Online sales of antiques, toys and even farm equipment have become nearly commonplace, happening more often than live sales in some locations. This spring may market he transitional year for the same trend in livestock sales. A visit to www.showpig.com alone will reveal well over a hundred online sales, some of them already over, that featured from a few head to several head at one time.
One sheep producer stopped having a live production and club lamb sale last year and now goes with two online sales in the spring. He allows people to come to his farm to have a looks, but buyers also can bid without ever visiting the farm.
At a live sale in Boone County recently, sponsored for customers who used semen form Prairie States' boars, quality animals still brought a good price. Prairie States operates a boar stud in Illinois, and sponsors the sale for customers who used their boars and want to offer 4-H pigs for sale.
One potential buyer was overheard to say what many others were thinking.
"Unless you go visit the farm ahead of time, you really don't know what you're getting in an animal from an online sale until it arrives on your farm. You can't tell if it can walk form a picture, and you don't always have all the views you need to decide if it's an animal you want to bid on."
Nevertheless, online sales mushroomed this year. Those who use them as sellers say there is less hassle than having a live sale, plus you can offer smaller lots of animals and still know you're going to get a good crowd. If you want to have two to three sales instead of one to appeal to people who have fairs at different times, or who are looking for breeding stock vs. 4-H animals, it's also easier to do.