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Source: Univ. Of Missouri Extension

In the first fall sale, 181 Show-Me-Select bred heifers sold for an average $1,974 at Joplin Regional Stockyards. That was a record high, topping the average of $1,433 last fall.

In spite of dry weather in the growing season and short hay supplies in southwestern Missouri, bidding stayed vigorous for top lots.

The top lot averaged $2,550 for two Angus crossbred heifers. The consignor, J.W. Henson, Conway, Mo., also received top average of $2,321 on 20 head of Angus and Angus-cross heifers.

John Wheeler, Marionville, Mo., sold 42 head for $2,182 average for second-highest average. They were Angus-Hereford crossbred heifers. His top lot went for $2,400 average on nine head of AI-bred heifers.

Over time, bidders have paid a $100 premium for heifers bred by artificial insemination (AI) over heifers bred natural-service.

In the Joplin sale, AI-bred heifers averaged a premium of $164 per head for an average of $2,079, topping $1,915 for bull-bred heifers.

"The AI sires carry more highly proven genetics," said Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef reproduction specialist. In addition, heifers bred with fixed-time AI, when all are bred on the same day, offer a shorter calving season next spring.

In their evaluations, buyers consistently rate the short calving season high.

Wheeler has been a regular consignor in the sale. Henson was a first-timer.

Last fall, bidding at Joplin was slow because of drought. The top lot in that sale averaged $1,850, said Judy Burton, executive secretary of the statewide Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers, Inc. The group is a nonprofit corporation with board members from sale consignors.

The program started as an MU Extension pilot project, with the first sale at Joplin in 1997. This was the 27th sale, said Eldon Cole, extension regional livestock specialist, Mount Vernon, Mo.

The fall sale offers heifers bred to calve next spring. The spring sale sells fall-calving heifers.

Consignors of replacement heifers are enrolled in a year-round educational program led by MU Extension regional livestock specialists. Veterinarians examine the heifers before breeding season. And they check for pregnancy 90 days after breeding and again within 30 days of the sale.

Consignors guarantee SMS heifers to be bred and to remain so for 30 days past the sale, Cole said.

On arrival at the sale barn, heifers are checked by USDA and Missouri Department of Agriculture graders. Those not meeting standards are sent home.

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