“Calves from these heifers will be worth a lot next year,” the auctioneer told bidders at the Show-Me-Select replacement heifer sale, Saturday, Nov. 29, at Kingsville Livestock Auction.

The 298 heifers averaged $2,769. That was a record for the sale, but below what observers were expecting.

“Feeder calf and fed cattle prices set new records almost every week,” said David Hoffman, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist.

“Our consignors are very happy.”

Hoffman worked with area producers on the 16th annual fall sale.

Crooks Farm, Leeton, sold the top-selling lot in the sale at $3,750 and made the top average on 25 Simmental cross heifers at $3,408. Crooks Farm has been in the program from the beginning, 16 years ago.

Two breeders tied for second-place average price at $3,000. Springhaven Farms, Belton, sold 12 registered Angus. Jonathan Renfro, Richmond, sold five Angus cross heifers.

Fourth-high average was $2,917 for Lane Donnohue, Appleton City. “He’s getting started in the cattle business with three red baldy heifers,” Hoffman said.

Fifth-high at $2,828 was Dreamland Ranch, Drexel, selling eight Angus cross heifers.

Bob and Alex Nuelle, Higginsville, sold 74 head in 19 lots. They took home the top total for their consignments. They’ve bred SMS heifers for 14 years.

“Repeat buyers make the difference in sale averages,” Hoffman said. “They bid up to $200 more. They know what they are buying.”

All buyers for Crooks Farm heifers were repeat buyers, as were buyers for John Wheeler, Marionville, who sold 27 Angus cross heifers that averaged $2,771.

Auctioneer Jeremy Anstine reminded bidders for the heifers what feeder steers were bringing, but that didn’t inspire more spirited bidding.

Eldon Cole, MU Extension regional livestock specialist, Mount Vernon, has a formula to estimate value of bred SMS heifers. That put an average price about $150 above sale-day average at Kingsville.

The heifers are enrolled in a yearlong MU Extension management and genetic program. The first emphasis was on calving ease but now includes performance EPDs (expected progeny differences).

National average on assistance needed at calving runs almost 30 percent, Hoffman said at the start of the sale. “Show-Me-Select minimizes the need to help heifers at calving time.”

Death loss of heifers and their calves has been almost eliminated.

The sale catalog contains data on performance and sires.

Some consignors, such as Crooks Farm, enter steermates of their heifers in the new MU Quality Beef by the Numbers program. This returns carcass data and premiums back to cow-herd owners.

Most of those now know their steers grade more than 80 percent USDA choice or better.

The Crooks averaged quality-beef premiums of $288 per head. That’s on top of record high prices being paid by packing plants.

Enrollments are open for the 2015 Show-Me-Select season. Regional MU Extension livestock specialists can provide local details and take enrollments.

Three more sales are set: Fruitland, Dec. 6; Palmyra, Dec. 13; and Green City, Dec. 20. Details are athttp://agebb.missouri.edu/select.