What Does a Livestock Buyer Do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 27 February 2020
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A livestock buyer purchases animals for slaughter or breeding on behalf of a farmer or meat processing facility. In some nations, buyers must be certified by a government agency in order to work. The job involves travel to farms, feedlots, and processing plants as well as performing research into market trends and the industry as a whole. Compensation can vary by region, employer, and the nature of the job.

Some livestock buyers focus on acquiring animals for slaughter. They inspect available livestock at feedlots and farms, selecting animals on behalf of their employers. Buyers look for healthy animals likely to pass inspection and also consider issues like the size of the animal and the likely quality of the meat. Some also supervise slaughter, and inspect the carcasses to evaluate their quality.

They can represent meat processing plants, butchers, grocery stores, and other organizations that may buy animals for slaughter. Buyers may work for specific companies or as consultants who may represent multiple clients at any given time. Travel is necessary to locate animals for purchase, and in some cases a livestock buyer may also want to visit the farms livestock originated from to collect information on animal welfare and farming conditions.


Farms need new stock for breeding as well as farming to develop mature animals; some farmers may not run their own breeding programs and rely on a livestock buyer to locate appropriate animals. The buyer may travel to farms and auction lots to locate appropriate animals, and arrange transport to clients. For breeding operations, a livestock buyer can provide advice on purchases of stock, looking for animals with good genetic traits and a known record of producing viable and valuable offspring.

It may be necessary to follow market trends to know what kind of meat is selling, in addition to where, and in what volumes it is typically sold. Livestock buyers use this information to provide business advice to farmers and other clients. Market research can include attending trade shows, reading industry publications, and following events in the news. If a trend for lean meats arises, for example, the livestock buyer needs to be ready to advise clients on the best ways to meet demands from customers.

Working conditions can be hot and dirty, with potentially long hours. Buyers may need to stay at auctions and feedlots as long as it takes to fill an order. Their work can involve inspecting animals in hazardous conditions like crowded pens and slaughterhouses. Comfort with livestock can be a valuable asset for a livestock buyer.


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