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SONY DSCThere are few things more traditional in this world than a livestock auction. Ranchers and buyers gather at local or regional auction houses and, literally, trot their stock out for display and bidding. But as with other advances in the last few decades, the digital world has begun to take hold in the world of livestock auctions. Sites like,, and have opened the doors for ranchers to easily advertise their stock to potential buyers across the country. But as with any advance in technology, there are a few tips that first-time users should keep in mind when buying and selling livestock online.
Do Your Research
The ease of listing livestock classifieds online means that almost anyone can do it, but that means that almost ANYONE can do it – including scammers. While traditional livestock auctions will often have face-to-face negotiations with contracts signed in-person, online livestock auctions are often transacted between two relative strangers. It’s important to vet the site you’re looking to buy or sell through to ensure it’s a legitimate website. A simple call to the site’s listed 800-number or an email to the company’s customer service team can be all you need. Friends and family who have used online livestock classifieds in the past can also be a great resource if it’s your first time. If you’re still unsure, consult with the Better Business Bureau or ask about the company’s insurance and dispute processes.
Because livestock buyers and sellers have been more cautious than others when it comes to adopting online transactions, it’s important to communicate as clearly and openly as possible. Clearly stating your intentions on contract items like the release of funds, transportation, deposits and return policies can save time and frustration later on. Most dissolved contracts could have been easily saved with a simple phone call or email between the two parties to clarify minor discrepancies. Consolidating all of the documents for each transaction in one place can also be a great help in these types of negotiations.
Protect Your Funds
When dealing with relatively unknown parties, or with transactions that require transportation over long distances, it’s important to safeguard your funds. Due to the high dollar amount associated with livestock deals, online escrow can be a great option for both buyers and sellers. Online escrow companies, like PaySAFE, simply act as a neutral third party between the buyer and seller. Buyers are protected as funds are not released until there’s proof that the livestock have been loaded for transport, or have arrived for a final inspection. Sellers are also protected because purchase funds are verified and held upfront – completely eliminating the risk of non-payment, insufficient funds, fraudulent checks and credit card chargebacks.
When it comes right down to it, online livestock listings aren’t all that different from a new buyer or seller walking into your local auction house. Sure, you need to put a bit more legwork into creating a listing or bidding in auctions, but the potential payoff of opening up your business to a national audience is obvious.
For more tips on how to buy and sell through online livestock auctions, see our postings on the history of livestock auctions, transporting livestock safely, and our how to on private treaty livestock sales.

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