty sales gives you the ability to sit down with the breeder, so they can give you exactly what you want,” Campbell said. “This is more personal than a production sale or sale barn.”
“When buying or selling by private treaty producers need to know the value of the animals they’re dealing with,” Cole said. “Be willing to compromise on price. Know if the persons you deal with have money in the bank.”
Regardless of the sale type, it is recommended that producers seek out others who have bought cattle from the potential seller before to find out how they treat their customers before, during and after the sale. Extension specialists are also a good source for references.
“Buyers and sellers of breeding stock are fortunate in this part of the country to have a variety of markets and market alternatives to choose from,” Cole said. “These different opportunities must constantly be evaluated by each segment of the industry to determine where they will find the best buy or sale.”