Show-Me-Select heifers reached new record prices, averaging $3,208 on 286 head. The sale was Dec. 13 at F&T Livestock Market in Marion County.

Some broke the $4,000 price barrier for pregnant soon-to-be cows.

“Bid ’em up,” said auctioneer Brian Curless. “The hard work has been done (on raising herd replacements).” Afterward, he added, “All cattle are bringing high prices. But these are the best heifers we’ve ever sold.”

Heifers from the University of Missouri development program have sold at Palmyra for 18 years.  This was fourth of five fall sales. Each set record prices.

Highest average price from a consignor was $3,765 on 23 Angus-cross heifers from Keithley-Jackson Farm, Frankford. Ed Jackson has consigned for 18 years. His heifers are bred by timed artificial insemination protocols from the MU research herd, Spickard.

Next high average was $3,756 on eight head from Jim and Sharon Schlager, Canton. Of their 10 Angus, nine were registered purebreds. They sold the top individual heifer for $4,050.

Three other highest average prices topped $3,300.

Putting prices in perspective, sale co-manager Daniel Mallory said the low-priced lot in this sale brought $500 more than the average price last year. The rest of the year, sale co-managers and MU Extension regional livestock specialists Mallory of New London and Zac Erwin, Kirksville, teach herd owners how to raise quality beef.

In this sale, third high average was $3,333 to McCutchan Angus Farm, Monticello. Those were three registered Angus, bred timed AI. The McCutchans have consigned 18 years.

Fourth high was $3,331 to Deer Creek Cattle Co., Clarksville. The 21 head of Angus-cross heifers were bred by timed AI.

Fifth was $3,324 to Prairie View Farms, Greg Drebes, Monroe City.  His 26 head were Simmental and Sim-Angus cross. The 18-year consignor uses timed AI.

"Repeat buyers make the sale," said Erwin. “They come back because they are pleased with the results.” He estimated 80 percent of the buyers were repeats.    

The Palmyra sale in northeastern Missouri brought in 13 buyers from Illinois and one from Iowa. They help build Missouri’s reputation as a source of quality replacements.

All heifers in the sale are enrolled by consignors in a yearlong heifer improvement program. Management emphasizes health and nutrition in addition to proven genetics.

All heifers are pregnancy checked twice, once after breeding and again within 30 days of the sale. All heifers are checked on arrival at the sale by graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Those not meeting standards are sent home.

Only a small part of heifers in the program are sold. Most remain in home herds to expand the operations.

“The sale provides a teaching moment,” Erwin said. “When consignors don’t get the price expected, they want to do better.

“Consignors may think their cattle are best, but when they see others, they are ready to learn. We can help them.”

Joining the teaching team this year is Brenda Arnold, extension livestock educator at Monticello.

The fifth sale will be Dec. 20 at Green City. Enrollments are open for 2015 at MU Extension centers.

Retired specialist Al Kennett managed the Palmyra sale for 15 years. Now he visits consignors he helped start.

Kennett recalls the first sale averaged $789, a record price in 1997.