What It’s Really Like to Be a Livestock Auctioneer

By   |   October 23rd, 2018   |   0 Comments

livestock auctioneerSince a very young age, Clay Toews (husband of AgCareers.com Talent Solutions Sales Specialist, Kacey Toews) has had a strong passion for agriculture and livestock. He grew up going to sale barns across Kansas and ever since a young age, he knew he wanted to be an Auctioneer someday. Shortly after graduating High School, he pursued that passion and has been in the auction block ever since. He also gets the pleasure of serving many customers order buying livestock.


What is your title and how long have you worked as an auctioneer and order buyer?

I have been a Livestock Auctioneer and Order Buyer since 2011.


What made you want to become an auctioneer and order buyer?

Growing up in sale barns all over Kansas really spurred my passion for livestock and that way of life and I wanted to take part in the opportunity to bring stockman and buyers together behind the auction block and in front of it. I am lucky to be able to sell the animals and provide a service to my customers.


What is a day in the life like for you?

Every day is different! I can be selling cattle one day and exotic livestock the next, or I can be buying cattle to go to the feed yard or sheep and goats to go to a slaughter plant.


What skills do you think that someone should possess to become an auctioneer/order buyer?

They must have good people skills, an agriculture background or an understanding and passion for the livestock industry and they should be fast with numbers.

If you were talking to someone who wanted to be an auctioneer and order buyer, what kinds of special training would tell him or her they need?

I would recommend going to an Auction School – I personally went to Missouri Auction School in St. Louis, Missouri. As for order buying, you learn more by doing – get out there in the sale barn and use your own money.


What do you enjoy about being an auctioneer and order buyer?

The comradery that comes with attending a sale, it’s just like going to a big family reunion every time you step foot in the barn. Everyone is like family and is willing to do anything for one another. When the sale starts, we might not all be on the same side, but after the sale we are all family again.


What are the challenges of your job and the not-so-fun parts that people wouldn’t expect?

The most difficult part of this job is finding your breakout. It usually takes until you are an old man to be successful.


Another difficult part of my job is the sellers thinking something is worth more than it is and explaining to them what the true market value is. Who is to tell you what something is worth more than your peers?


As for order buying, it’s a feast or famine, you can be on top of the hill one minute and underneath it the next. Pleasing customers is always top of mind because if you don’t buy what they want, they will go somewhere else.


What would surprise someone to know about your job?

The most surprising this is how far people will travel to a sale to purchase animals.


What advice do you have for aspiring auctioneer and order buyer?

I would highly recommend finding a fellow auctioneer to become your mentor. Go and watch a good auctioneer and learn from them. Practice makes perfect, it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to believe in your process because it’s a hard industry to break into.

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