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blue-ribbonWhen it comes to private treaty cattle sales you’re not limited to choices of only beef or dairy, replacement or breeders. Most often associated with state fairs and 4-H, club calves or competition calves are perfect candidates when it comes to private treaty transactions. As buyers are looking to purchase one or two animals with very specific characteristics, auction houses and feed lots are hardly the places to find one-off sellers. As with any purchase of livestock, there are certain things to consider when looking at club or competition calves.
Registered or Grade Animal
Outside of livestock, most people associate the term ‘pure bred’ with animals like dogs or cats. However, this designation also carries over to other show animals like cattle or swine. The first thing you need to do when considering a show calf purchase is whether you’d like a registered or graded animal. While registered animals may have more opportunities when it comes to competitions and showing, graded animals can be a great place to start for a first time calf owner.
Breed Selection
Each breed of cattle has its own unique characteristics. If you already have a breed preference you’re set to go, but if you’re breed agnostic or are unsure of which breeds carry what traits be sure to discuss your plans with the seller to find out as much as you can. Selecting an animal out of a preference tested herds is recommended as they will have detailed records on topics like calf weaning weights or expected progeny differences.
Skeletal Structure
While there are a number of correctable features of cattle, one thing that cannot be correct through feed or training is the animal’s skeletal structure. Things to avoid include heifers that are sickle-hocked, back at the knees, buck-kneed, cow-hocked or that carry other skeletal defects. Whether showing for competition or simply raising for practice, the previously mentioned skeletal issues should be avoided at all costs.
While the above categories should be considered before purchasing any livestock, individual preferences and preferred characteristics will obviously vary with each person’s taste. For more information about purchasing livestock through private treaty, see this feature on our site or consult with an industry professional in your area.

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