Proven replacement heifers build genetics in beef herds. They increase future calf value from the herd.

Buying Show-Me-Select replacement heifers gives a quicker boost to herd genetics than growing your own, says Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef specialist.

Increasing numbers of herd owners specialize in raising superior SMS replacements. Buying them adds heifers from the top proven sires in the breed.

Six fall sales of spring-calving SMS heifers start Oct. 28.

Sale dates, locations, times and contacts are:

  • Oct. 28, Farmington Livestock Auction, 7 p.m.; Kendra Graham, 573-756-4539.
  • Nov. 18, Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, 7 p.m.; Eldon Cole, Mount Vernon, 417-466-3102.
  • Nov. 18, Kirksville Livestock, 6 p.m.; Zac Erwin, 660-665-9866.
  • Nov. 26, Kingsville Livestock Auction, 11 a.m.; David Hoffman, Harrisonville, 816-380-8460.
  • Dec. 3, Fruitland Livestock Sales, 1 p.m.; Erin Larimore, Jackson, 573-243-3581.
  • Dec. 10, F & T Livestock Market, Palmyra, 12:30 p.m.; Daniel Mallory, New London, 573-985-3911.

Producing superior heifers with calving-ease genetics isn’t a quick process. Heifer buyers gain benefits of years of work by developers. Purchased genetics show up in the next calf crop.

This fall, MU Extension regional livestock specialists say sellers are uncertain about expected prices. Calf prices and beef futures markets dropped sharply this year from record prices two years ago.

Specialists remind sellers that many more bidders know the value of beef genetics. They pay more for quality.

However, Eldon Cole, MU Extension specialist at Mount Vernon, says, “It could be a buyers’ market.”

MU Extension leads the nation in heifer development education, which has been underway since 1997. Buyers from 19 states have bought heifers at SMS sales.

Kendra Graham, MU Extension specialist, Farmington, is surprised by the number of phone calls from potential out-of-state buyers.

“Repeat buyers bid more for Show-Me-Select,” Patterson said. “They know what they are buying.”

Bidders get data as well as heifers. Sale-day catalogs give genetic details such as sire EPDs (expected progeny differences) on sale offerings.

Major emphasis in the early years was on adding calving-ease EPDs. Herd owners almost eliminated need for cesarean-section births of large calves. Veterinarians like that.

With calving ease, buyers cut death losses of heifers and offspring at calving. Along with calving ease, breeders add EPDs for carcass traits such as marbling.

With fixed-time artificial insemination (FTAI), all cows can be bred on the same day. That shortens calving seasons. Producers spend fewer nights checking calving.

Best of all, they find fewer heifers need assistance at birth.

SMS is more than genetics, Patterson said. Good health and nutrition help heifers reach puberty earlier. Pre-breeding exams cull heifers that can’t calve. That groups calving dates and boosts calving rates as well. Dead calves hurt herd profits.

In recent talks at beef meetings, MU Extension economist Scott Brown says growing quality beef gives risk management. Carcasses grading USDA prime sell for more than lower-quality grades. Also, prime quality smooths price volatility.

Information on the SMS program and sales can be found at agebb.missouri.edu/select.

Patterson and MU graduate students did research on heifer management and breeding at the MU Thompson Farm, Spickard. The farm, part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, maintains a commercial Angus-based beef herd.