THE AUCTION EXPERIENCE
What to Expect at a Pig Auction
Attending an auction is a great education in preparing for showing a market project. Even if you already have plans to purchase your project from another resource, attending an auction should start many conversations about different types of conformations and the latest show trends. It’s also a chance to hear about which breeding lines are winning at other shows and the breeder’s perspective on their pigs. From a social aspect, it’s fun to get re-acquainted with your show friends or make new ones!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Auctions are divided into 3 sections
1. Livestock preview and buyer registration.
2. Auction of livestock.
3. Payment and pickup.
Auctioneer – This is the person who conducts auctions by accepting bids and declaring goods sold. They are the “Voice” of the auction. They will outline the rules of the auction and will state starting bid amounts as well as the increment of bids (usually $50). When they start the first pig, they will announce the Breeder or Farm Name, type of pig and some background on why this is a great pig to bid on. They will start the bidding and look for the first call. Note: Through all of the fast talking, focus on the dollar amounts being declared. They accept bids from their callers. They can also stop the bid to talk things up or clarify the bids.
Auction Callers – These are the people who stand in front of the audience and look for bids. When they see a bid they throw up their hand and call out. This is the person that you will communicate non-verbally with the price. They will be the one to place your bids.
Registration Table – This is where you register to get your auction number and pay for any animals won during the auction. The payment receipt will be shown to the handlers when you pick up your pig. This is how they ensure the correct bidder and pig go home together!
Bidders – This is you! With your registration, you will be given a bidding number. When you want to place a bid, you hold up your number. The caller will see it and call out to place you into the bid. If they don’t see you, wave your number to catch their attention.
Common hand signs to communicate prices are:
- Holding up your number – to accept the next increment of bid.
- Hold up fingers or thumbs up – to set your price or increase to the next bid level
- Flat Hand moving side to side – You are holding at that price.
- Flat Hand across your throat – You’re out.
- Shaking your head yes or no
Most auctions will have a small arena for showing the pigs. You’ll be able to see the announcer in the booth with the microphone, and the callers will be in the front to watch for bids. A handler will keep the pig moving around so that people can see the pig. Most times, the auctioneer will describe the specifics of the pig (breeder, breed, sex, weight) and will point out some keep features. As the sale proceeds,
Document the Sales Prices. During the auction, it can be helpful to document the sales price of each animal. This helps to see the price trends of the sale. Sometimes the first couple of animals will sell at lower prices, as it takes the bidders a bit of time to warm up and begin participating in the auction. The hardest part is to have several animals selected and pick one to buy. Because they are auctioned off in order, it sort of forces you to bid on the first animal on your list. This is how I came home with two pigs…when I really only wanted one!
Pay Attention! Save the chitchat with your neighbor for after the sale. The animals are auctioned at a fast rate and it is easy to miss one of your selections.
Stick to your Budget: The only exception to exceeding your budget is if your budget was not a realistic market price to begin with. For example, if you thought you could buy a pig for $200 and the bottom prices are $350, then your budget was not accurate and you will need to adjust. If the market prices are just crazy high, move-on as there are plenty of other resources to pick up a pig at a reasonable price. Pets-n-Projects.com can be a great resource for networking buyers & breeders in your area.
Feed for your Pig: If you purchase a pig, be sure to ask the breeder what feed has been given to your pig. If you will be using a different feed, you will want to take a week to transition the pig from one feed to the other. Read article “How to Safely Switch Feeds” for more details.