Missouri beef replacement heifers are wanted by out-of-state herd owners. That demand will grow, Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef specialist, told area producers.
Higher demand will come when droughts end, Patterson added. Herd owners will need high-quality replacements then.
Missouri producers must start breeding for that quality now. Growing replacements takes time.
Patterson spoke in Milan, Jan. 31, at a meeting called by Gentrie Shafer, MU Extension livestock specialist. She helps area producers improve quality beef production.
That includes the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program.
Missouri herd owners hold "huge potential" for supplying replacements for drought-thinned cow herds across the country.
The program helps producers successfully start young cows. With better management and breeding, hundreds of Missouri herd owners have profited.
A part of that program has been 119 bred-heifer sales that returned more than $30 million to owners.
"Sales are a small part of the benefits," Patterson said. Producers boost profits with lower death losses of calves-and heifers. They use less labor by cutting calving assistance.
Some farmers arrived at the night meeting after putting cows into calving pens. At the time, temperatures were dropping below zero and north winds blew. They were interested in trouble-free calving.
"In surveys, buyers say the main thing they want is calving ease," Patterson said. They also like genetics that boost rapid gains and bring quality premiums from feedlots and packers.
The idea of Show-Me-Select already draws attention of herd owners in other states. "They want what we already have," Patterson said.
MU animal scientists developed the heifer program over the last 15 years. Improvements are made each year. Research on breeding protocols is still underway at the MU Thompson Farm in Grundy County.
The newest timed artificial insemination (TAI) protocol, 14-day CIDR-PG, is already used across the state and nation.
"Veterinarians like the new protocol," Patterson said. "It fits with needed pre-breeding exams and vaccinations."
Timed AI allows breeding all cows in a herd on one day. That shortens the calving season. More important, AI allows use of top sires in whatever breed the farmer owns.
Rapid genetic improvement is possible with AI, Patterson said. SMS management improves calving success also in bull-bred herds.
The program covers more than breeding. It includes nutrition, health and better marketing. Formation of an SMS group may result in restarting a regional heifer sale.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Patterson warned. "First we must get the heifers."
Shafer said other meetings could be held in the region if there is interest. Shafer covers an area from Unionville to Moberly. Her counties are Putnam, Sullivan, Macon and Randolph.
Patterson said enrollment cutoff for SMS was Feb. 1. That deadline was moved to March 1 in the north-central area. "If you pay the $25 herd fee, you become a participant for this year." Per-head fees come later.
After the meeting in Gordo's Restaurant, several producers signed the forms. Producers were from Sullivan, Putnam, Adair, Linn and Daviess counties. Schafer said about half the attendees were previous SMS members.
"With the number of high-quality cattle in this area, there should be Show-Me-Select heifers in this region," Patterson said. The sales and other business are run by an organization of participating herd owners.
Source: University of Missouri Extension