On suckler farms selling yearling stores and autumn weanlings in spring, cattle that are well presented attract greater buying interest as a time when buyers want animals for grazing.

While time may currently be at a premium, carrying out a few jobs to prepare animals for sale is time well spent. Here are a few tasks to consider.

1 What are buyers looking for?

Marts can differ in terms of what buyers want and are prepared to pay for. For example, some marts are located in areas dominated by dairy cattle.

As such, buyers for top end continental weanlings may be limited at weekly sales in such marts, unless they are entered in a special show and sale.

Equally, there is little point showing diary beef animals in marts specialising in well-bred suckler animals with “show calf” potential.

Talk to your mart manager. Ask what buyers are currently looking for and if there are special sales coming up. Ask if buyers want weanlings that are castrated or left as bulls.

2 Tidy up stray horns and catrastion

If cattle were missed when dehorning last year, or horns have regrown, tidy them up before sale will make animals more presentable and is one less job for the buyer.

If buyers attending weekly sales are paying more for steers than bulls, think about castrating autumn born males before weaning and selling in late spring. Seek veterinary advice is necessary on anesthetic and pain relief use when dehorning and castrating.

3 Body condition

Body condition will attract buying interest. Cattle that are empty looking after being fed low to average quality silage will be better off grazed for a short period to regain condition, then sold.

Cattle, and heifers in particular, that are on the fat side should have meal levels eased back prior to sale. Buyers don’t want to be paying for weight that cattle lose as soon as they hit grass.

4 Clipping cattle

Clipping cattle along the back, and down hind-quarters, can visually make animals appear wider and square in the sale ring, attracting greater buying interest.

Clipping the tail is recommended as once cattle hit fresh grass, their dung will change and become very loose.

Tails can become heavily soiled, attracting flies which can be problematic with store heifers as summer mastitis may be an issue. Clipping can avoid this and again is one less task for buyers.

5 Batching cattle and advertising

Having cattle presented in even batches in the mart lairage will attract the attention of buyers before a sale.

Also, most marts have social media to promote sales and attract buyers. Photographing cattle and posting them online prior to selling can attract buyers that attend sales less regularly.

When photographing cattle, let them out to a clean handling yard or cattle pens with plenty of light, or apply fresh straw in bedded pens. Feed some meal to settle animals, helping them to stand better for photographs.

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