The ins and outs of auctions – African Farming

There is an expectancy of positive outcomes at a livestock sale. This is where farmers network, meet up with other local farmers, talk farming, get an idea of prices and look at one another’s animals. The auction is a place where people connect and leave more hopeful at the end of the day.

In the country’s current environment, hope and encouragement is what farmers need, says Vleissentraal auctioneer Craig le Roux. 

African Farming presenter Tony Ndoro asks Le Roux what feeding measures farmers should take when preparing their animals for auction. “Not much preparation goes into the weekly sales,” Le Roux explains. “Farmers just pitch up and sell their livestock.”

Preparing for a breed sale or a stud sale is quite different, though: farmers work hard to get their animals in the right condition for the sale. “They supplement with licks and other feed to condition their animals,” he says. 

Elevated commodity prices driven by global shortages and the war in Ukraine have led to high feed, fertiliser and fuel prices, and farmers are feeling the pinch, especially small-scale farmers.

“Not everyone has enough grazing and some farmers don’t have the funds to fatten their stock,” Le Roux explains. Vleissentraal accepts a wide range of animals by weight, as they are aware of the difficulties farmers face through winter. “There are always buyers keen to take stock they can fatten themselves,” he says. 

Auctioneers tend to be busier at certain times of the year. In January the feedlots are keen to get weaners they can supply for the Easter weekend. There is also a demand for sheep, cattle and goats around Eid at the end of Ramadaan. In May prices may lower but they begin to pick up towards August as the market role players prepare for Christmas. “There is a spike in demand for C-grade cows in winter,” Le Roux adds. 

Vleissentraal hosts farmers’ days and information events where farmers can get guidance on markets and nutrition. “Especially the small-scale guys will get the benefit here,” says Le Roux. 

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