COLUMBIA, Mo. – Bred heifers sold for an average of $2,444, a new record for the Show-Me-Select sale at Joplin Regional Stockyards, May 16.

“Heifers sold for $300 more per head than a year ago,” says Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, Mount Vernon.

Consignments were up, Cole says, with 228 heifers qualifying for the sale that caps a yearlong educational program for producers.

Top price was $3,050 for Angus-Hereford-cross heifers bred to Angus sires. John Wheeler, Marionville, a regular consignor, sold that top lot of four head. In all, he sold 32 head as the largest consignor.

Artificial insemination (AI) is used on an increasing number of Show-Me-Select heifers. In Tier One (basic level) heifers, 96 were bred AI while 130 were bred by bulls. Buyers paid a $179 premium for AI-bred heifers. This bonus moved up as well.

“AI breeding gives access to top proven and high-accuracy sires in a breed,” says David Patterson, MU Extension beef reproduction specialist, Columbia. Also, AI allows fixed-time breeding. The whole cow herd can be bred on the same day. This concentrates the calving season, which cuts time spent checking the herd at a critical time.

At the start of the program, with the first sale in 1997, emphasis was on calving ease genetics. Now, producers have learned they can select for other traits such as daily gain or carcass quality, which also bring premium prices.

SMS was started by Patterson after he came to MU from the University of Kentucky. Much of the research on fixed-time AI protocols was done at the MU Thompson Farm, Spickard.

The spring sales are for heifers that will calve this fall. More sales will be held in December for spring-calving herds.

Judy Burton, secretary of the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program, says enrollments for the fall-calving program surged with rising beef prices.

Fall sales have not been set; however, more auctions may be added with rising enrollments. Once set, the sites and dates will be listed on the MU Agricultural Electronic Bulletin Board (AgEBB) at

The last U.S. cow census indicated a decades-long downward trend in cow numbers was near an end. The next census is expected to show an increase.

That will require more replacement heifers.

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