To Consign or not Consign, This is the Question

Today I received four sheets of paper concerning an upcoming consignment cattle sale. These pieces of information come almost weekly. I am often asked to "promote the breed by consigning one of my best animals". I am not convinced that all consignment sales really do promote the breed. They only promote the breed if it is professionally managed and good prices become the result.

sale ring

As I read down across the information about when the cattle must arrive, the deadline for entries, the cost of the nonrefundable consignment fee, the requirement of original registration papers, the transfer to be paid by the seller, the sale management is not responsible for loss of health, life or theft of my animals, I must provide my own breeding guarantee for both males and females, all persons must attend the sale at their own risk, you must provide individual health certificates, every animal must be pregnancy or fertility tested, a semen test certificate is required on bulls, no proceeds would be dispersed until after "all purchase checks have cleared", the order of sale will be determined by sale management.

As I read all of the stipulations to be a player in this sale, I felt somewhat like the suspect under a large light being interrogated in a police station. I was being told all of the things required of me and how many dollars it would cost. Nowhere in four pages of information was I told the following . . .

The following is what I think every cattle owner should know before they consign to a sale:

  1. How modern/clean is the sale facility?
  2. In the sale area, is there a large demand to buy TL cattle that is not being supplied by local producers? (This is the most important reason to have a sale.)
  3. Is the sale manager experienced at marketing, and sale organization, professionally?
  4. What special attractions are planned that will guarantee the consignors a good price?
  5. Will a complimentary lunch be served for buyers and consignors?
  6. Will poor cattle be sifted from the sale to protect the over-all appearance and quality?
  7. Are other events held near the sale date to distract buyers -- conflicting events?
  8. Is the auctioneer professional at Longhorn sales. Who is the auctioneer?
  9. How professional will the catalog be, color cover, econo-print or a US government recycle type Smudge O' Graph?
  10. Will catalogs be mailed 6 weeks in advance to a large mailing list of buyers?
  11. What percent of the consignment fee is used for promotion of the sale, locally and nationally?
  12. Is the consignment fee enough to do a full blown PR program to assure strong buying?
  13. If there are more sellers than buyers -- no sale will be profitable for the breed or consignors.
  14. More thoughts..........

As I look over these pages of requirements, to be the consignor, I found no answers to my questions. Therefore, if you come to this consignment sale you will not see any of our cattle.

Am I missing something here?

Due to many of these factors, we do not find it difficult to understand why many of the livestock consignment sales are not doing well. More and more people are privately selling their own cattle just like it was done in the good ole' days.

If you have an interest in purchasing cattle and would like to look the seller straight in the eye, take a trip to Dickinson Cattle Company and see for yourself. Seeing is believing. Cattle are for sale at all times privately, with all the questions answered and there are no consignment fees. Give us a call.

PS Note: Although, for a fact, the poorly managed sales devalue the breed. The publication of low sale prices devalue the breed. To the contrary there are about a half dozen sales a year that are amazingly professional and do a great service for the breed. I respectfully appreciate those great professional marketing folks who plan, work and benefit every producer. There is a really big difference?