Mention “Poultry Auctions” to people in the poultry world and it can often draw a mixed bag of responses.
Some will vehemently claim they are to be avoid at all costs as they are places where disease and poor quality stock are peddle by ruthless traders. Others will stand up for them as being a place where there is a chance of seeing a wide variety of stock and an opportunity to source new breeds or bloodlines. All though share a view that if buying you need to keep your eyes wide open.
I’ve had the opportunity over the years to attend many auctions, initially as an observer, then as a buyer which progressed to a being a seller, and now as a combination of all three. Recently though an opportunity arose, the chance to actually organise an auction. I can now see the arguments for and against from all angles, and it can paint a complex picture.
There’s no off-the-shelf package or book on how to set up an auction, and by equal measure, short of the animal licence requirements, there is no hard and fast rules on what or how poultry can or cannot be auctioned. It is basically down to the individuals running the auction to define their own criteria and ultimately set their own regulations.
From the experiences of being buyer, seller and now auction organiser I’ve drawn the following conclusions:
Those are points that could be made of any auction for any goods, in fact I could easily have been writing about cars or antiques, so what is to be said about the world of poultry auctions?
It is true that due to the numerous small scale breeding set ups around the country, the auction does provide an excellent opportunity to sell a number of birds to a wider audience as opposed using adverts. It also provides an ideal opportunity to add to new bloodlines or breeds to your existing stock. In addition it enables the newcomer to get a view of the many breeds and the variety of quality available even if they don’t buy. Ultimately they can be a valuable asset in the poultry keeping world and it is without doubt that they have contributed to the continuation of certain breeding programmes, aside from expanding the poultry keeping community in the country. That said they are totally self-governing and have to walk a fine and flexible line between providing a service to the seller and protecting the buyer which can leave them exposed to the unscrupulous.
So what can I conclude? An auction, if run correctly, can and does benefit both sellers and buyers, but for this to work then a code of conduct is needed to help Auction houses achieve a standard and give them guidance to work with. This would give both buyers and sellers the confidence that they are attending a quality sale and one which takes into account the most important element of all – the welfare of the poultry.
Without the adoption of some level of standardisation then it will remain with individual auction organisations to work in isolation. Ultimately this will benefit nobody in the end other than those with little care for poultry other than the money it makes them.
Andy Cawthray (known also as ChickenStreet!) lives in North Shropshire; an active environmentalist, experienced practical gardener, avid poultry collector & freelance writer regularly shares his experiences through features in a number of magazines, talks and events.