Here is a little info to help clarify – especially for first timers. This information is for fat steer, feeder steer and swine exhibitors.
The time to start preparing for the sale is now. You will need to arrange for buyers for your animal, if you want to get a good price.
Here is some information for writing buyer letters:
Buyer’s Invitation Letter:
If you want to be successful and get the best price for your animal, you must market yourself and your animal. You need to find a buyer before the fair who is interested in your animal and you. You simply cannot show up at the fair auction and expect buyers to want your animal. You have spent a lot of time and energy raising and caring for your animal, now you need to spend a lot of time finding the right people to buy your animal. It is your responsibility to help get new and returning buyers to come to the livestock sales. The buyer’s letter is an excellent way to market your project steer or swine animal. The letter should include 3 paragraphs with a minimum of 9 sentences, using the following format:
Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself (name, age, school, club/chapter, what other shows you participate in, etc.);
Paragraph 2: Tell what the project is (steer, swine) and describe what you learned from the project (do not just say “I learned responsibility” or “I learned time management,” but explain how you learned it and why it is important);
Paragraph 3: Invite them to the fair and using salesmanship ask them to buy your market animal.
Send these letters to people you know in the community or companies that you or your family do business with.
The term buyer may be misleading. Your animal project will not be retained by the buyer. The buyer is actually making a donation which supports you and the fair. All of the animals will be purchased and taken by our resale buyers. They will look at the whole lot of animals and make a bid. The highest bidder will get all of the animals. The amount they pay will be credited to your buyer or buyers.
After your animal sells, you should make a point to find out who your buyers were. Many exhibitors prepare gifts for the buyers, but that is not required. Be sure to thank your buyer(s) in person. Sometimes this can make you feel awkward or uncomfortable, but it is important. The buyer is spending his/her money for you and the only thing they get in return is your appreciation.
It is also important that you understand that your animal will be leaving at the end of the sale day. You should start to prepare yourself for this now, as it is sometimes a sad thing to do.
Sometime around the beginning of May, your check will be issued and sent to your FFA advisor or 4H county agent. You will be paid the bid price from the buyer, multiplied by the weight of your animal (3% is deducted for shrink on the steers), minus the commission retained by the fair. You must write a letter to each of your buyers. Do not send them until you show the original letter to your advisor or county agent. You must write these letters even if you personally know the buyers or are related to them. You must write these letters even if you thanked the buyers in person, gave them a gift, or put an ad in the paper to thank them. This step is required, and is mandatory, and there are no exceptions. When this is done, you will be given your check. Spend it wisely and enjoy the benefits of your hard work!