It is becoming more difficult to get new auctioneers to join the industry, especially young ones who are willing to put in the work. This is according to Allan Sinclair, auctioneer and manager of Vleissentraal Bloemfontein. In an interview last year on Plaas TV/Farm TV, Allan added that it is also becoming more important for young and aspiring auctioneers to know which qualities make for a seasoned auctioneer.

In a bid to shed some light on these issues, Stockfarm recently spoke to Allan and Barco van Niekerk, a freelance auctioneer and former winner of the Toyota SA National Young Auctioneer Competition, about the key qualities they deem most vital in a top auctioneer.

It is firstly important to distinguish between a livestock auctioneer and other auctioneers. A livestock auctioneer, for the most part, is characterised by his or her knowledge of the products being auctioned. Allan and Barco agree that this knowledge should extend beyond merely livestock and should include agricultural knowledge as a whole. The auctioneer should also have a good rapport with producers.

Characteristics and traits

The success of an auctioneer is determined by several characteristics. Barco believes energy, people knowledge, skills and character play a decisive role.

Allan supports this statement, saying that there are a few key qualities that elevate a particular individual above the rest. It starts with a willingness to work hard – an auctioneer must start at the bottom and work his or her way up the ladder. The ability to work in a team, be well prepared, and close the auction properly after business has been concluded, all ensure customer satisfaction.

Self-confidence in his or her abilities, as well as the ability to handle different situations, also make a world of difference during auction proceedings. A strong and engaging personality, voice and rhythm are sought-after qualities that can stand an individual in good stead in his or her way to the top. A positive attitude, underscores Allan, is the best trait an auctioneer can have in his or her repertoire.

Voice, clarity and rhythm

An auctioneer’s voice, of course, is central to an auction and controlling one’s voice is a prerequisite for a successful auction result and participation. Tone of voice and intonation are used to keep the audience’s attention. Allan and Barco both believe that an auctioneer’s chant can determine the success of an auction. Clarity is as crucial, as it prevents misunderstandings.

Good breathing and rhythm are equally important as it promotes clarity, making it easier for the auctioneer to auction the lots. The enthusiasm in the individual’s voice can persuade a potential buyer to make the purchase, confident that he or she has bought the best lot of the day.

Knowledge of the industry

Barco says an auctioneer’s knowledge of the industry is ultimately just as important as his or her personality and voice, and that this experience is gained throughout his or her career. Allan adds that auctioneers should have a thorough understanding of the livestock industry’s economic value. Industry knowledge thus involves in-depth knowledge of market prices and the factors influencing them, such as weather patterns, nutrition, exports, seasons and the like. They also need to be familiar with different types of livestock and classification systems.

When it comes to stud cattle, he says auctioneers need to be aware of breeding policies, breeding and breed standards, as well as production values and their significance.

Knowledge of legislation

Knowledge of relevant legislation plays a significant role. Here, Allan refers specifically to the Consumer Protection Act, 2008 (Act 68 of 2008) and the Stock Theft Act, 1959 (Act 57 of 1959).

The Consumer Protection Act makes it clear that auctioneers may only accept a bid from a bidder who obtained a buyer number during registration at the auction. The Stock Theft Act stipulates that the livestock presented at an auction must comply with the regulations set out in the Act. Among other things, it refers to the branding or tattoos that animals must have.

Young and aspiring auctioneers can take Allan and Barco’s advice to heart while advancing in their careers. A passion for agriculture, a good attitude, broad industry knowledge and a trained voice are a must for auctioneers who want to reach the top.

“When looking at any of the top auctioneers in action on the rostrum,” Allan concludes, “nothing but pleasure should be visible on their faces.” – Deidre Louw, Stockfarm

For more information on the entries of the 2021 Toyota SA National Young Auctioneer Competition, send an email to