A record-high price of $3,400 for an individual Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer was set at the spring sale at the Fruitland, Mo., Livestock Auction, May 5. The overall average of $2,170 also set a new state sale price average since the sales started in 1997.
In all, 157 heifers sold. All had followed the protocols set for the program by the University of Missouri Extension. Two-thirds of the heifers were bred by artificial insemination. That indicates that top proven high-accuracy sires could be used.
Thirty of the bred heifers sold for $2,500 or more. For the sale, heifers are sorted into matched lots with similar calving dates. All were bred to calve between Aug. 25 and Nov. 29.
“This was the best-looking set of heifers we have ever sold,” said Roger Eakins, sale coordinator and MU Extension regional livestock specialist, Jackson, Mo. “The quality was very deep for both genetics and type. This proves producers will pay the extra dollar for quality.
“The predictability in the genetics of the heifers was deeper than ever. Fifteen percent of the heifers selling had three to four generations of high-accuracy AI sires behind them.”
Most were commercial heifers. However, the two top-selling heifers were registered Angus, both from Lazy P Ranch owned by Greg and Steve Pleimann, Oak Ridge, Mo.
Two consignors who had the largest number of heifers had sold in the first sale at Fruitland, 14 years ago. Kasten Farms sold 32 head. Masters Farms, Cape Girardeau, sold 29 head.
Black dominated the sale, as 95 percent were black or black white-face heifers.
“Our best bidders were producers who purchased Show-Me-Select heifers before,” Eakins said.
The main attraction early in the Show-Me-Select program was the calving-ease genetics added to the breeding program. This reduced death loss of calves and first-calf heifers. Now, other genetics such as marbling and yearling weights are added as well.
Owners of the heifers enroll in a yearlong educational program. All heifers are examined by a veterinarian, before breeding, to determine reproductive tract scores and pelvic areas.
After breeding, they are checked for pregnancy, the last time within 30 days before the sale. All are sold guaranteed to be pregnant for 30 days after the sale.
The heifers are examined by graders of the Missouri Department of Agriculture on arrival at the sale barn. Heifers that had blemishes or did not have proper muscling or condition are sent home.
The quality keeps going up, as producers stay in the program and build herds of cows that have been through the Show-Me-Select program.
Almost a quarter of the heifers sold were classified Tier Two. The heifers are sired by high-accuracy AI sires with large numbers of progeny in production. These heifers should perform more predictably for the five traits that distinguish heifers as Tier Two replacements.
Saturday, the Tier Two AI heifers brought a bonus of $134 above the Tier One AI heifers.
All SMS heifers carry black and gold ear tags with the trademark logo. Tier Two heifers have white tags.
Fruitland has held spring and fall sales since 1998. Spring-calving heifers will sell in December.
Near the end of the sale, Patterson told the crowd that more producers should enroll heifers in the program. “There is a shortage of good heifers. The price will go up as drought areas in Texas and Oklahoma recover. Ranchers will come here looking for replacement heifers.
“Missouri can supply quality heifers they need.”