Missouri's spring series of Show-Me-Select replacement heifer sales is almost over, with the last one set for June 4, 2022, at F&T Livestock Market in Palmyra. Comparing 2022 sales results so far with those from 2021, the replacement market here seems mostly stable.
Anita Ellis, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist and central region coordinator for the replacement heifer program, reported this year's May 20 sale at Vienna's South Central Regional Stockyard brought together a full house of buyers, but noted the outcome might not have been all that was hoped for.
Bidding was lively, she said, adding that "with the market being pretty topsy-turvy it can be easy to get discouraged."
In that sale, 167 heifers were offered (more than the 159 head offered in 2021 at that same sale). The average price per head came in at $1,829 (in 2021, it was $1,961). The high price this year was set at $2,100 per head (in 2021, it was $2,400).
This lower-price point was also seen at spring sales at Fruitland and Farmington. At Fruitland's SEMO Livestock Sales, LLC, 138 heifers sold for an average of $2,049 each and a max of $3,000. In 2021, that sale brought 108 heifers, with an average price of $2,067 per head, and a max of $3,750. And at the Farmington Regional Stockyards this year, 158 head sold for an average of $1,708 each and a max of $2,200. Last year that sale had 131 head, with an average price of $1,862 and a max of $2,900.
Rick Little, who has a cattle operation based at Eldon, Missouri, said he has been in the Show-Me-Select program for several years now. He believes there is value in selling heifers through the program that would not be captured if they went to the feedlot. But it's more than return on investment that makes the program important, said Little in a press release from the University of Missouri.
"You've got to look to the future," the cattleman noted. "The program has strict protocols to go by ... vaccination programs, pelvic measurements and so forth. It just allows you to buy heifers that have been checked and gives them a degree of uniformity. The people that are buying these heifers are purchasing a premium product. And by buying a premium product, it should enhance their herd too."
Specialist Ellis reported that more producers continue to get involved in the Show-Me-Select program. "It's really perpetuating those phenotypes and genetics that these producers have worked so hard for," she said.
SALES THAT TRENDED HIGHER
In two spring sales, the ones held at Kingsville Regional Stockyards May 21, and the Joplin Regional Stockyards May 20, number of available heifers was down compared to 2021. Prices in these sales were mostly higher.
In the 2022 Kingsville sale, 115 head were offered for sale, compared to 138 last year. Average price this year was $1,895 ($1,973 in 2021), with the high set at $2,950 ($2,400 in 2021).
In the 2022 sale at the Joplin Regional Stockyards, 223 head were offered, compared to 256 last year. Average price this year was $1,913 ($1,751 in 2021), with the high set at $3,100 ($2,400 in 2021).
Asked if the difference in price points was due to number of head offered at the different sales, Jordan Thomas told DTN he didn't believe that to be the case. He is a beef cow-calf specialist with the University of Missouri.
Thomas said that even where prices have been lower compared to 2021, demand is not softer. He said this is more a case where national cattle market fundamentals are sending some mixed messages.
"Market fundamentals around the country are really interesting right now for females," said Thomas. "There is not a lot of optimism in the cattle market, and a lot of that is being driven by high input costs right now for things like fertilizer, fuel, and feed. You combine all of this with the herd reductions we are seeing in the West, and not enough rainfall to support restocking, and we see this female market being influenced by national patterns, not just regional ones.
"I would not draw any conclusions from the sale patterns we've seen so far," he added. "I've attended several Show-Me-Select sales and we have seen repeat consignors who have built strong reputations continue to do quite well."
MARKET WILL GET TIGHTER
Thomas' thoughts about how inflation and drought are affecting the female market coincide with points in an earlier report from DTN editors on the cattle market. That article, "Drought-Hit Cattle Producers' Year May Already Be Done," reported that on a national level herd liquidation is continuing, driven in many areas by ongoing drought.
Oklahoma State University's livestock marketing specialist Derrell Peel told DTN that if drought continues, the industry is not done with herd liquidation yet. He added that due to high input costs right now, many producers who could expand won't do so this year.
"The way it looks right now, I believe we will see additional culling," Peel said earlier this month. "There just aren't the resources needed to hold onto the cows in many areas right now. As for the replacements, we didn't start with a large inventory of them this year. I think that number gets tighter as we move forward."
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The last Show-Me-Select sale of the spring run will be held June 4 at Palmyra's F&T Livestock Market. For more information on that sale, the program, or requirements for consignors go to: https://extension.missouri.edu/…
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