“Repeat buyers made the sale,” said David Patterson of the record-setting prices at the 10th annual Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Sale, Nov. 16, at Joplin Regional Stockyards.

Three top lots sold for $1,800 per heifer, while the sale averaged $1,429 on 191 head.

Patterson, MU Extension beef reproduction specialist, Columbia, Mo., said “Repeat buyers come back because the heifers are performing for them. Proven genetics make better calves, as well as offering calving ease.”

“The average sale price exceeded my expectations by about a hundred dollars,” said Eldon Cole, MU Extension regional livestock specialist and sale coordinator, Mount Vernon, Mo.

Last fall, the top-selling lot, a single heifer, brought $1,425. The previous high average price was $1,414 set in 2004, Cole said.

Ladd Ranches of Sparta, Mo., consigned three top-selling lots that averaged $1,800 per heifer, a record price. Overall the Ladds averaged $1,643 on 44 head. The heifers were Hereford-Angus crossbreds with a touch of Brahman.

Nine consignors sold 51 lots of bred heifers from the Show-Me-Select program. All are enrolled in a year-round management program to improve calving ease and reduce death loss. The heifers are bred to bulls with proven records for calving ease.

Consignors showing heifers in their pens before the sale speculated that improved pastures and plentiful hay would cause spirited bidding. Rains had replenished pond water and produced abundant forage after two years of drought.

“This year, they were bidding for a limited supply of heifers,” Patterson said. “We could have sold another 300 head, easily.” Jackie Moore, auctioneer, was more optimistic. “We could have sold 500 more heifers.” Bidding remained strong to the end of the sale, when a single red heifer brought $1,500 on the last bid of the night.

The sale set a record with bidders paying a premium of $124 for heifers bred by artificial insemination compared to those bred by natural service. “AI breeding offers access to the best proven sires in a breed,” Patterson said.

Ladd, who can tell a story for every occasion, said, “I’m speechless.” He ranches with his wife, Janet, and daughter Amie.

“Buyers of the Ladd heifers were repeat buyers,” Patterson said. “Repeat buyers are a growing trend at the six Show-Me-Select sales across the state. They like what they bought before.”

The MU Extension program teaches management of heifers, which are often difficult to get bred. Improved nutrition for the growing heifers is part of the plan.

Also, veterinarians do pre-breeding exams including pelvic measurement on heifers to ensure they can have a calf. Reproductive tracts are scored for breeding condition before breeding season.

After breeding, heifers are checked twice for pregnancy and are sold guaranteed pregnant. On arrival at the sale barn, heifers are examined for soundness and conformation by graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Friday night, before the auction, Cole introduced Patterson, research technician Dan Busch of Washington, Mo., and MU animal science graduate students Nicole Leitman, Moscow Mills, Mo., and Daniel Mallory, Paris, Mo.

The MU beef AI team was in Southwest Missouri demonstrating fixed-time artificial insemination on cooperating farms. A USDA grant funds the technology-transfer education. A field day will be held in the area next year to show results of breeding all cows in a herd on one day.

The Show-Me-Select heifer program was started as a pilot program in 1996 in the Southwest and Northeast Regions. The program is statewide now.

Five other sales are scheduled. Dates, sale locations, times and Extension specialists are:

  • Nov. 24 - Kingsville, Mo., 11:00 a.m., David Hoffman, Harrisonville, Mo., 816-380-8460
  • Dec. 1 - Fruitland, Mo., 1:00 p.m., Roger Eakins, Jackson, Mo., 573-243-3581
  • Dec. 1 - Green City, Mo., 1:00 p.m., Jim Humphrey, Savannah, Mo., 816-324-3147 and Chris Zumbrunnen, Milan, Mo., 660-265-4541
  • Dec. 8 - Mountain Grove, Mo., 1:00 p.m., Randy Saner, West Plains, Mo., 417-256-2391
  • Dec. 14 - Palmyra, Mo, 6:00 p.m., Al Kennett, New London, Mo., 573-985-3911

Sales are supervised by a statewide board of directors, a private non-for-profit group. Local sales have producer advisory committees. “Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer, Inc.” is copyright protected by the University of Missouri. Heifers enrolled in the program carry a black-and-gold ear tag with the organization logo.

Enrollment details are at http://agebb.missouri.edu/select.