Show-Me-Select heifers average $1,204 at Palmyra, Mo.
Beef herd owners bought 151 heifers at an average price of $1,204 at the Northeast Missouri Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer sale, Dec. 13.
Two lots, with a total of seven heifers, averaged $1,500 to top the sale.
"Bidders were slow to start, but at the end of the sale bidding was strong. The sale ended the season on a positive note," said Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef specialist. The sale at the F&T Livestock Market, Palmyra, was the last of five fall sales of spring-calving replacement heifers.
Top-selling consignor was Keithley/Jackson Farms, Frankford, Mo., which sold 18 heifers at an average of $1,433.
Prairie View Farms, Monroe City, Mo., sold 24 head at an average of $1,344 for second-highest.
McCutchan Angus, Monticello, Mo., was third-highest, averaging $1,337 on 10 head.
Six of the 14 consignors have been in the Show-Me-Select sale since the beginning, said Al Kennett, MU Extension livestock specialist, New London, Mo.
"The sale demonstrates that reputation cattle will bring a good price even in tough economic times," Kennett said.
Top buyer was Jeff Kellogg, Madison, Mo., with 18 heifers at an average price of $1,371.
Gary Fesler, Null, Ill., was second-highest buyer with nine heifers at $1,443 average price, all from Keithley/Jackson Farms.
The fall sales offer heifers that will calve this spring. Another sale this spring will offer fall-calving heifers.
All heifers have met rigorous standards on management and breeding to assure calving ease and performance genetics, Kennett said.
Veterinarians check heifers before the breeding season to assure they are ready to breed. All are bred to bulls with high scores on calving ease.
Veterinarians give reproductive tract scores and measurements of the pelvic openings. This helps assure that heifers will conceive and deliver live calves.
Finally, all heifers are checked for pregnancy twice, once within 30 days of the sale. Consignors guarantee the heifers to be with calf at time of the sale and for 30 days after.
Graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture examine all heifers on arrival at the sale barn to assure they meet program standards and body condition scores.
Heifers in sale lots are grouped to calve within a two-week period, Kennett said. "Surveys show that about 90 percent of heifers sold in the last four sales calved within that two-week window."
The combination of calving ease and short calving period makes the heifers popular with repeat buyers. A catalog printed on sale day provides genetic and management details on the heifers.
Show-Me-Select management helps assure trouble-free calving. "It's impossible to guarantee calving ease, as some calves will be born backward or otherwise need assistance," Kennett said. "Heifers must be watched at calving time."
"On a national average, first-calf heifers require assistance 22 percent of the time," Kennett said. "The larger cost is deaths resulting from difficulties in 8 to 10 percent of the heifers. We are pleased with our results and are working to improve."
Increasingly, heifers are synchronized and bred with artificial insemination. AI allows the use of the highest-accuracy proven bulls in a breed.
Herd owners can join the management program by contacting their MU Extension regional livestock specialist. Registration is open in January.