Historical success of program makes sale a popular event
The Missouri Show-Me-Select (SMS) Beef Heifer Development 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 1960s," said Cole.
The next SMS sale in southwest Missouri will be at 7 p.m., May 17 at Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage. The sale has 350 head consigned that will calve from early August through November. Over half of these heifers carry calves out of AI service.
Heifers will be screened the day prior to the sale by graders from the Missouri Department of Agriculture and USDA. Heifers weighing under 800 pounds, those with small frames, light muscling and poor temperaments will be removed from the sale.
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 and have been 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 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 Southwest Missouri Beef Cattle Improvement Association was one of the first groups around the state to test the SMS program and held the first SMS sale 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 $1974 per head.
"Sales have become a profitable, added-value market for consignors," said Cole.
As for the buyers, Cole says they realize SMS tagged heifers have been through a comprehensive program and should easily calve the first time and breed back regularly in the future.
"Buyers have also discovered that buying, high-quality heifers may be more economical than raising their own," said Cole.
Surveys taken after every sale show the overall assist rate for the heifers is around 10 percent. The two factors contributing to calving ease are pre-breeding pelvic measurements and the use of bulls that meet calving ease expected progeny difference (EPD) requirements.
Cole recently visited the farm of Philip Brooks near Exeter. Brooks was an early buyer of SMS heifers (1999, 2000 and 2001).
"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. He has seen the merits of the program and now is developing 10 heifers to be in the November, 2014, SMS sale," said Cole.
Catalogs for the spring sale may be obtained from University of Missouri Extension offices or accessed online http://ww.swbcia.com/. Video of a portion of the heifers may be seen nearer sale day at www.joplinstockyards.com.
For more information on getting involved with the SMS program, call Cole at 417-466-3102.