VIENNA, Mo. — Ozark beef herd owners met March 21 at the sale barn in Vienna to consider expanding the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program in the area. That could include spring and fall sales, the marketing part of the University of Missouri Extension educational program.
“Area herd owners want a sale closer to home,” said Anita Ellis, regional specialist, Fulton. “Our farmers don’t want to haul heifers to sales two hours away.”
There are now six SMS sales in Missouri: Joplin, Palmyra, Fruitland, Farmington, Kingsville and Kirksville. There’s an unserved region in the middle of the state.
The meeting at South Central Regional Stockyards, west of Vienna, gave a dinner served by the sale barn cafe. They served 73 producers.
“It was a great turnout,” Ellis said. “They were eager and engaged cattle producers.”
MU Extension livestock specialists told heifer rules and benefits. The discussion was helped by producers enrolled in the program, she said.
Heifers enrolled in Show-Me-Select carry trademarked ear tags that certify the heifers meet rigid standards in management and genetics.
Jordan Thomas, MU specialist from Columbia, told “Why and How of Development.” Pre-breeding exams eliminate heifers that cannot be bred successfully. Pelvic-opening measurements are a first step. That cuts death losses of calves and heifers. Reproductive tract scores prevent breeding pre-puberty heifers. That leads to fewer failed breedings. Veterinary exams add value to farm herds.
While heifer sales make news based on high prices at sale time, the main value builds the home-farm herds. Jordan said 90 percent of heifers in the program are bred by artificial insemination. That allows use of top genetics in a breed, which adds value for heifer buyers.
Zac Erwin, a regional livestock specialist who coordinates the Kirksville sale, gave what he called the hard facts. “Sale success depends on standing behind your product, giving customer satisfaction,” he said. “You must deliver top quality.”
Thomas said sales sell more than heifers. They offer background data on each animal in the sale catalog. Rules do not allow heifers with any blemishes. All consignments in a sale are examined on arrival by Missouri Department of Agriculture graders. Exams go beyond body condition scores.
With fixed-time artificial insemination, expected calving dates are given to buyers. Those shorten calving seasons and cut labor.
Eric Bailey, MU Extension livestock nutritionist, gave feeding tips. Balanced rations reduce feed costs. Proper nutrition aids calving rates. Extra fat might look good but may hurt conceptions.
Local veterinarians provide required health checks. They certify reproductive tract scores for enrolled heifers.
Ellis gave out enrollment forms for producers to fill out and submit. If enough farmers sign up, sales can be planned. Local sales are organized by area farmers.
From farmer response, Ellis said, “The number of heifers for sale can more than double.”
Reach Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org(opens in new window) or at the MU Extension Center in Callaway County, 5803 County Road 302, Fulton, MO 65251.
Ellis covers counties on the north from Howard to Callaway and south in a line from Camden, Pulaski and Maries to Gasconade.
Farmers must enroll 30 to 60 days ahead of breeding. Protocols start with pre-breeding exams. Regional extension specialists give on-farm assistance.
Other sales across Missouri are open for enrollment.
Protocol guides lead farmers through the rules. “Guides seem forbidding, but they come one step at a time,” Thomas said. “Help is available.”
SMS details are at agebb.missouri.edu/select(opens in new window).
— Duane Dailey, University of Missouri Extension
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