Marketing feeder cattle has changed in the last 15 years, hasn’t it? By 2001 the internet bubble had burst and we were in a new age. Since 2002 video and internet auctions were prominent enough to compel the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service to track the activity. Today, an internet search for “internet auctions for cattle” yields pages of results. However, the volume of cattle marketed through the internet or video channels reported on the USDA’s Weekly National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary has not showed the high growth that the number of search results would suggest.
AMS tracks feeder and stocker cattle receipts from auctions, direct marketing sales and video/internet sales on a voluntary basis. The cattle cycle impacts the amount of cattle being sold to some extent and can be seen in the raw number of receipts. The proportion, however, of those moving through each channel has shifted. Video and internet auctions reached their peak when data was just starting to be collected, topping out at 30 percent of total receipts in 2003.
Since then, the proportion of cattle moving through internet sales has decreased to 15 percent on an annual basis. Direct sales volume has changed little on an annual basis, averaging 16 percent over the last 15 years. Cattle sold in conventional auction markets account for 69 percent of the receipts.