Heifer Sales Help Owners Build Herds

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Beef producers in Missouri are rebuilding their herds with the help of programs like Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers.
By: Duane Dailey, University of Missouri Extension

Beef herd owners rebuilding cow numbers have two sales this spring to buy Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers.

Sales will be May 3 at the Fruitland (Mo.) Livestock Auction and May 16 at Joplin Regional Stockyards.

Owners of the bred heifers to be sold are enrolled in a University of Missouri educational program. Show-Me-Select assures quality genetics and management. The heifers are sold guaranteed bred.

With U.S. cow numbers at their lowest in decades and fed cattle prices setting records, the sales draw attention.

"Everyone asks, 'How high will they go?'" says Eldon Cole, MU Extension livestock specialist, Mount Vernon, and coordinator of the Joplin sale.

Roger Eakins, regional specialist, Jackson, Mo., says, "This is the best-looking set of heifers we've ever had. They came through a rough winter and are looking good."

The southwestern Missouri sale offers 265 head. The southeastern sale offers 143.

Eakins said several consignors decided to keep heifers rather than sell.

Heifers at the spring sales are bred to join fall-calving herds.

Increasingly, heifers are bred by timed artificial insemination. With AI carried out on a given day, predicted calving dates can be more precise. Buyers learned to appreciate the short calving season.

Breeding AI also allows use of the best proven sires in the breed.

Eakins says about 70 percent of heifers in the Fruitland sale will be AI bred. Also, 43 head will carry Tier Two ear tags. That shows those heifers are results of AI breeding, bred to AI bulls.

Past sales have shown highest premiums for Tier Two breeding.

A catalog issued on sale day gives genetic and management background on the heifers. The data adds value to the heifers.

Cole feels confident about buyers recognizing that value. "We're surely going to beat the November 2013 average of $2,127."

Both sale managers commented on the record-setting prices for fed cattle.

"A tempering factor will be the late spring and slow pasture growth," Cole said.

However, a dry winter was replaced by rains across the state in recent days. The April 17 U.S. Drought Monitor shows drought-free areas over most of the state after weeks of dry to drought reports.

Eakins came back in praise of the heifers for sale. "Overall, they look like they will make cows. I don't know what it is, but the heifers look like cows."

All heifers in the Show-Me-Select sales are pregnancy-checked twice.

USDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture graders evaluate the heifers on arrival at the sale barn. Those not meeting standards are sent home.

Only heifers carrying black and gold SMS trademark logo ear tags can be sold as Show-Me-Select heifers.

Producers interested in joining the educational program should contact an MU Extension livestock specialist.

Details are at agebb.missouri.edu/select.


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