Navigating the Path to Successful Livestock Sales: Insights from Industry Experts - Cowsmo

Navigating the Path to Successful Livestock Sales: Insights from Industry Experts

In recent years, the livestock market has witnessed a surge in both online and in-person sales, spanning live auctions, tag sales, and exclusive embryo events. Our industry has adeptly capitalized on these opportunities for buying and selling, showcasing a commendable evolution. However, the journey to a successful sale involves meticulous planning and effort.

Before the auctioneer’s call or the commencement of an online sale, a considerable amount of groundwork takes place. Most sales employ a selection committee, often comprising one or more individuals, collaborating with potential consignors to curate a collection that aligns with the sale’s objectives. To delve into the details of this selection process, we engaged in conversations with sale managers and staff from prestigious show cattle sales across the United States and Canada.

Meet Our Panel:

  • Matt Hawbaker: Owner and manager of Interstate Heifer Care, MD; Co-Host of Teaming Up at Interstate Tag Sale & 1st Impressions at the Interstate.
  • Jason Zimmerman: NY Spring Stunner, NY Holstein Convention Sale
  • Kurt Wolf: Old-Bankston Ayrshires, IA; Sales Staff for Shades of Excellence, host of Online Opportunities at Old-Bankston
  • Lynn Harbaugh: Bella-View Holsteins, WI; Co-host of The Quest
  • Darryl Markus: Owner, Markridge Holsteins, ON; Calves for a Cause

Farm Visits: Capturing Attention

The key to attracting attention to your farm? Marketing. Whether through showcasing results at shows, highlighting classification scores, or sharing photos from the ring or barn, raising awareness about your animals sparks interest. Being open to selling is crucial, and while immediate success might not hinge on the latest award-winning heifer, having a successful cow family with industry interest is opportune.

If you’re eager to consign but haven’t been approached, take the initiative to contact sale staff. Our panel agrees that reaching out, preferably two months in advance, is welcomed. Have pedigrees, photos, and videos ready for discussion.

The Selection Committee’s Farm Visit: Preparation Tips

When the selection committee is set to visit, cleanliness matters, but a full wash or clip isn’t mandatory. Deworming, vaccinations, and maintaining a proper diet are essential. Cattle should be in suitable condition for their age and the season. Understanding pedigrees is crucial, and while genomics may not be the top priority, high index heifers can be a valuable marketing tool.

Know what the selection committee is looking for, and be ready to showcase those animals first. If time permits, introduce full sisters or dams. A common frustration for selectors is when farms hesitate to part with their best; the goal is to present the best offerings, whether heifers, embryos, choices, or sisters.

Consigning: Talking Numbers

Once you’ve caught their attention, discussing financial aspects is vital. Understand the commission structure, potential charges, and sale expectations. Different sales have varying formats; some online sales may have a minimum bid requirement. Transparency about the animal’s likely value is appreciated by both sellers and buyers.

Remember, a selected animal reflects your breeding program’s quality and marketability. It’s an honor to garner interest in your program and cow families.

Preparing for the Sale: Attention to Detail

As the sale approaches, invest time in halter breaking and present well-groomed animals. Trim their feet, address health concerns in advance, and maintain consistent diets. Communication with the selection committee is key, especially regarding any necessary diet alterations or health issues like ringworm outbreaks.

Timely submission of catalog information to the sales staff, including registration numbers, professional photos of the consignment and family members, consignor details, and relevant scores, ensures a smooth process leading up to the sale.

In essence, the path to a successful livestock sale involves a strategic blend of marketing, preparation, and effective communication with the selection committee and potential buyers. These insights from industry experts provide valuable guidance for those looking to navigate this intricate journey.


As you embark on the exciting journey of livestock sales, remember that the team at Cowsmopolitan is here to support you every step of the way. Whether you need assistance with marketing for the sales force or individual consignors, we’re just a phone call, email, or text message away. Your success is our priority, and we extend our heartfelt wishes for a prosperous year ahead, especially with the numerous sales on the horizon.

We eagerly anticipate seeing many of you showcasing your upcoming purchases in the ring this year. Best of luck, and may your sales endeavors be filled with triumphs and rewarding experiences!


*Disclaimer: Please note that the information presented in this article is based on interviews conducted with various individuals, perspectives and opinions may vary.


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