By Duane Dailey
Out-of-state cattle buyers helped boost the average price to $1,716 for 127 head of Show-Me-Select replacement heifers at the Fruitland Livestock Auction on Dec. 3. Top individual price per heifer was $2,400. Three lots with eight head hit that price. All were from Crooks Farm, Leeton.
The sale in Cape Girardeau County attracts buyers from neighboring states. However, the buyer of the most calves was from Gloster, La. Richardson Farms, which bought Show-Me-Select heifers at the sale last year, took home 32 head.
All heifers were from producers enrolled in the University of Missouri replacement heifer educational program. "The [sale] heifers are from over 700 heifers enrolled at pre-breeding time, last spring," said Roger Eakins, MU Extension livestock specialist, Jackson. Most heifers that qualified for the Show-Me-Select trademark ear tags stayed on their home farms.
Among 13 consignors, top average consignment price from one producer was $2,200 for one heifer from Richard Eggers, Jackson. Other top averages: Second, $2,050 on five heifers from Kasten Beef Alliance, Millersville. Third, $2,045 on 33 head, Crook Farms. Fourth, $1,900 on nine heifers from Turner Farms, Belgrade.
Last month, Crooks Farm sold 49 head of mostly Simmental-cross heifers at the Kingsville SMS Heifer Sale, for an average of $1,904. Crooks Farm has consigned heifers to all 13 sales since the first one, said David Hoffman, MU Extension livestock specialist, Harrisonville. The farm is operated by Alvin and Doug Crooks and Howard Early.
SMS heifers are grouped in lots by type and calving dates. Those bred with artificial insemination (AI) have a specific date. The AI-bred heifers bring premium prices over heifers bred by bulls. At Fruitland, 54% were bred AI and 46% natural service. The AI-bred heifers averaged $1,872, compared to $1,530 for sire-bred heifers, for a premium of $342. AI breeding gives access to bulls with higher accuracy in the EPDs (expected progeny differences) in their genetics.
The Show-Me-Select program emphasizes improved genetics and best management practices. "These heifers have the right nutrition, health care and genetics," Eakins said.
Genetics becomes a strong selling point as premiums paid for Prime and Choice grade beef goes up, Eakins said. Prime-grade carcasses draw premiums topping $45 per hundredweight. That does not include source and age premiums.
Nationally, only 3% of carcasses will grade Prime at U.S. packing plants. However, calves from SMS heifers often run more than 50% Prime. SMS herds often grade 100% Choice or better. The Choice-Select grade spread has increased from a minus $17 to a plus $23 in recent weeks, Eakins added.
Return buyers report that reduced death loss and improved growth bring them back, said David Patterson, MU Extension beef reproduction specialist. Patterson helped the southeast Missouri beef producers organize their first sale in 1998. Both spring and fall sales are now held.
"Three buyers from out of state asked if they could bring heifers back to the sale," Patterson said. "Heifers come from Missouri consignors enrolled in the MU Extension Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer program. However, the sales are run by a private, not-for-profit LLC, organized by sale consignors.
"Now, other states are interested in starting similar programs," he added.
Missouri producers can enroll in January by contacting regional MU Extension livestock specialists.Source: MU Cooperative Media Group