Wanted A Few Good Heifers

 Left: Red Angus heifers are increasingly popular at the Joplin Regional Stockyards, SMS sale.
 Right: Black baldies always attract attention at the SMS sale at Carthage.


   It will soon be time to process yearling heifers that are prospects for the Missouri Show-Me-Select (SMS) Beef Heifer Development Program. The heifers will be bred starting in November and will be eligible for the May 21 sale at Joplin Regional Stockyards providing they meet the requirements for the program.
   The SMS program is a value-added program designed to put good quality beef heifers through a set of management protocols from weaning to pre-breeding to second and third stage pregnancy when they are offered for sale at several special sales around the state.
   Designated heifers are mostly crossbred but some sales have quite a few purebred heifers in their offering. Many heifers that complete the program are retained for replacements in the herd of origin rather than be offered for sale.
   Participants have found the added value at the sales on the top heifers is very attractive. The 215 heifers at the Joplin Regional sale in May, 2020 averaged $1687 per head. The range was wide with the high end swelling at $2000 to $2200 per head. In contrast a couple of heifers only brought $1000.
   Historically, the sale price for the average heifer is close to the value of two, 550 pound steers that would grade 1 and 2 muscle and are Medium and Large frames. Features that add extra value include: synchronization and artificially bred; weigh over 1000 pounds at sale time; uniform in appearance; calm acting; have genomic test data; have several head consigned and be a repeat consignor.
   The cost to carry out nearly the year-long protocol varies from producer-to-producer. Estimates on the cost for feed, veterinarian, breeding and marketing expense falls in the $1.75 to $1.90 per head per day range.
   If you'd like to sign up for the SMS program, contact the University of Missouri Extension field specialist in livestock near you. Extension specialists attempt to be at each of the three primary workings of the heifers by the veterinarian at pre-breeding, the first preg check, no later than 90 days into the pregnancy and for the final preg check within 30 days of the sale.
   The special sales do provide a good marketing opportunity to take advantage of the added value aspect of the program. However, cow-calf raisers have adopted many of the practices in the SMS program without selling any heifers. They've found such things as pelvic measuring, tract scoring, heat synchronization, early pregnancy checking via ultrasound have helped them be more successful with their beef cow enterprise.
   The bottom line of the program is to enhance reproductive performance in heifers and beef cows during their lifetime. You may learn more about the SMS program on line at: https://extension2.missouri.edu/programs/show-me-select-replacement-heifer-program . ∆
   ELDON COLE: Extension Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri
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