In the first fall sale, 181 Show-Me-Select (SMS) bred heifers sold for an average $1,974 at Joplin Regional Stockyards. That was a record high, topping the average of $1,433 last fall.
In spite of dry weather in the growing season and short hay supplies in southwestern Missouri, bidding stayed vigorous for top lots.
The top lot of the evening averaged $2,550 for two Angus crossbred heifers. The buyer was Nolan Koehn, Versailles. The consignor, J.W. Henson, Conway, also received top average of $2,321 on 20 head of Angus and Angus-cross heifers. He was a first-time participant in the popular heifer development program.
John Wheeler, of Marionville, a long-time consignor, sold 42 head for $2,182 average for second-highest average. They were Angus-Hereford crossbred heifers. His top lot went for $2,400 average on nine head of AI-bred heifers. The heifers were claimed by Felix Wright, Carthage.
The volume buyer was Brett Harkrader, Appleton City who took home 28 heifers for an average price of $1943. This was the sixth straight sale in which he's bought SMS heifers. Sixty percent of the buyers had made purchases previously at the southwest Missouri sale.
Over time, bidders have paid a $100 premium for heifers bred by artificial insemination (AI) over heifers bred natural-service. In the Joplin sale, AI-bred heifers averaged a premium of $164 per head for an average of $2,079, topping $1,915 for bull-bred heifers.
"The AI sires carry more highly proven genetics," said Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef reproduction specialist. "In addition, heifers bred with fixed-time AI, when all are bred on the same day, offer a shorter calving season next spring. In their evaluations, buyers consistently rate the short calving season high."
Last fall, bidding at Joplin was slow because of drought. The top lot in that sale averaged $1,850, said Judy Burton, executive secretary of the statewide Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers, Inc. The group is a nonprofit corporation with board members from sale consignors.
The program started as an MU Extension pilot project, with the first sale at Joplin in 1997. This was the 27th sale, said Eldon Cole, a regional livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Mount Vernon, Mo.
The fall sale offers heifers bred to calve next spring. The spring sale sells fall-calving heifers.
Consignors of replacement heifers are enrolled in a year-round educational program led by MU Extension regional livestock specialists. Veterinarians examine the heifers before breeding season. They check for pregnancy 90 days after breeding and again within 30 days of the sale.
Consignors guarantee SMS heifers to be bred and to remain so for 30 days past the sale.
On arrival at the sale barn, heifers are checked by USDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture graders. Those not meeting standards are sent home. More heifers than usual were sent home because of low body-condition scores. With poorer pastures and less feed, some did not maintain body weight.
"The sale average would have been much higher if all heifers had been in higher body condition," Patterson said. "The heifers in this sale definitely showed the effects of the dry weather and limited feed supply. As a result, the body condition scores were roughly one score lower than in past sales."
The one score translates into 70 or 80 pounds lighter sale weight than heifers from the same herds in previous sales. Cole said buyers must feed their heifers and watch them closely this winter so they do not lose more weight.
For more information on this program, contact MU Extension livestock specialist Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon at (417) 466-3102