Online versus traditional cattle sales - which fits best?

Selling cattle used to be done the same way across the board. Typically, farmers would take animals to a traditional auction market and sell them. But in the last couple of decades, there's been a growing trend of producers moving to online marketing. 

A leading online marketing expert believes there is still a place for the traditional auction market, leaving the question which one works best for your operation?

Jason Danard is the general manager with TEAM Auction Sales, part of the Calgary Stockyards based out of Strathmore, Alta. He says they have done sales on the Internet for 20 years and have seen growth every year.

Advantages to online sales

He says medium and large operations benefit most from online sales since they can put together groups of animals that work for online trading.

He says there are several advantages to marketing online, including efficiency for the sellers and buyers. It's also better for the cattle.

“You get less stress on the animal and less shrink,” Danard says.

On top of this, he adds, the Internet provides exposure to new buyers not apt to show up at traditional auctions. 

Traditional auctions still work

Still, Danard sees advantages to traditional sales methods.

“I think the market will be there for the purposes of selling the groups that don’t fit any online platform,” he says.

Danard says producers with smaller herds aren’t going to fit into an online auction platform. Producers with herds under 100 cows are likely too small to do market on the Internet, at least in terms of commercial cattle.

He says he typically only sees producers with smaller herds succeed online if they market during quieter times during the year, like June or July, not like this month where sales are at their peak.

Reg Schellenberg is the owner of Perrin Ranches, located along Lake Diefenbaker, in southwest Saskatchewan. The farm markets their steers every October, while the heifers are backgrounded and sold in the spring.

He says they like to use both online and traditional markets to sell cattle.

Bottom line

Weighing the pros and cons of online versus traditional cattle sales depends on the size of the beef herd and how much time producers have to market the animals ahead of the sales.

Article by: Craig Lester