Online livestock sales: a fast growing market

Buying and selling cattle online isn’t a new concept, but the explosion of social media and internet marketing and the pandemic has greatly accelerated the spread of online auctions in many countries. Selling animals online has a lot of advantages over traditional selling, and not only saves farmers money and time, but also has additional positive returns. No wonder if online auctions and live video streams of sales are booming.

With cow-calf operations, as with other farm enterprises, making a profit is the only thing that will keep you in business. How much profit you make depends largely on your ability to market your calves. The idea of buying and selling cattle online may make farmers uncomfortable. Given how valuable cattle are, It is understandable that this process would make people wary.

The explosion of social media and internet marketing has been embraced by the agricultural sector, giving rise to an increasing number of online livestock ‘buy and sell’ sites. These sites are free to advertise on, but also unregulated, so prospective buyers should weigh up the risks and benefits before purchasing animals through these sites.

Coronavirus restrictions have led to a surge in interest in online sales

Agriculture and food production cannot stop during the epidemic either, so many farmers have been looking for new solutions.  Livestock sales moves online as coronavirus restrictions encourages new approach to selling and buying animals. The click of a computer mouse or tap of a mobile phone are replacing the noisy bustle of livestock auctions as COVID-19 restrictions disrupt the traditional world of saleyards. With cattle and sheep farmers barred from auctions, they’re turning to their devices to do business.

2020 highlighted, the restrictions on travel meant many people couldn’t physically attend bull sales or seedstock auctions. So it is not surprising that during the battle against Covid-19, there has been a marked increase in the number of farmers moving online to buy and sell cattle. Number of marts held virtual auctions online, and these have been deemed a major success. While these sales are welcome news for farmers, online activity on livestock trading platforms have also continued to witness rapid growth.

Online is not a new concept

Buying and selling cattle online is not a new concept. For example, in Australia online marketing of cattle began over two decades ago with the launch of CALM – Computer Aided Livestock Marketing. CALM was the forerunner to the most recognised and popular system of selling in Australia.


The AuctionsPlus is Australia’s most trusted online auction platform for agricultural and livestock sales. It is an independent digital trading site, where livestock will be auctioned in an open system and bids can be taken from anywhere in the country.  It has an independent and objective description that is supplied on all animals listed for sale. Every lot is described for basic traits such as sex, age, weight, breed, temperament and pregnancy status.  But there are also plenty of other details such as breeding details, pasture and feed types and even notes on the background of the cattle or sheep.  Listings also have photographs and videos so you can see the cattle as well as read the details and notes. 

As a producer seeking to earn the highest return the opportunity to advertise and expose cattle to a national audience has great appeal.  The more people who see your cattle, the greater the opportunity to have competitive bidding and potentially a better return.

The UK’s number one livestock marketplace, the reaches 90 thousand farmers to buy and sell livestock in the UK and Europe and get instant quotes for haulage. A team of experts is behind the site’s matchmaking service, which greatly supports livestock trading. If you are a buyer looking for high quality livestock at a fair price, or a seller looking for buyers who are ready to commit to a purchase, their expert team can find you the perfect match, saving you time and hassle. If you are looking to buy or sell livestock, feed or bedding with a value of £5,000 or more, they’ll find it for you and get it delivered in one single transaction.

Why use Matchmaker?

·         Minimal back and forth between the two farmers, you are saved the hassle of dealing with multiple enquiries.

·         Not only can they get your stock sold or find new livestock for your farm, also take care of all payments, admin work, negotiation and can even arrange the transportation of the livestock.

· have an extensive national database and work with farmers or larger companies that you may not have access to yourself. is an online marketing service that is more than just a web page to market your cattle. The site was created by the founders for that purpose, that they believe that you shouldn’t have to wait for an auction to trade or buy great, new cattle. That is why they created an easy-to-use, web tool for buying and trading cattle. Listing cattle on means having the ability to market your cattle to anyone around the country, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This means more time, more exposure and more buyers all without leaving the farm. By clicking on the page, you can browse all the cattle you want from the comfort of your own home, and you can place a bid with a simple click.  You can search by lot size, weight, region, health, and more. You can even see how the calves were raised and inspect the lot right online.

They provide assistance and connect a network of buyers and sellers across the country to increase market exposure for your cattle. Sorting, loading and trucking is also available to make your buying experience more enjoyable.

Online listings can save time and money

It also became obvious that attending sales online, either to buy sires or to sell or buy commercial cattle, resulted huge savings of time and money. The additional benefits of online selling, beyond the broader exposure, include a reduction in the cost of vendors as well as purchasers.  Purchasers can save time by looking online before traveling.  It also means an added animal welfare benefit, as animals don’t need to be trucked to saleyards to be sold. Vendors don’t have to muster and truck cattle to sell yards.  This can create savings in time, reduction in livestock stress during the sale process as well as eliminating additional costs such as yard and transport fees.

New skills needed for online auctions

Buying and selling cattle online can be a significantly profitable business. To make money you should not focus on the dealing process only but also on how you treat the cattle. If you offer poor health cattle, you may not take advantage of your dealing efforts.

Prepare for sales and dealing herds. Public sales represent small-scale selling, while bulk selling comprises of dealing hundreds of livestock online all at once. To be successful, you must examine the current cost in the marketplace so you can get a grasp on what your buying offers should be and what you can expect to get when you offer your cattle. At the beginning of the auction, costs are always different from the rate, but this is the way through which consumers bargain down to a mutually flexible cost. Become knowledgeable about how to play with costs when negotiating.

Advantages of online auction

    • Vendor can set a reserve price; stock do not have to leave the property until it is met.

    • No transport costs for vendor.

    • Payment is guaranteed.

    • Large range of buying and selling options.

    • Particularly suits geographically isolated producers, although this method can be used anywhere with any numbers.

    • Feedback is provided to producers for c/kg and grid sales.

    • Minimal transport and handling damage.


Disadvantages of online auction

    • Buyers have to adjust to using a computer and not viewing live animals.

• Vendors and buyers need to have confidence in the assessors for accurate stock description.

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