CARTHAGE, Mo. - Bidding was sluggish at the first of four fall sales of Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers where 245 bred heifers averaged $1,433 per head, Nov. 18.
"I expected higher prices," said Eldon Cole, regional livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, Mount Vernon, Mo. "In a sale like this, the buyers are happy and sellers not so happy, but extension works with both, so each sale is a good one."
This was the 25th sale in the southwest region, Cole told the crowd at Joplin Regional Stockyards. Cooperating cattle producers hold both fall and spring sales for pregnancy-guaranteed heifers bred to proven calving-ease sires.
Before the sale, auctioneer Jackie Moore said, "Heifers will be a lot more expensive next year." The U.S. cattle herd has undergone downsizing as drought continues to reduce pastures in southwestern states.
"I expected prices to be at least $200 higher," said David Patterson, MU Extension beef reproduction specialist. Patterson helped producers create the first Joplin sale in 1997, along with the other pilot sale in Palmyra, Mo. The program is now statewide.
Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers is a yearlong educational program to improve calving ease, reduce death loss and improve genetics of beef herds in the state. The sales are a part of the program, which aims to improve home-farm cow herds first. Heifer sales are a value-added income source.
Observers speculated that drought in southwest Missouri last summer left producers with low reserves of hay and worries about feeding for cows they already own. Many producers with hay had sold earlier to ranchers in Oklahoma and Texas.
Mark Harmon, manager at Joplin Regional Stockyards, said, "Good rains late in the season improved fall pastures. Those who put on nitrogen fertilizer when it started to rain have good fall growth." Stockpiled fescue pastures can be grazed in the winter.
The top-selling lot, a pen of four Angus-crossbred heifers consigned by Kleiboeker Farms, Wentworth, Mo., sold for an average of $1,850. All had been bred by artificial insemination. The Kleiboekers consigned heifers in the first sale.
The second-highest lot was four head averaging $1,750 from Ladd Ranch, Sparta, Mo. The heifers were Hereford-Angus-Brahman crossbreds.
From the auction block, Cole pointed out that John and Janet Massey of Aurora, Mo., have consigned heifers to each of the 25 Show-Me-Select sales held in southwest Missouri.
The consignor with overall top average of $1,550 was Sam Schaumann, Billings, Mo. The heifers were Red Angus-Simmental crossbreds.
The second-highest consignor average was $1,538 from Kleiboeker Farms.
All heifers in the program wear a Show-Me-Select ear tag that is trademark-protected.
The heifers were pregnancy checked before the sale and guaranteed bred for 30 days. The program follows protocols to assure calving ease. Each lot comes with a projected calving date. Buyers are advised to watch the heifers about two weeks ahead of that date, as first-calf heifers bred to calving-ease sires tend to calve early.
The heifers are checked on arrival at the sale barn by graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture to assure compliance on frame score and muscling, and to check for lameness or blemishes.
Heifer sales will be held the next three Saturdays: Kingsville, Nov. 26; Fruitland, Dec. 3; and Palmyra, Dec. 10. Details are available from local MU Extension regional livestock specialists. Catalogs with genetic information are available at the sale barns on sale day.
Consignor data is on the MU AgEBB website at http://agebb.missouri.edu/select/sales/sales.htm.