5 Tips for Marketing and Photographing Livestock

This time of year is a very exciting season for livestock producers.  Breeding decisions that were made months ago are finally paying off.  With that excitement comes possibly the most challenging portion.  Marketing and photoing.  Many people dread this activity, but when properly utilized it can be the difference in selling them high or sending them to the sale barn.

  1. Brand Management –  This is something that starts long before breeding season. Building a brand can be challenging.  Adam Crouch, a marketing specialist for Sunglo Feeds, had a few tips and tricks for branding.  He said that you should always make sure that your brand matches who you are marketing to. This means that it should be appealing and professional. At the same time, if you are marketing livestock make sure the color scheme and design will match what livestock producers want.  Your brand should be clean, easy to identify and have a clear message.  For example, check out how Sunglo has branded their products.sunglo
  2. Promotion – This step is all about establishing your brand.  Crouch went on to say that it is important to put your brand everywhere. Sweatshirts, hats, t-shirts, signs, and profile pictures are all great places to advertise.  People are constantly wearing clothes so utilize them as walking billboards.
  3. Preparation – This is a bit more of the brass tacks of marketing and picturing.  Across species this step will often vary.  Regardless, it is important to train your livestock so that it is not a foreign concept for them to be prepared to take an incredible picture.  This includes washing and making sure skin and hair are near show day ready.  You can use sweets to make sure pigs are familiar with tools you will use to picture.  Ben Bobell of Bobell Farms suggest washing at least every other day and hanging towels with marshmallow cream so pigs are used to chewing on things that you could use to picture.  With sheep it is important that they are trained to brace and drive and that their legs are blown out and well groomed.
  4. Picturing – The day everyone dreads is here!!!  Time to picture livestock, some people believe that this is the worst part of selling livestock.  A recent alum, David Korb, went as far to say that his “personal sanity and safety could be harmed through picturing pigs.”  The fact that animals aren’t always cooperative, and the patience it takes to get the livestock looking their best are what makes this activity so despicable.  That being said, with the right preparation, this day can go rather smoothly.  According to James Thompson, a WIU alum who now owns Thompson Livestock, “Lighting is the most important aspect of livestock photography.”  Setting up an appropriate background and getting the right lighting can take your livestock photography from zero to hero.  Thompson went on to say that natural lighting is best but you can ruin good pictures by having too much sunlight or too overcast of sky.  Angles also play a key role.  In pictures, livestock often look flat and narrow from a direct side profile.  If you can picture at a slight 3/4 angle,  you will maximize your customers ability to read the livestock.  Picturing can be a long tiring process, but with the right preparation you can make the process a snap.
    A sheep that sold in Thompson Livestock’s Spring sale last March. You can see an attractive background, yet the angle still allows you to read the sheep.  This wether went on to be a class winner at the Iowa State Fair.

    Here’s a picture of a Yorkshire barrow that was taken at Bobell Farms.  He is clean, well presented, and the picture was taken at an angle that allows the viewer to see the pig has shape and dimension.
  5. Sharing – This is the last step but it may be the most important.  Taking pictures is awesome, but if no one see’s them they are useless.  Promote. Promote. Promote.  Put the pictures on Facebook.  Share. Share. Share. Make entertaining write-ups that people want to read.  Take pictures and put them out the interweb so people want to come look at your livestock!!

While these are not in a particular order for how they should go, they are essential steps in insuring that people know about the livestock that you will be marketing.  It is important to be honest and make sure to use your resources to develop these activities!

Will Taylor is student at Western Illinois University.  He is active in the Hoof ‘n’ Club, a member of the Livestock Judging Team, and enjoys working at the school farm.

To learn more about Western Illinois University and the livestock brand that we are building, check out our Facebook page. Leatherneck Livestock.



5 thoughts on “5 Tips for Marketing and Photographing Livestock

  1. micknelson94

    As an individual that has no experience with livestock, I found this very interesting. While a many of the concepts were foreign to me, I think it is interesting how some concepts are consistent in all fields. In our sales course (which is pretty generic, not focusing on ag necessarily) we are always reminded the importance of branding and promotion. Very interesting read.


  2. mroconnor13

    I really thought you made some very valid points here in your blog Will. This is something I can really relate to and have some of these things myself this year with all the different types of marketing and such.


  3. swoodrow1151

    Interesting take on the process of marketing livestock. It seems to that this sounds like it takes a lot of time and energy. Would you go about this in a similar if you were to market lots of 10 plus calves per say or not, to sell at like an auction?


  4. oliviaclaire9514

    I think you really hit on the main parts of marketing and photoing livestock, especially the part on how challenging and dreaded the actual picture day is. The key to succeeding in the show livestock industry, is making sure to promote, advertise, and market. This article would be great for someone just getting started and looking for advice!


  5. aheffelfinger23

    I will use these 5 tips for marketing and photographing livestock like they are going out of business!! Thank you for the awesome advice Will!


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