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More Heifer Watchers than Bidders at Fruitland Show-Me-Select Sale

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The sale barn filled with more watchers than bidders for Show-Me-Select heifers at SEMO Livestock Sales, Fruitland, Dec. 7. Prices averaged $1,651 on 64 head. It was fourth of six fall sales.

“We were short on buyers,” said Erin Larimore, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, Jackson, Mo. “I think this reflects the general farm economy. Cash is tight.”

She noted that few out-of-state buyers arrived. In the past, producers from across state lines helped sales.

The good news is that 75 percent of the bred replacement heifers went to repeat buyers.

Dave Patterson, MU Extension beef specialist, noted that buyers returning to buy will help a sale. “They know what they are getting.”

All heifers sold in the Show-Me-Select sales are from farmers enrolled in the MU Extension heifer development program. Producers learn management and genetics.

Buyers at the sale get data on backgrounds and genetics for each heifer. A catalog made day of sale gives details on all consignments.

In the SEMO sale, two-thirds of heifers were bred by artificial insemination. AI breeding gives even small producers access to top sires in a breed. Also, heifers can be bred with fixed-time AI. That shortens calving season and makes uniform calf crops.

The AI-bred heifers averaged $1,645 while bull-bred heifers were $1,576.

All heifers come with improved calving ease. That requires both development and genetics. Repeat buyers like shorter, easier calving seasons.

Increasingly, data shows the sex of unborn calves. All heifers are sold guaranteed pregnant. Now ultrasound pregnancy checks can show whether the calf is heifer or bull.

Larimore guessed weather may have played a part at Fruitland. “Herd owners had a long, muddy winter last year. The mud started early this year. Feeding cows in mud already probably doesn’t help farmer attitudes.”

“We had lots of new faces in the crowd,” she said. “Whether they bid, buy or just learn, it’s a good thing.”

MU Extension specialists encourage beef herd owners to attend a Show-Me-Select sale as a learning lesson. Those who come early get to view heifers in the holding pens. Consignors are there to tell about their offerings.

Details on SMS heifers are at