Sales from the Show-Me Elect Bred Heifer Sale at the Joplin Regional Stockyards at the November 2013 auction yielded an average price of $2,127 for 233 heifers. That price has some Missouri beef producers looking at enrolling heifers in the Show-Me Select program, according to University of Missouri beef specialist Eldon Cole.
"In terms of added-value to a heifer calf, based on her price a year earlier the spread for potential added-value was very attractive at $1,365," he says. And while Cole did not have absolute cost figures on what all the expenses are from then through the sale, he says cooperators estimate costs at $675 or roughly $1.85 per day.
"With those numbers in mind I've had a few calls from those interested in giving the SMS program a try next year," he says.
Cole offers a few suggestions before enrolling in the Show-Me Select program:
1. If buying heifers to develop, be very discriminating. Pretend you're buying them to keep for yourself.
2. Don't keep heifers or buy those with an attitude. Note their temperament in the head chute and especially when they're released, he says. Make a note in your Redbook when you work them at weaning or pre-breeding if they charge out of the head gate rapidly. "Chances are they'll be worse the next time they're worked as temperament is an inherited and repeatable trait," Cole adds.
3. Don't start heifers on the SMS tract if they've had eye infection issues. Those with eye scars will be culled.
4. The SMS program does not accept heifers with frozen ears or tails.
5. Heifers known to be born twin with a bull should not be kept as there's a high likelihood she's a freemartin.
6. Each of the SMS locations seem to develop their own reputation for what breed, cross or color sells best. Understand what attracts bids at the sales to which you will be consigning.
7. Be as objective as possible and put only heifers that have desirable frame size, muscling and body condition in the program.
8. Be a rigorous schedule/records person. First-timers should have their extension specialist and veterinarian present each time the heifers go through the chute.
Remember, selling breeding stock, like the SMS heifers, requires a good bit more detail than just loading up a trailer of feeder calves and hauling them to your favorite feeder cattle auction, Cole says. "It's a more detailed enterprise and your involvement goes beyond selling them. Be prepared to respond if a heifer shows up open, aborts, jumps the fence and leaves the farm, requires a c-section or dies."
The SMS program is a good, value-added, program for good operators, Cole adds. "Just go into it with your eyes wide open not expecting to sell $2,000 heifers every sale."
Source: MU Beef Newsletter