Thursday, August 26, 2010

A day at the livestock auction

I had accumulated quite a few extra roosters who had worn out their welcome,a nd I decided to try a different way to get rid of them. I packed them up and my friend Martha joined me for a day at Woody's Auction in Woodland, WA - a genuine livestock/farm auction. No pictures for this post, pictures aren't allowed at the auction.

Some poultry people I've talked to had mentioned the auction to me, and I figured it was worth a try. It is just outside of Woodland on Cedar Creek Road, and looks like it has been there forever. The buildings look like they could fall down on your head. We arrived and parked in the field/parking lot and wandered up to check the place out to start with. Outside appeared to be like a flea market, or a garage sale, just junk of all sorts laid out on the ground. Then we came to plants and trees, and they were actively auctioning some of that stuff off to folks sitting on plastic chairs under a vinyl carport. We continued towards the buildings where we could hear crowing.

I had been told to bring my poultry at about 10:30 and they would put them in a cage, and then hang around for the auction at noon. We walked through and looked at the chickens, ducks, geese, doves, phesants, and rabbits already awaiting auction - there were a LOT. More than I expected! When we asked about bringing mine up the guy showed us where to go, but said he was all out of cages. So my birds were left stuck in their carriers until auction time. I had my big black roo in a small cardboard box and I felt sorry for him because he couldn't even turn around, but it couldn't be helped. Our Lot # was 80! That tells you how many were ahead of us.

We walked around the sale barn and peered into the dark stalls at the goats, sheep and pigs. This was a small livestock auction, they do horses and cows on another day. There were some goats that looked awfully skinny, though there was a cute ewe with two little lambs at her side which was pretty tempting. The weaner pigs were cute little guys. After having a look around we went into the auction ring and had a seat on the bleachers and waited. We ran into some folks we knew, like the chicken lady from the feed store, and passed the time chatting.

Finally, it got to be time to start the auction. They started out with 20-some bags of red potatoes. Then came some bags of animal bedding, and a straw bale, then a seemingly endless supply of fresh eggs by the dozens. Finally they got to animals. I had my eye on a couple buff orpington hens, but they way they do it is that if the lot is for 4 hens, you bid on the price of one hen, then you buy all four in the lot - so it's a 'by the head' price. The hens went for $12 each, which is a fair price, about what I would expect to pay on CL, except there I'd have at least a chance to find out more about them - here all I could tell is what I knew by looking at them.

Some of the animals were sickly looking, plucked, skinny, but the majority looked just fine. Most of the  poultry was young roosters, people were bringing them in to get rid of them because they were harassing their hens and eating them out of house and home - same as me. Big roosters went for about $9 - small for around $5. Roosters at the beginning of the auction went for more than ones at the end. Most went to an Asian couple who were buying most of the roosters and ducks, I'm guessing they have a restaurant. Everyone there seemed to know them.

There were probably 100 people bidding. People were buying up animals, some asked him to break up lots so they could buy just a single rabbit as a pet and they did, and the auction runner handed the kids their rabbit to sit up in the bleachers and hold.


After a long time my lots came up. The auction runner pulled my big black cochin out of the box, and held him up flapping and sqwaking for everyone to see. They bid him up to $5 or so. Then he brought up my carrier with the three young roosters and the white cochin hen who has been laying weird eggs, and he pulled them out and held them up for all to see - I think they went for $3 each. Then the last carrier had 6 of the 4 week old chicks from my incubator batch. I picked out the ones that I felt confident were roosters. No point in feeding them for another month or two if I could get someone else to take them. And someone else did, for $2.50 a chick. So my animals brought about $32, and the auction house will keep a piece of that. They said they'd send a check if I didn't want to hang around and wait for it, and the long line of people waiting to pay told me I didn't want to wait for it.

We left shortly after my lots were through. It was already heading for 3pm, and Martha had a dog walk to go do. We went outside and located my carriers and got the runner to put the birds in one of their cages which was empty now, so i could take my carriers home. Martha said it would be interesting to come again sometime, but to drop off the birds early, so they could be in one of their cages, then come back later to see the auction, or stay late enough for the sheep/goats/pigs next time. It was an interesting experience. I'm not sure if I'd want to do it again.

Update: I got my check 2 days later! My birds sold for $38 and change, they kept $11 for their commission, so I got about $26 back. Not bad, that will pay for 2 bags of feed. I wish I'd known how this worked before I resorted to giving away all those big roosters earlier this summer.

Plus my hens are so much happer with all those extra roosters gone, I got two eggs this morning - yay!

_

4 comments:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow! Sounds facinating.....a slice of traditional American lifestyles.

And how great to make some money from your birds, too. I've had to give allmy roosters away. Noone is willing to pay for roosters around here. More supply than demand.

I've never been to a livestock auction. I'd like to go at least once and check on out. I'd be afraid I'd come home with something, though.
I think I'd get emotional watching a horse auction, too.

~Lisa

StefRobrts said...

I don't think I could watch a horse auction either. I'm glad we left before the sheep and goats came up, or I might have found myself trying to figure out how to put a ewe and two lambs in the back of the car!

Amy Manning said...

Interesting. Thanks for your story. I've wondered how those auctions work. Pretty sure there are a few here in Clackamas County but I don't know how to find them.

StefRobrts said...

Amy, I know there's a big auction in Woodburn, you might look into that. It would be interesting to see, but I've heard that's where all the meat-buyers go for horses :(