Prices Steady

Producers Don't Hold Back in Show-Me-Select Bred Heifer Sale

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Abundant forage supplies this spring were a positive factor in the first University of Missouri Show-Me-Select bred heifer sale of the season, held at Joplin. (Progressive Farmer photo by Becky Mills)

Over 200 buyers showed up at the first Show-Me-Select bred heifer sale of the season, proving all is not doom and gloom in the cattle industry.

The sale took place May 15, at Missouri's Joplin Regional Stockyards. It was an in-person, and an on-line sale, marketing 215 heifers. They all sold in just 65 minutes, at an average price of $1,687 each.

Eldon Cole, University of Missouri livestock specialist, said 4 of the first 6 lots topped the $2,000 mark. Two, red Angus heifers consigned by Kunkel Farms out of Neosho, went at $2,200. The buyer was Jordan Thomas from Columbia.

Later, that same $2,200 bell was rung on four, AI-bred black baldy heifers from John Wheeler, of Marionville. Wheeler has a strong reputation among Show-Me-Select buyers, having been part of 32 of these specialty sales at Joplin going back to 2003. His buyer, Jim Honey from Carthage was a repeat buyer.

Volume buyer of the sale was Steven Mattingly, from Washburn. This first-time buyer picked up 24 head, at an average price of $1,900 each.

Cole was happy with the sales report at the end of the day, as well as buyer turnout. Attendance was so strong, Cole noted he had to view the sale from a separate room to meet University of Missouri Covid-19 safety rules for faculty.

The separation did little to dull his enthusiasm, especially as it became clear the market on bred heifers is "absolutely steady". Cole noted the last Show-Me-Select sale of the 2019 season, held in November, brought an average price of $1,672; the Joplin sale from 2019, brought a slightly higher average of $1,717. That is just a $30 difference when compared to this year.

"I've kept a ratio since we started this program in 1997," he added. "It just almost averages out at every sale that the average price will be two times what the value of a good, 550-pound steer will bring that same week at the markets here in Missouri. I think for this sale that ratio comes to 1.94."

Asked if he was surprised at the strength of the bred heifer market in light of all the news that Covid-19 is hurting cattle producers, this long-time veteran in the industry said he really wasn't.

"If you're a cow-calf producer you really can't let this kind of news affect you. You have to drive on ahead. Farmers are optimistic, they have to be. They are willing to accept some challenge and some risk, believing somehow they will end up making money," said Cole. He added he believes the heifers he saw sell in Joplin will absolutely make producers some money in the seasons to come.

"We know that for the most part it takes a few years to recoup your investment in a bred female. One of the things the Show-Me-Select program has going for it is that we are doing the work to set these heifers up for success. They are bred to calving-ease bulls, they measure up on pelvic size, weight ... all the parameters of the program. The first year you have easier calving, and they breed back more quickly. Everything just falls into place."

Cole added the Show-Me-Select program has been a great educational tool, because even though everyone doesn't market through these sales, many have adopted some of the same practices for raising their own replacements.

As for why he believes last week's sale was such a success, he said it's pretty simple. "There's always someone with money, who likes cattle and has grass. It helps when you have a good corner on the market for quality commercial heifers too."

To see program requirements for Show-Me-Select heifers:…

Victoria Myers