As I prepare for the dispersal sale, we have had a lot of questions come up about sorting through the 100+ head we will be offering.
I remind buyers that our sale, like many dispersals, is putting a lot of animals onto the market at a single time. Be prepared, because prices most likely will be very much in favor of the buyers.
Sorting through a dispersal sale can be an overwhelming task, but one that can be made more manageable by following some of these tips from industry experts:
1. UNDERSTAND THE BREEDER!! Club calf breeder Joe Basinger points out, “Know the reputation of the breeder and their animals. Do a little research of what works for them, and see if it lines up with your own personal goals for your program”.
Sheep industry expert Mark Johnson reminds buyers to shop dispersal sales where ALL animals are selling, and to avoid ‘house cleaning’ sales, where just a few of the bottom end animals may sell.
2. ITS ALL ABOUT THE....FEMALES!! The key to most successful programs lies in managing ewe families. Figure out which ewe families will work for your program, and find as many sisters and daughters in that line as you can.
Many experts suggest focusing on one or two lines, and purchasing as many females from those as you can. On older ewes, producer Eric Shellhouse suggests, “Ignore the picture and look at how they performed. Often it’s the ugly twin sister of a show ewe that performs.”
Johnson suggests, “Look for awesome young sheep and [then] find their mothers and sisters.”
3. LET AGE BE AN INDICATOR!! The best producers are only keeping animals around that are paying for themselves. The older females are still there for a reason, most likely having successfully produced for multiple years. Additionally, older animals have animals on the ground you can analyze. There is less risk involved in trying to guess how these females will work.
To many breeders, the highlight of a production sale is finally getting the opportunity to own those females that, in normal circumstances, would never, ever be made available – for any price.
Basinger says, “I don’t have a particular age of a female that I target. If they are good and they produce, they are worth trying.”
However, as Shellhouse points out, “Unless you plan to flush, be realistic about how many lamb crops a 6-year old has left.”
And Basinger reminds buyers, “It’s important to set a limit on how much you will spend on older [females]. Reality might be that you only get a couple of years out of them with their age.” But experts note, it only takes one season for a good female to produce that next top stud.
Johnson suggests analyzing younger females, specifically ewe lambs for several reasons. “I prefer to add ewe lambs. It gives them time to adapt to a new climate and management practices before being asked to produce.”
4. DON’T MISS THE STUDS! A dispersal sale also offers a great opportunity to purchase full or partial interests in stud power that would normally not be available. “Proven rams can be a great asset,” says Johnson.
In a dispersal sale, you have the chance to purchase the stud power they were actually using. Most people come to dispersal sales after females, which often means that the bucks can be purchased at a discount.
5. USE ALL YOUR TOOLS!! Johnson reminds us to “Always use all of the tools as your disposal” when making purchasing decisions from a dispersal sale. Analyze production records and, possibly most important of all, talk to the producer!
Basinger says, “I always believe in analyzing on phenotype and genetics combined. In our world, there are certain pedigrees that work really well for producing certain types and you need to know what those pedigrees are.”
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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