The average price for 146 replacement beef heifers was $1,977 in the Show-Me-Select sale at F&T Livestock Market, Palmyra, June 4.
The top price was $2,300 per head, compared to tops of $2,500, $3,200 and $3,500 in earlier sales across the state.
“The crowd was light, but people came to buy,” sale manager Daniel Mallory said.
“With a dropping cattle market, heifer prices held steady through the sale,” he said. “The price range was $600, top to bottom.” Mallory is University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist in New London.
A sunny Saturday with rain to the west led farmers to make hay and plant soybeans. That kept potential bidders on their tractors, onlookers said.
“An inch of rain this afternoon would have helped prices,” said Zac Erwin, co-manager and regional MU Extension livestock specialist, Kirksville.
Top consignor, in numbers and price received, was Rich Vehige of Deer Creek Cattle Co., Clarksville. His 36 heifers averaged $2,080.
Almost tying him at an average of $2,079 on 28 head was Terry Mudd, of Twin Hill Stock Farms, Silex.
Both consignors used synchronized artificial insemination. After the sale, both summed it up the same way: “Very pleased.”
Mallory added, “We went into a cattle market that had been in almost constant decline from April to June.”
Palmyra was one of two locations where Show-Me-Select sales started 20 years ago. The northeast region built a reputation for high-quality replacements. However, more heifers are sold in the fall sales for spring-calving herds. This was the second spring sale after an earlier attempt a few years ago did not attract enough bidders.
“Fall calving is gaining in north Missouri,” said Dave Patterson, MU Extension beef specialist. “Fall calving is widely used in south Missouri. Down there, longer grazing seasons in the fall and milder winters help the practice.”
Cows with young calves going into winter require more supplemental feed. In recent warm winters, fall calving moved north in Missouri.
Fall herds calve in better weather starting in September. Spring calving often means winter calving in February. Most of the spring-sale consignors are longtime participants in fall heifer sales for spring-calving herds.
All consignors take part in an MU Extension educational program on heifer development. The Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program was started to improve calving ease. That cuts death loss of calves and young cows.
Now sires used in the breeding program must meet minimum standards on four additional traits: birth weight, weaning weight, yearling weight and maternal milk.
Producers learn to use EPDs (expected progeny differences) in selecting herd sires, whether AI or natural service.
Heifers are sold guaranteed pregnant. They have been preg checked within 30 days of the sale.
On arrival at the barn, all are checked by graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Those not conforming are sent home. Herd owners interested in the SMS program can sign up with their regional MU Extension livestock specialist. For more information, go to agebb.missouri.edu/select. Sales of spring-calving replacement heifers will be held in November and December.
MU Extension livestock specialist