The Missouri Show-Me-Select (SMS) Beef Heifer Development Program is an excellent example of a program designed to add value to a good heifer or yearling. 

“If you sell her as a feeder, weighing around 600 to 650 pounds she’ll bring around $850 to $900 per head, based on late January, southwest Missouri markets,” said Eldon Cole, field specialist in livestock with University of Missouri Extension.

If that heifer is put on the SMS program she would be on-target to sell at the November, 2019 bred heifer sale at Joplin Regional. 

“It’s anyone’s guess what a late second or third stage heifer will sell for in November. Based on 20-plus years of selling SMS heifers, they average the equivalent value of two, 550 lb. steer calves the week of the sale. Based on the market today that would value the average bred heifer at $1700,” said Cole.

The projected sale price of the bred heifer depends a lot on cattle market trends and rainfall between now and November.  There are development costs to factor in also. 

According to Cole, those costs are difficult to consider unless you are a better than average record keeper. 

The 2019 University of Missouri Budget estimated total cost per head per day, excluding calf price, is $1.84. From Feb. 1 to the November sale date is 290 days which amounts to $535 development cost.  This considers the following:  hay and pasture; corn, protein and mineral supplements; labor (5 hours at $13.43/hour); veterinary, drugs and supplies; marketing charge; breeding costs; utilities and machinery costs; livestock facility repairs; miscellaneous; interest.

“Of course, when all costs are tallied up and the value of the heifer is added to it you can figure out roughly what added value you’ll make for planning purposes. Our SMS sale will always have some wide ranges in sale price depending on who the owner is and what their reputation is from past sales,” said Cole.

Breed and size of the heifer is also a big consideration as is whether she was artificially bred to an outstanding bull, whether she is genomically tested and is she a Tier Two SMS heifer.

The SMS program is designed to add value to both home-raised and purchased heifers.  Persons wishing to sell in the November, 2019 sale need to contact their regional extension livestock specialist soon to qualify.

All SMS heifers must be calfhood vaccinated for brucellosis before they are one year-of-age.  That is one practice many cow-calf raisers have ceased to do but it still is required for SMS heifers.

The initial work for SMS is to do the pre-breeding exam about four to six weeks prior to the beginning of the breeding season. Veterinarians familiar with tract scoring and pelvic measuring should be used. 

At the same time, the MU Extension livestock specialist should be present to do the “paper work” and examine the candidates for blemishes or problems that would eliminate her from the program. 

The charge for enrolling heifers in the SMS program is $5 per heifer plus a $25 annual membership fee for the owner in the SMS association.

Weights on the heifers are optional but can be very helpful according to Cole.

As a rule most heifers weigh 600 to 800 lbs. at prebreeding. Heifers can be too fat and a Body Condition Score (BCS) of 6 is about ideal.  If the heifers end up in the sale they must weight at least 800 lbs. in mid-November and be at least a 5, preferably a 6 BCS.

“Producers who regularly develop heifers for SMS have found this to be an effective way to add value to nice heifers. Even if you don’t go all the way with SMS certification the basic requirements should be followed with your veterinarian inspection, etc,” said Cole.

For additional information contact the University of Missouri Extension field specialist – livestock nearest you or contact Eldon Cole at 417-466-3102.