Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers averaged $1,891 recently at Fruitland. It was the second of four spring sales.

This price topped last year by $100, said Erin Larimore, sale coordinator and University of Missouri Extension regional specialist, Jackson.

The 117 heifers came from 16 herd owners in the MU program that improves beef herd replacements.

The heifers, sold guaranteed pregnant, carry calves with genetics from proven sires. In addition, heifer management improves calving ease and cuts death loss.

Top individual price was $3,900 for an Angus heifer from Turner Farms, Belgrade. It was one of five registered heifers, all sale toppers, averaging $3,230. Highest price for other consignors was $2,750 for one of 11 heifers from Glen Birk, Jackson.

Both heifers sold to Harold Bilek, Millersville. It was his 41st sale. “I hope it’s not my last,” he said.

The auction at SEMO Livestock Sales, Fruitland, was moved from Saturday afternoon to Friday night. “We had a tremendous crowd,” Larimore said. “Of 86 registered bidders, 34 took heifers home.”

At the first sale of the season, at Farmington, the average price hit $1,737. That new sale is still building reputations while Fruitland started more than 20 years ago.

“Repeat buyers make a sale,” said Dave Patterson, MU Extension specialist. “When they come back, they know what they are buying.” He developed the management protocols for the sales.

A catalog printed day of sale tells genetic data on the proven sires used.

Long-term consignors provide stacked genetics. Also, more consignors use fixed-time artificial insemination. All heifers can be bred in one morning. That gives more precise calving dates to buyers. Timed breeding also gives shorter calving seasons. Dates are shown in the catalog.

Benefits now include more than calving ease. Carcass quality genes improve in offspring. Many long-term consignors retain ownership of steermates to feed out. Most reach more than 70 percent USDA prime grade carcasses. Those sell for premium prices.

Heifer buyers pay more for better genetics. Tier Two heifers bred AI sold for $220 over Tier One bull-bred.

Sex of fetal calves is listed for buyers. They learn on most lots whether they get a bull, heifer or a surprise. Ultrasound preg checks don’t always tell sex.

The sale drew bidders from Illinois and Indiana. They took 50 head out of state, Larimore said. Anyone can buy at the sales, but only Missouri farmers join Show-Me-Select. Herd owners enroll through MU Extension regional livestock specialists. It’s a yearlong program.

Only enrolled heifers wear the black-and-gold trademarked ear tag.

Heifers are checked on arrival at sales for confirmation by Missouri Department of Agriculture graders.

AI breeding research and heifer management plans come from MU Thompson Farm, Spickard. Research on sexed semen continues there. That’s part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

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