As It Happens

He's already a Canadian champ. Now this 24-year-old has his sights set on the world livestock auctioneer title

Ontario's Ab Carroll tells As It Happens that the keys to being an effective auctioneer are clarity of voice, speed and rhythm.

Ab Carroll's 2018 success at Canadian livestock auctioneer contest made him one of the youngest winners ever

24-year-old Ab Carroll competes in livestock auctioneer competitions. (Livestock Markets Assoc. of Canada)


Ab Carroll remembers the moment that made him want to become an auctioneer. 

He was 14, at an event organized by a not-for-profit. They had a local auctioneer come in to sell pies. 

"It was something so simple, these pies that these kids had made, and [the auctioneer] really turned it into a fun, exciting time," Carroll, 24, told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

After that day, the Ontario man began practicing and perfecting his auction chant. He would go on to attend the World Wide College of Auctioneering in Denver, Colo., and in 2018 won the Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Championship. 

Now, Carroll has his sights set on a bigger title, as first reported by the Toronto Star. On Wednesday, he'll be at a qualifying event in Yankton, S.D., with hopes of competing at the world championships. 

The keys to auctioneering 

For the last few years, Carroll has been selling livestock at the Ontario Stockyards in Cookstown, Ont., north of Toronto.  

He says the keys to being an effective auctioneer are clarity of voice, speed and rhythm.

"The reason the auction works so well is because we're able to take a large volume of product, bring it to one location, and sell it through the competitive bidding process to a number of buyers in a quick, timely manner," he explained.  

"If we're selling 10, 15 lambs or sheep or cattle every 25 to 30 seconds, well, we can move a lot of product in a hurry. And the auction — that rapid fire chant, that quick talking — creates a sense of urgency which is then transferred to the buyers, making them want to bid."

In his interview with As It Happens, Carroll gave an example of how he might sell some lambs:  

"Everything we're saying is a real word — sped up," Carroll said. "They're all numbers and filler words put together just in a high-speed sort of mishmash there." 

Practice makes perfect 

When Carroll won the Canadian Livestock Auctioneer Championship in 2018, he became one of the youngest people ever to hold the title, says event chairman Rick Wright. 

Wright says the event, which is in its 23rd year this year, draws people from across the country. Last year, there were 45 competitors — making it the biggest year yet. Auctioneers came from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, and ranged in age from 18 to 61.  

Now that Carroll is heading to the qualifying event in South Dakota, he is doing all he can to prepare. Every day, he goes online to study what product is worth in that state, he said.

"If you're comfortable with the value of the product you're selling, that's going to come through in your comfortability behind the microphone," he said.

When he's not working at the Ontario Stockyards, he helps out at his family farm. 

"I spend a lot of time practicing in the car, practicing in the tractor. When I'm feeding cows, or when I'm doing whatever around home, I find myself quite often auctioning fence posts or auctioning off the cows. It's just kind of what I do."

Selling the world's largest cabbage 

To see if he could really sell anything, As It Happens challenged Carroll to auction off the world's biggest cabbage featured in the famous 1976 interview by the show's former host Barbara Frum. 

Listen to Carroll sell that vegetable for $2,400:

Written by Katie Geleff. Interview with Ab Carroll produced by Morgan Passi. 


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