Smallholders who want to sell one or more of their animals have various options. They can advertise on Sasfox, the South African Small Farmers’ Online Exchange, and conduct a private sale. In this case they can state the price that they want for the animal. They can also sell them to abattoirs or feedlots.

Alternatively they can take their animals to an auction. The seller does not state the price that he or she wants, although he/she can state a reserve or minimum price. An auction is a public sale in which goods are sold to the highest bidder. In other words, people who want to buy show the auctioneer how much they are willing to pay for the animal and the animal is sold to the person who offers the highest price.

General livestock auctions tend to sell a mixture of animals, beef and dairy cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens. Livestock auctioneering companies supply calendars with information such as dates and venues. Calendars are available at livestock auction houses.

A calendar auction is held at the same place on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or even yearly basis.

Auction venues

A livestock auctioneer can also conduct on-farm auctions of a specific breed, e.g. a dairy auction or a breeding cow or bull auction. It’s called a dispersal sale if the seller is no longer going to be keeping livestock.

At a stud auction animals of special breeding qualities are for sale. The auctioneer and the sellers will work closely with a breed society who will select the animals according to their standards for such an auction.

All reputable auctioneers have websites and are easily accessible. Auctioneers are now conducting more online auctions.

But preparing an animal and the paperwork for an auction is quite a process.

To sell an animal one has to register with the auctioneer and book the animal in to the chosen sale.

Animal identification

All animals must be correctly branded or tattooed with the owner’s own brand. The stock theft unit inspects animals at the auction and if they do not comply they will not allow them to be sold. According to the Animal Identification Act, 2002, it is compulsory to mark all cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

This entails:

  • Registering with the National Department of Agriculture in Pretoria,
  • Applying for and being allocated your own identification mark,
  • Ensuring that your animals are tattooed or branded with your mark. You can do this yourself or have it done by a registered contractor.

Permanent identification marks can be put on animals by means of hot iron branding, freeze branding or tattooing. For more information on animal identification click here to download the Manual for the Prevention of Stock Theft in the livestock section. It contains a whole chapter on the identification process.

The animals on offer must also be in a good condition. The SPCA sends inspectors to the stock sales and any animals that have been abused, injured or starved may be confiscated. The health and welfare of the animals being traded is of paramount importance to both buyer and seller.

Download a certificate of removal here.  Complete and take to the auction, so that you can hand it to the buyer who will use them as proof of purchase when transporting them to his premises.

If you do not have this documentation officials may fine you or confiscate your animals.

Owners must be present to sell their livestock. They may not send other people to sell on their behalf without a signed affidavit that they may do so, and a valid identity document. This rule helps to reduce the sale of stolen animals.


It is up to the owner to transport the animal to the auction in a vehicle that is suitable for carrying livestock. You can contract transport companies  to transport your animals. Make sure that there is no overloading, as an overloaded vehicle is dangerous on the road. Trampling can take place if there are too many animals on a truck. The traffic police and the SPCA are always on the lookout for overloaded vehicles.

Vehicles and trailers have to comply with regulations to be suitable to transport animals. You may not tie animals down by the legs or body on the back of an unsuitable trailer or vehicle. They may only be tied by the head (with a halter) or by their horns to the rails of a suitable vehicle to stop them jumping out. Bakkies and trailers must have suitable approved rails to contain the animals. Do not use a home-made crate. The floor of the vehicle must be non-slip. Lay a mesh or rubber mat on the floor to stop animals slipping and falling. Keep a certificate of removal of animals on the vehicle.

auctioning livestock
Auction arena shows off the animal to advantage.

Auction process

Once you reach the auction venue, fill out the form of Acknowledgement of Receipt with your name, address, ID number and stock identification details.

Note that you still own the livestock. They are your responsibility until they have been sold.

Finalise the transaction, then draw up the clearance statement and make sure that all the particulars are correct.

Accept payment, preferably in cash. A safer option is to have your money deposited electronically into your bank account.

The person who acquires the stock may not receive the stock without receiving the document of identification at the time of delivery. If a person receives the stock without the document, such a person is guilty of an offence.

The biggest advantage of an auctioning your livestock is that emerging or small-scale owners can easily buy and sell at a market related price. Large auctions attract a lot of buyers, making prices more competitive.

To read more about keeping livestock, click here. To subscribe to SA Smallholder Online click here.

4 thoughts on “How To Auction Livestock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *