Production Sale Ethics
I recently attended one of the Labor Day Weekend Production sales and saw several things that continue to cause me to have concerns about the ethics that may or may not be associated with individual production sales. During the sale I attended, I purchased a nice looking doe that I had not even considered buying but the price was very low and the commentator stated she had no problems. Immediately after getting home and unloading the 3 animals I bought, I spotted a potential problem that was not easily seen from the audience and would have been next to impossible for anyone watching on the internet to have seen what I did not notice while sitting in the audience. Thus, if potential buyers, especially over the internet, can't rely on the breeders to put clean, healthy animals in the ring and have the commentator state all potential issues, we believe potential buyers in the future should be very careful in what they purchase.
Our vision of the Ideal Ethical Environment for Production Sales
When we first started in the Boer goat industry, we would tell people to be very careful about buying animals at a local, weekly/monthly sale because you may be buying another breeder's problems. We recommended they consider buying from a production sale because we believed animals sold in that environment were the best animals the breeders had to offer and they would not be offering "problem" goats. That naive vision of the industry was very quickly dashed as we realized when money is involved, some breeders will do anything to sell as many animals as possible regardless of cull factors, health issues or whatever. The first time we noticed it was associated with a very well known breeder that was part of the original group that created ABGA. That breeder had their own production sale, which we have never attended. Then as more and more production sales started to appear, this well known breeder was asked to add some animals to other productions sales to help draw in more buyers. We did attend some of those sales.
The first one we attended, the well known breeder was actually the commentator for the sale. We were looking through the animals prior to the start of the sale and all of a sudden came across an animal with a major abscess located on the body exactly where CL abscesses would be. As we continued to review the animals, we saw animals that had fresh scar areas where an abscess had been lanced. You could see older scars on other animals where we knew that abscesses had been lanced. When we looked at the mouth, we saw all sorts of problems and the same with the teats. All of the animals we saw problems with were put in the sale by the same breeder, the well known breeder. He would not have put that type of animal in his sale but he had no problem with dumping them on buyers attending sales that weren't his. We saw his name listed in a minimum of 3-4 sales that year in addition to his own sale. We just don't believe that an ethical breeder would do that and we have never purchased an animal from him or any that had his genetics associated in a major way in other animals
So here is what we consider ethical breeders would focus on when putting on a production sale and it is the ethics we try to practice as we sell private treaty. We have never participated in any production sale even though we have been offered the opportunity and we see nothing in the future to change that.
A production sale should have some ethical standards that all participating breeders will be required to follow.
A production sale generally builds a reputation that comes from the combination of the participating breeders ethics in the type of animals they put in the sale, how honest they are with potential buyers and how they treat breeders that purchase animals from their sale. We don't attend many production sales any more but here are some examples of production sales we feel have a consistent ethical standard about what was just mentioned. The Silver Gate sale with Jim and Lynn Farmer that we have known ever since we got into the industry. The Show Stopper sale with the Edwards and Ryals. We attended the first three Showstopper sales when it was made up of Edwards, Ryals and Ben Stanz. The Elite Coalition sale. We have known most of the breeders in that sale for many years and have attended the last three. We have also tested their patience for the last two years as we raised potential concerns we had with animals we purchased. They handled both of our concerns and it ended up that there was no problems what so ever. The vast majority of our breeding program has been created with the animals we purchased from those three production sales and we always feel comfortable recommending breeders to consider participating in their sale if they are looking for top quality animals.
What did not meet our expectations was the production sale we attended this Labor Day weekend. I saw animals there that I did not believe would be offered at the sales I mentioned above. I saw animals with clear cull factors that weren't mentioned by the commentator or the commentator minimized how serious the cull factor was. I purchased an animal that I believe has a health issue that was not mentioned. We are now seeing breeders buying over the internet that can't personally inspect animals and are going to be very disappointed when some of their purchases are delivered.
Internet buyers must be told about ANY issue they cannot see on the video but would be able to spot if they were at the sale to do a personal inspection.
While this is intended to protect the internet buyer, it helps the buyer in the audience that did not expect to purchase a specific animal but the price was too good to pass up. We see more and more breeders using the internet to participate in production sales that they just can't personally attend. A production sale with an ethical focus would not allow a buyer to purchase an animal with a known issue that may affect a buyer's decision. Two of the best production sales we have seen related to this is the Silver Gate and Showstopper sales. Too many times we have heard Lynn Farmer or John Edwards say "I want to alert you" or "I want to point out" about some potential issue with an animal. Buyers need to have a comfortable feeing that some problem with an animal is going to be sneaked by the buyer.
It is the buyer's ultimate responsibility to know what they are buying and take responsibility for the purchase.
That should always be the final rule. However, I believe an ethical focused production sale will help the potential buyers fully understand what they may be getting... good or bad. When a breeder buys an animal and finds a problem that they did not know about when they were bidding, they will have negative feelings about trusting that breeder again in the future. That is why the three sales I have mentioned seem to have a longer term focus than many of the other sales that are popping up now. To some of the breeders participating in these new sales, long term means will they sell the animals they are offering that day and not have to carry them home.
Breeders should not offer animals in a sale that they will not be proud to represent them in the industry.
Earlier I talked about the well known breeder that was participating in so many other sales and putting animals in with cull factors and health issues. Do you think he likes to be known for raising them. His problem was he was so well known that it did not matter for a while that he was polluting the industry with culls or animals with CL. I don't see him participating in many sells anymore. I know of some production sales that quit inviting him to their sale. That is good but many of those production sales got the bad reputation and many are no longer with us. We have also attended a production sale where the owner of a national grand champion buck was invited as a guest consignor. He brought offspring from his buck. As we eagerly looked at them, we found teat and mouth problems over and over. Our thoughts were either that buck produces a lot of animals with culls or the owner was just bringing animals with culls to get rid of them before his own production sale occurred. Either way, we stay as far away from any genetics coming out of that buck. There are too many nice animals in the industry now to take any chances about whether the buck or the owner was the problem.
Breeders should give fairly honest descriptions and pictures in catalog
I was really disappointed in this last production sale I attended after reviewing the catalog prior to attending the sale. First there was at least one doe sold that had a picture that had been taken several years earlier when she looked much better. Another issue was seeing write-up saying "straight from our show string" and yet when I checked on the ABGA online database, the animal had never won at a show. What does that tell you about a breeder if they mislead breeders like that? Another statement would be "own an animal that already has show points". When I looked it up, they may have 1-4 points and it looked like there was little to no competition when they won. The last concern was seeing that a breeder was offering a 18 month old doe they had bought from another well known breeder but when I checked on the doe, she did not have any kids registered and showed no signs that she had ever kidded. Why would someone buy a high priced doe, not get any kids that they would register and then put her in a sale? I would have major concerns about buying that doe.
The commentator should be more than a cheer leader selling the animals at a production sale.
This is a major peeve of mine. We have attended so many sales and listened to commentator after commentator that had nothing but good things to say about every animal. When we started listening to that, we know we can't take anything they are saying as useful. At the Labor Day weekend sale I attended I was going around looking at animals prior to the sale with some new friends. They wanted to know what we look for in the animals and if I would look at some they were considering buying. I was happy to do that. They had two young doe kids they wanted to consider buying because the kids were out of the main genetics coming to the sale. I looked at the first doe and told them to look at the mouth with me. It was really off badly. We went to the next doe kid which was a sister to the first one. When we looked at the second ones mouth, it was worse than the first. I then made a comment that seeing two bad mouths with the same genetics raises a major red flag that either the sire, the dam or the combination of the two may consistently produce kids with cull factors. We looked at another animal out of the buck and it had a bad mouth.
When the first doe kid came up in the sale, the mouth was not mentioned by the commentator. The second one came into the ring and the commentator mentioned the mouth was off "a little" but should be correcting as she got older. This was the one with the worse mouth and had a gap around 1/4 of an inch at the age of 4-5 months. When the lower teeth are missing the pad by that much, it is only going to get worse. The Boer standards require the teeth and pad match until they are two years old and then can have a gap of 1/4 inch. This means the associations expect the lower teeth to move farther away from the pad as the animal gets older. So this commentator was completely wrong in what he said. If the commentator did not know any better, he should not have been doing the commentary. If he did know better, breeders should remember his name and know they may not be able to trust him or do business with him in the future.
We fully understand the commentator is there to help sell the animals by pointing out the good features. However, when they go to extremes to make every feature sound great and totally ignore the problems, they have hurt the reputation of the production sale as well as the commentator their self.
We believe breeders that attend production sales personally or by internet should start to demand some type of ethics focus by the production sales. How can breeders demand that?
There are too many good animals and genetics in the US now to support breeders that don't have good ethics in their offering animals through production sales. The only way the industry can get these production sales cleaned up is to quit supporting them with purchases. We will not be supporting the sale we attended this Labor Day weekend and especially not some of the breeders that were cosigners.