In the first sale of the season, 116 Show-Me-Select replacement bred heifers averaged $1,737 at Farmington Regional Stockyards. Top price was $2,300.
“Buyers were cautious about bidding with grass just coming on,” said Kendra Graham, sale coordinator and regional livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“However, quality AI-bred heifers are in high demand,” she said.
All heifers meet rigid standards in management and genetics taught in the yearlong MU Extension educational program.
Top price of $2,300 and highest average price of $2,030 went to Turner Farms, Belgrade. The five registered Angus from Turner Farms were all artificially inseminated.
Dean and Dallas Wilson, Dittmer, had second-highest average of $1,865 on 13 heifers. Their high was $1,900.
Third-highest average went to David Gann, Steelville. That was $1,818 on eight head, all AI. His high was $2,150.
The Farmington sale is the newest of four spring sales of fall-calving heifers. “The sale continues to draw new buyers and new consignors,” Graham said. “There are few programs that provide detailed health and breeding data.”
A sale-day catalog gives information, including expected calving dates. With fixed-time AI, all heifers are bred on the same day. Calving times can be more accurately predicted.
Repeat buyers like calving-ease genetics and management, says Dave Patterson, MU Extension state beef reproduction specialist. Longtime consignors tend to gain higher average prices.
More calves in the sales over time come from multigeneration SMS breeding. In this sale, Tier II AI-bred heifers brought an average premium of $110 over Tier I bull-bred heifers. Tier II heifers are bred to proven sires and are out of proven sires.
Buyers soon learn the value of AI genetics. With AI, breeders gain access to top genetics in a breed. Even small herds can use top sires.
Farmington sale heifers were all black or black whiteface, Graham said.
In addition to advanced genetics, SMS heifers receive intensive prebreeding management. When a veterinarian tract-scores heifers, those that can’t breed are culled. That boosts calving rates.
Also, pelvic measurements prior to breeding allow culling heifers that cannot have calving ease. Calving-ease trait is a favorite of farmers and vets. Few calves must be pulled, which cuts death losses of calves and heifers.
Promotions for the sales tell that buyers are buying not only heifers but also valuable data.
Heifer program details are at agebb.missouri.edu/select.
Protocols for Show-Me-Select heifers are from research at the MU Thompson Farm, Spickard. It is part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Columbia.