An F1 tornado didn't stop the sale of 339 Show-Me-Select replacement heifers. As a storm warning covered southwestern Missouri, the sale went on. It averaged $1,714 at Joplin Regional Stockyards, May 19.

Attendance was low and bidding started slow, says Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, Mount Vernon.

Bidding picked up once Tier Two AI-bred heifers came in the ring. Bidders know to pay for quality beef, Cole says.

The sale-topping three heifers averaged $3,200. They had stacked genetics. First, the crossbred Angus-Simmentals ranked Tier Two, being out of proven sires bred to proven sires. Next, they were AI-bred, a growing trend. Beyond that, they were DNA genomic-tested. That means genetically enhanced expected progeny differences (EPDs.)

The new genomic-tested heifers are called Show-Me Plus.

The entire lot of seven sold for an average of $2,786, the top for a single farm. They came from Shiloh Land & Cattle Co., Mount Vernon. Owners Darrel and Anita Franson retired last year but came back for one more sale.

Each spring and fall, bidders pay higher premiums for top genetics. The heifers come from producers enrolled in the MU Extension heifer program.

At this sale, bidders paid an average premium of $693. The Tier Two AI-bred heifers averaged $2,267, while the Tier One bull-bred averaged $1,594.

Cole says prices could have been higher if more bidders had arrived.

Before the sale, a tornado hit a beef farm near Stotts City, to the east off I-44. Farm debris blocked travel on the highway.

"The sale barn looked empty, with no onlookers," Cole says. However, the sale was already scheduled on the Internet.

John Wheeler, Marionville, longtime consignor of black baldies, sold about half his 44 head to an online bidder in Oklahoma. That helped his sale average of $1,842.

Ahead of the sale, Cole said heifers offered were the best he had seen.

He noted the success of Nolan Kleiboeker, Wentworth. The longtime consignor sold 45 black baldies for an average $2,145 per head. They were Tier Two AI-bred, out of a Polled Hereford to commercial Angus cows.

Repeat buyers help raise sale price averages, Cole said. Buyers learn the value of quality heifers. The sales gained fame for heifers with calving ease.

Having live calves is partially genetics but also management. All heifers have pre-breeding exams to assure they can pass a calf at birth. Also, the exam checks readiness to conceive. Those qualities are passed on to offspring.

The Show-Me-Select heifers tend to stay in herds for years. They can be replacements. Or they can build a quality herd from the start.

A top buyer was Trevon Ogden, Lockwood. He purchased 44 head for an average of $1,614. Close behind was Jared Kleiboeker, Wentworth. He bought 33 head at a $1,793 average.

Buying heifers pregnancy-checked with ultrasound adds value. All are sold guaranteed bred.

Much of the value of the heifers is the data in a sale-day catalog. Buyers get information as well as quality. That helps improve a herd.

Only heifers wearing ear tags with the trademarked SMS logo are the real thing. Heifers sold as having SMS protocol are not the same. Extension specialists and veterinarians check offerings year-round, not just for the sale.

Also, heifers arriving at the barn are checked by graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. That's part of quality assurance.

Beef owners can enroll their herds through their local MU Extension center. Details are at agebb.missouri.edu/select.

Future teaching includes value of new genomic tests. Those increase accuracy of the EPDs. Instead of juggling many EPD traits, there is one dollar-value index. The correct test must be used for each breed or cross.