5 Tips for Purchasing Livestock


No matter what specie of livestock interests you, it is important to be educated on what you are purchasing. I am not going to say that I know everything, but as the co-owner of Knapp Cattle, here are a few of my suggestions when making buying decisions.

1.Keep Them Sound

Before any success in the pasture, farrowing crate, or the show ring livestock must have the ability to move. What is sound, exactly? There is not a concrete definition, but here is my breakdown. For example, it is important to study angles up front, spine, length of hip, and set to their hind leg. All structural integrity starts at the ground with the foot quality and shape. It is critically important for livestock to be right in their angles, smooth in their joints, and to be good footed in order to hold together, to reach their endpoint and appropriate mature weight.


Mallory Espenscheid’s 2nd place sheep at Iowa State Fair and multiple time jackpot winner, sold by Knapp Livestock.

2.Keep Them Genuine

Genuine livestock have natural skeletal width underneath, and that facilitates for the right kind of shape and volume from there up. Livestock that combine true width with a bold shape to their rib, you will notice, have the ability to truly proportion. Keeping livestock genuine significantly improves long-term ability to be productive and grow, while maintaining balance and proportionality. Buying livestock that are not genuine, will garner you backward progress in reaching an endpoint.


Reserve Grand Champion Steer at the Minnesota Junior Spring Classic.

3.Study Pedigrees 

Studying lineage may be one of the most critical factors in selecting livestock. As a buyer, knowing pedigrees should instill confidence and predictability in your purchase. Genetics will generally prevail within a maturity curve, even though livestock may look good on the day of purchase, expect genetics to take over. When you study livestock, and keep pedigree and linage a true priority, the odds should end in your favor.


Reserve Grand Champion Steer at the 2015 Nebraska State Fair, sold by Knapp Cattle.

4.Set a Goal

Knowing your goal and endpoint must be a priority before making a purchase. For purchasing show livestock, you must have an endpoint show in mind where your animal will be 12 o’clock. Now, we all enjoy showing our livestock at jackpots on the weekends, but it is important that you are cautious in terms of management, to not hinder your endpoint goal. I would recommend having checkpoints throughout the show season to ensure that your livestock are on the appropriate maturity curve to meet your goal.


Champion Maine Anjou Heifer at the 2016 World Beef Expo, sold by Knapp Cattle.

5.Understand Maturity

Speaking of maturity, what is it exactly? My interpretation of maturity is the skeletal size, relative to the fat and muscle deposition at a certain point in an animals growth curve. Age plays a major role in the maturity curve of livestock. You must ensure that you are purchasing livestock that are the right age, and frame size relative to mass when considering your endpoint. Obviously, age and maturity will differ depending on your endpoint, but it is critically important for show and production success.


Reserve Champion Barrow 2015 Beast of the East Show, shown by Kade Knapp.

Written by: Kade Knapp


Hello everyone! My name is Kade Knapp, I am currently a Senior at Western Illinois University studying Agricultural Business with a minor in Animal Science. I grew up on an acreage in the small town of Stanwood, Iowa, raising and trading show heifers and steers to families that exhibit on a local,  state, and national level. Being a co-owner for Knapp Cattle has developed my most genuine passion for the livestock industry. I enjoy working with youth, and studying how livestock mature differently throughout the show season. Thank you for visiting the Western Illinois University School of Agriculture Blog, be sure to scroll through some of my peers posts too!


2 thoughts on “5 Tips for Purchasing Livestock

  1. nielsenm

    I really enjoyed reading the blog, it was well broken down and easy to follow. I now have a better understanding of what to take into consideration when looking at livestock and can make a better decision if I want to purchase livestock in the future. I do agree with you on the genetics that an animal may appear well suited, but follow the genetics rather than appearance. Overall great job, I had no problems with reading through it.


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