In an all-time record-setting sale, 168 bred replacement heifers sold for an average of $3,033 at the Fruitland (Missouri) Livestock Auction, Dec. 6.

“The (southeastern Missouri) sale broke all previous Show-Me-Select records on prices for heifers in the program,” said Judy Burton, Madison, SMS executive secretary.

The sale was third in five fall sales in the heifer program from University of Missouri Extension.

The top seven consignors averaged more than $3,200 on 69 heifers, according to sale managers Roger Eakins and Erin Larimore. Both are MU Extension regional specialists in Jackson.

“The sale proved the deepest quality in heifers offered for sale. There was no lack in the entire sale. Prices reflect that,” Eakins said.

McClure Farms, Perryville, topped the average consignment with $3,375. That was on four registered Angus.

Crooks Farm, Leeton, hit second high at $3,370 on 20 commercial Sim-Angus cross heifers.

Top total consignment was from Birk Cattle Co., Jackson, which had 52 head that averaged $2,942. Its commercial cattle were mostly Angus and black whiteface heifers with eight red whiteface heifers.

More than 60 percent of sale heifers were bred by timed artificial insemination. Timed AI gives a known calving date plus a uniform-age calf crop preferred by buyers.

“Repeat buyers make the sale,” Eakins said. “Return buyers know how our heifers perform. When pleased, they bid more.”

All heifers are pregnancy checked within 30 days of the sale and sold with pregnancy guarantees, said Larimore.

Larimore and Eakins overlap as regional livestock specialists. She picks up as he retires. He managed the SMS program for 17 years.

In this sale, 73 percent of heifers sold were with fetal-sexed calves. When pregnancy checked by ultrasound, calves can be diagnosed as being bull or heifer.  Heifers pregnant with bull calves brought premium prices.

A sale catalog contains breeding and management data. That adds value.

On arrival at the barn, heifers are checked by Missouri Department of Agriculture graders. “None were excluded from this sale,” Larimore said.

Show-Me-Select was started to improve care and reproduction in beef heifers across Missouri. Heifers can be difficult to manage and breed. Adding calving-ease genetics plus management cuts death losses.

Before the breeding season, veterinarians measure heifer pelvic openings to assure easy passage of a calf. Calving ease, along with known calving dates, cuts labor at calving time.

As calving genetics improves, performance genetics goes up as well. Steer mates of heifers gain value in the feedlot.

Crooks Farm enters steers in the MU Quality Beef by the Numbers program. After feeding and sale, consignors get feedlot and carcass sheets.

The steer mates to Crooks Farm heifers earned $288 premiums above market when prices were setting records every week.

The two MU Extension programs return data that guide future breeding. The programs boost management, genetics and marketing.

Missouri producers can enroll now for 2015 with MU Extension livestock specialists.

Sale information is online at http://agebb.missouri.edu/select. Next sales are Dec. 13, Palmyra, and Dec 20, Green City.