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Show-Me-Select heifers set record price

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Missouri

The highest average price of four fall sales reached $2,012 for Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers at F&T Livestock Auction, Dec. 10.

"Over a half-million dollars' worth of bred heifers changed hands in less than two hours," said Al Kennett, sale manager and University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, New London, Mo.

The 22 producers of the 255 heifers were enrolled in the MU educational heifer management program. The heifers were bred to sires with both calving-ease and growth genetics. The sale average was $327 higher than the sale the previous week at Fruitland, Mo., which had been previous high this year. The Palmyra top lot average was $2,450.

Highest average price from one consignor was $2,227 for 11 head from Keithley/Jackson Farms, Frankford, Mo. Other above-average consignors were Jim and Sharon Schlager, Canton, Mo., $2,173 on 11 head; Prairie View Farms, Greg Drebes, Monroe City, Mo., $2,165 on 34 head; Gene and Kim Dryden, Hannibal, Mo., $2,160 on 10 head.

"The sale offered heifers of uniform quality, beginning to end," said John Browning, sale barn co-owner and ring man. "Quality raised the average. These higher prices are in line with what stocker calves sell for. This week six-weight calves brought $970."

David Patterson, MU Extension livestock specialist, Columbia, said several producers reported above-average pregnancy failures in cow herds this summer. "Producers needed more replacements than usual. Hot weather at breeding time may have caused failures to breed."

Averages of other Show-Me-Select sales were Joplin, $1,433; Kingsville, $1,670; and Fruitland, $1,716, The Show-Me-Select program started in 1997 in Palmyra and Joplin. The 15th annual sale in northeast Missouri topped all previous sales across the state in all years. The program spread statewide.

Over time, better methods of artificial insemination were introduced based on research at the MU Thompson Farm, Spickard. All cows in a herd can be bred on one day. This reduces breeding labor and improves uniformity of calf crops, Patterson said.

By using AI, breeders get high-accuracy proven sires.

Initially, breeding aimed for calving ease to reduce death loss. Now the sale catalog shows expected progeny differences for other traits also. Those include weaning weight, yearling weight and maternal milk.

Buyers have learned that value of the sale comes from data on the expected calves. Prior to the sale heifers are on view, sorted by lots, in the back of the barn. Most consignors give handouts with pedigrees and genetics.

About 70 percent of the heifers in the sale were synchronized and bred AI this year, Kennett said. That allows buyers to have more accurate calving dates.

Before the sale, Kennett advised buyers to check heifers starting two weeks ahead of the printed calving date. "Calving ease brings early calves," he said. Most heifers will calve in February and March.

All heifers are guaranteed to be pregnant for 30 days. They were pregnancy checked twice. The first was within 90 days after breeding to determine calving date. The second check occurred within 30 days of the sale.

All heifers are viewed on arrival at the barn by graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Any heifers not meeting standards, lame or blemished are sent home.

The sales are a small part of the Show-Me-Select program. Most heifers go back into their home herds. Surplus heifers are sold at the value-added auction.

Sales are organized by a private not-for-profit group organized by the producers.

"In the last 15 years in northeast Missouri, about 25,000 heifers have been through the program," Kennett said. Only 4,200 of those were sold in the Palmyra auction. Many producers sell heifers directly to other producers. All heifers sold are certified by the trademarked black-and-gold SMS ear tag.

Kim Dryden, consignor from Hannibal, said, "The sale lets us compare our heifers to those from other producers. It helps us improve."

Herd owners can join the program by visiting their local MU Extension livestock specialist.

"With the beef price outlook, we expected to see several new producers," Patterson said. "Several producers have been in the program from the beginning. They improved their herds, built reputations and top the sales."

"Satisfied buyers who return to buy more heifers help the sale prices the most," he added.

Kennett checked on the sales. "I added up and 178 head, 70 percent, were purchased by repeat buyers. There were 45 buyers in all."



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