With 5 million heifers added to U.S. beef cow herd, Missourians must raise quality beef to compete, says a University of Missouri Extension specialist.

Quality beef attracts buyers, Dave Patterson told producers at a forage and beef conference at Cuba, Mo., Feb. 29. Some 170 producers came to the event at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

The cattle-cycle upturn added more heifers than expected, Patterson said. While more beef can lower prices, demand for USDA prime and high choice beef stays strong.

Domestic and global consumers prefer quality beef. The U.S. leads the world, producing 85 percent of the top grades of beef.

Producers growing standard grade beef will compete with producers in every beef country.

The fastest way to boost quality in a herd will be by artificial insemination (AI) from top proven sires, Patterson said.

Fixed-time AI (FTAI) protocols allow all cows in a herd to be bred in one day. Proven AI sires add quality. Timed breeding adds uniformity to calf crops. Quality and uniformity bring premium prices, whether for feeder calves or fed cattle at packing plants.

Beef price premiums help the farm profits in a dropping market.

Missouri producers find the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program leads to quality beef.  That program does more than improve calving ease, creating more live calves. The protocols also add quality to the heifers’ steermates.

There will be more heifers for sale, as the SMS heifers stay in the herd longer. That takes fewer replacements, which helps profits.

Show-Me-Select does more than add proven genetics. Management includes culling heifers that can’t calve on time or easily. Culled heifers go to feedlots.

Pre-breeding exams find heifers that have not reached puberty and heifers with pelvic areas too small to pass a calf.

Research on timed-AI protocols continues at the MU Thompson Farm, Spickard. That is part of the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station.

New studies by Patterson refine timed AI. Those are added to Show-Me-Select instructions, which are printed on two sides of one page.

“Be sure to use the 2016 requirements,” Patterson said. The AI protocols are also printed in sire catalogs from AI companies.

Producers can enroll their herds by contacting regional MU Extension livestock specialists. They provide yearlong educational programs.

Only heifers with black-and-gold trademarked ear tags can be sold as Show-Me-Select.

The heifer program also offers marketing, with SMS sales in both spring and fall. Buyers continue to raise price premiums for Tier Two heifers with stacked genetics. Those heifers are out of proven sires and bred to proven sires.

Also, buyers pay more for AI-bred heifers over bull-bred heifers.

“Our best bidders are return buyers,” Patterson said. “They know what they are getting.” Now buyers come to Missouri to buy replacements. So far they’ve come from 19 states.

East-central Ozarks is prime country for producing more Show-Me-Select Heifers, Patterson said.

At the Cuba meeting, area extension specialists announced a new SMS sale at Farmington, April 15, to sell fall-calving heifers. A spring-calving heifer sale will be held in October.

Details on the program and sales can be seen on the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program website at http://agebb.missouri.edu/select/.