If you raise animals on your homestead you probably need to sell some from time to time. By “raise,” I mean “reproduce” Selling homestead livestock is a natural part of the homesteading lifestyle.
Reasons to sell livestock
Sometimes one ends up with too many animals.
Selling livestock can act as kind of a “safety valve” for your homestead. Almost everyone who raises livestock at some point finds that they have to reduce numbers to a more manageable level. Remember, we have the animals as a means of helping with expenses or to improve our lives (eating better, etc.). When we get to the point that having livestock costs us too much in time or money or harms our environment, then it’s time to reduce our livestock. We can do this reducing the rate of reproduction, processing animals for food or selling some.
I generally raise a certain number of chickens, every year, for our table as well as for chick sales. This year I realized with a start, that we had far more large birds “coming down the pike” than we needed. To correct this I sold over 50 chickens all at once! I let them go at an extremely low price, just to offload them and stop paying on feed. We still got some cash for them. The buyers were blessed with an inexpensive source of meat. The transaction itself was a blessing. I made some new friends.
Selling livestock can be a means of income.
In the case I just mentioned, I made some money, though honestly, not as much as it cost to raise those birds. I needed to cut my losses, so selling was the logical thing to do. Sometimes, however, I actually do make a profit. In most cases it’s not easy to make a profit, as one must consider the cost of production and also deal with competition, which drives prices down. Still, with practice one can profit. A basic principle is to try to sell animals young. The longer they are in your possession, the more you’ve probably spent on feed and maintenance. This is why I am big on selling chicks. When society is feeling insecure (like in the spring of 2020) chickens and rabbits sell especially well. I can easily sell breeding trios of ducks in early spring but must consider the cost of feeding them until then. Sheep and goats sell really well in our area, just before Christmas, when many ethnic groups are looking for party food. Many years these Christmas time sales have been a huge help for our family.
Sales can be a means meeting people and helping others.
One of the things I simply love about selling livestock is that I get to meet and help people who are new to homesteading and want to learn how to raise animals! I also meet other interesting folk such as hobbyists who specialize in certain species and know more them than do I. These can become my resource people. Many years I’ll sell an extra milking goat, in milk, in the spring. Some of my favorite buyers have purchased these does and returned, asking for advice. I consider this to be a ministry as, when it comes to milk goats, nothing beats having a mentor. I’ve already mentioned that even selling at a loss may at times be a means of blessing someone with good, healthy food.
The Problem of Setting a Price on Your Livestock
Factors to consider
- It’s important to know the going price of an animal. One can check sources like Craigslist, or in some cases, the local sales barn, for recent prices.
- If you ask too much, it’ll be difficult or impossible to sell.
- If you ask too little, you’ll probably lose money and regret making the sale.
- Be honorable. If you offer a certain price, don’t raise it in the middle of negotiation.
- Do most of your thinking and calculations before negotiating with a potential buyer. I used to conclude some sales, immediately wishing, that I hadn’t sold that cheaply. I learned to think it through before dealing with potential buyers.
- Remember, when you’re feeding, sometimes it’s better to sell cheap, than to keep feeding.
- Use experience for learning about sales. If you make a mistake, don’ t let it get you down. Learn from it and do better next time.
Where does one go to sell livestock?
Here are some outlets for selling homestead livestock:
- The local sale barn or poultry auction: This is not usually my first choice when I’m hoping to get a really good price for my animal, but such sales outlets will seldom let you down if you just have to sell. Additionally, these places can be wonderful places to frequent while learning about the animals you’re interested in. Many sellers, and even the operators of the sales, can be a wealth of knowledge.
- The bulletin board in your local feed store can be a good way of advertising what you want to sell, An advantage to using this outlet, is that you’re almost certainly going to sell to someone local. A disadvantage may be that the bulletin board is so crowded that you struggle to post your ad.
- Craigslist is one of my favorite outlets. I’ve met many wonderful folk through Craigslist… and a few creeps. So, use discretion. If possible, don’t be alone when you sell to someone you don’t know. Perhaps, if possible, meet them in a public place, away from your homestead, in order to do the transaction. Sometimes I carry (concealed) when selling this way. Still, I think this is my favorite avenue of sales.
- Facebook has some sales groups. I pretty much avoid Facebook, though, because of their tendency not to understand the facts of life.
- Word of mouth: takes a while, but if you have a good, steady production of something in demand, word spreads.
Do you have a suggestion such as a kind of livestock which sells well or a sales avenue? We’d love to hear about it in our comments area!
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes