Heifer Selection Important to Livestock Management

Cattle producers make changes in livestock management practices

Published on: May 6, 2013

Adding quality heifers to a cattle operation can improve Missouri's beef industry according to a University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist.

One livestock management tool farmers are using to incorporate proven heifers is the Missouri Show-Me-Select (SMS) Beef Heifer Development Program. The program began in 1997 as a tool to improve the on-farm heifer development practices around the state. The program was the idea of Dr. Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef reproduction specialist.

According to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, Patterson had developed a similar effort in Kentucky.

"He saw the potential for improving Missouri's beef industry. Missouri has the reputation of being a seedstock state and the tested bull program has been highly successful since the 1960's," said Cole.

Livestock producers will have an opportunity to use the Show-Me-Select Beef Heifer Development Program during the next SMS sale in southwest Missouri.
Livestock producers will have an opportunity to use the Show-Me-Select Beef Heifer Development Program during the next SMS sale in southwest Missouri.

Spring sale

Livestock producers will have an opportunity to use this livestock management tool during the next SMS sale in southwest Missouri. The event will be at 7 p.m., May 17 at Joplin Regional Stockyards in Carthage. The sale already has 350 head consigned that will calve from early August through November. Over half of these heifers carry calves out of artificial insemination or AI service.

Heifers will be screened the day prior to the sale by graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture and USDA. Heifers weighing less than 800 pounds, those with small frames, light muscling and poor temperaments will be removed from the sale.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

The average number of heifers per draft will be four head with a range from one to 10 head. All heifers have been BVD-PI ear notch tested and found negative, as well as, vaccinated for brucellosis.

History of success

In addition to the use of nutritional, reproductive, genetic and health practices to improve heifer development, the SMS program provided an added bonus to their livestock management plans in terms of a marketing component. About one-third of the heifers that go through the various practices from weaning to third-stage pregnancy are offered for sale, either privately or at auction.

The first SMS sale was held in November 1997. At this inaugural sale, 175 bred heifers sold for an average of $864 per head. Since then, 27 sales have been held. According to Cole, the average price at the November 2012 sale was $1,974 per head.

"Sales have become a profitable, added-value market for consignors," said Cole.

Cole visited the farm of Philip Brooks near Exeter. Brooks was an early buyer of SMS heifers starting back in 1999.

"We went to one pasture and found four of his older SMS purchases. They still look sound and Philip says they've calved on-schedule every year," Cole said. He adds that Brooks has seen the merits of this livestock management program and now is developing 10 heifers to be in the November 2014 sale.

More information

Catalogs for the spring sale may be obtained from University of Missouri Extension offices or accessed online. Video of a portion of the heifers may be viewed closer to sale day at the Joplin Regional Stockyards website. Phone contacts maybe made at 417-466-3102.

Source: University of Missouri Extension