FRUITLAND, MO - A $2,200 price set an all-time state-record average price on 135 head of bred heifers at the Show-Me-Select Replacement sale, Saturday, Dec. 1.

The 14th annual southeastern Missouri fall sale at Fruitland (Mo.) Livestock Auction "broke all the records," said Judy Burton, executive secretary of the nonprofit group sponsoring four sales this fall.

The last sale will be at Palmyra, Mo., Saturday, Dec. 8.

"Repeat buyers made the sale," said Roger Eakins, University of Missouri Extension regional livestock specialist, Jackson, Mo. He managed the sale.

"When buyers see how these heifers work in their herd, they come back. And they bid more."

The MU Show-Me-Select program helps cow-calf herd owners. The program started to improve calving ease. That cuts death loss at calving in herds. Now, the breeding includes both growth and quality-beef genetics, in addition to calving ease.

The top lot, a registered Angus heifer, brought $2,950 for Turner Farms, Belgrade, Mo. The four heifers averaged $2,600, which set a consignment record.

"Those were registered, which brings a little more money," Eakins said. "But those heifers had good EPDs (expected progeny differences) for carcass grade and dollar beef genetics."

The largest consignment, 33 heifers from Crooks Farm, Leeton, Mo., averaged $2,383, second highest. The Crooks had the top consignment at the Kingsville sale the previous week.

Third-highest average-price consignment was $2,350 on two head from Denis Sterner, Millersville, Mo. He is herdsman for Kasten Beef Alliance headed by Mike Kasten of Millersville.

Kasten averaged $2,294, for fourth highest, on eight heifers. Kasten is working off-farm for the first time in his career. He directs the MU Quality Beef by the Numbers program.

Improved genetic quality added to higher average prices, Eakins said. "Many heifers are from herds in the program with six or seven generations of stacked pedigrees. Also, some herds have sent cattle to U.S. Premium Beef and have carcass data on steer mates to the heifers."

Those steer mates' carcasses bring quality-beef premiums.

"Our breeders have a genetic goal," Eakins said. "They are not just selling bred heifers. These heifers meet all of the requirements to add value to the buyers' herds. They can make more money with quality beef."

Some buyers are expanding their herds, Eakins added. The beef cycle indicates higher prices in coming years.

"Our repeat buyers know to look for heifers that were bred in first service by timed AI (artificial insemination)."

Of the 135 head in the sale, 35 heifers were ranked Tier Two, which indicates higher-quality breeding to sires with greater proven accuracy.

"The 19 Tier Two AI bred heifers in the sale averaged $2,511 to bring $406 more than for natural-service non-Tier Two heifers. Buyers pay for quality," Eakins said.

All heifers sold are pregnancy guaranteed for 30 days after the sale. They were pregnancy-checked within 30 days prior to the sale. Veterinarians check the heifers before breeding, for soundness, and within 90 days after breeding, for pregnancies.

On arrival at the sale barn, heifers are checked by USDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture graders. Heifers not meeting standards are sent home.

The heifers wear black-and-gold ear tags with the Show-Me-Select trademark logo. Tier Two heifers wear white tags.

Producers can join SMS to improve their herd genetics by contacting regional livestock specialists at local MU Extension centers.

"We had buyers wanting more," Eakins said.

The next SMS sale offers more than 300 head of crossbred and registered heifers. Sale starts at 12:30 p.m., Dec. 8, at F&T Livestock Auction, Palmyra.