LEXINGTON, Ky. — Traditionally, buying bulls is a very social business. Producers often visit farms, go to auctions or open houses to purchase animals, but that’s out of the question until the travel restrictions and social distancing requirements of COVID-19 begin to loosen.
“Many seedstock producers are already using the internet to help market their bulls, and this crisis will likely push many more in that direction,” said Darrh Bullock, beef specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “If you are in the seedstock business, I would strongly recommend establishing a website, if you don’t already have one, or marketing your business on social media
Trying to sell bulls via the internet or social media is a good way to provide vital information to potential buyers and is similar to the way producers normally sell bulls. Sellers should include performance information, hopefully in the form of Expected Progeny Differences and indexes, and photos, so buyers can visually evaluate the bulls.
“The best way to show off your stock is with good video footage, but having some still photos is valuable,” Bullock explained. “It is also important to clearly state your policies, such as returns, exchanges and other important things. Now may be the time to be more flexible with some of these policies, as customers may be more willing to buy a bull without seeing him in person, if they feel comfortable and they can exchange him if he is not what they expected.”
Bull buyers may find remote buying is a way to expand their population of potential replacement bulls. Most farmers likely attend no more than two or three sales to buy their bull but shopping online greatly expands their options.
“I encourage you to buy bulls online the same way we advise in person; identify the bulls you are interested in based on their performance information (EPDs, Indexes) and then evaluate them visually via videos and still photographs,” Bullock said. “Be aware that disposition is going to be difficult to evaluate. This is one area you need to make sure and communicate fully with the seller to ensure the bull has good temperament.”
These unprecedented times mean cattle producers must find new ways of conducting business.
“Although buying bulls from a distance may not be your first choice, technology has provided us with a viable means to stay safe while accomplishing this task,” Bullock said. “Who knows? You may find you like this method of bull shopping.”