Joplin heifer sale adds quality but bidders remained reluctant

  • Published: Monday, Nov. 19, 2018

COLUMBIA, Mo. – “It was a great night to be a buyer,” Eldon Cole said after the Southwest Missouri Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer sale.

Average price on 311 heifers was $1,586. That’s almost $200 per head below Cole’s prediction. The University of Missouri livestock specialist has managed 39 heifer sales. He knows well-managed heifers and what they bring to buyers.

The Nov. 16 sale at Joplin Regional Stockyards was the first round of six sales this fall. All heifers are from farmers enrolled in an MU Extension program. MU protocols improve calving ease and genetics. The results bring more live calves and more calves grading USDA choice at packing plants.

Cole works a formula predicting SMS heifer prices based on steer prices. History shows one average SMS heifer brings what two feeder steers sell for locally. This year it took 1.79 steers to buy a bred heifer.

“The quality of heifers was excellent,” Cole said. The sale catalog showed 131 heifers ranked Show-Me-Plus. Those have genetic tests showing their potential.

As usual, longtime consignors build reputations. Their calves sell for top prices.

For example, John Wheeler, Marionville, has sold in sales from the start. He brings quality black baldies. This year he took home the biggest total. His top lot of five brought $1,900. His wife, Kathy, topped the sale with a pen of three averaging $2,100.

Two consignors had top lots at $2,000 each. Tony Friga, Pomona, had a top pen of four head. Sam Schaumann, Billings, had a top pen of three head.

Cole noted that buyers bid more for heifers bred artificially. Even in a down market, AI heifers brought an added average of $190.

After the sale, people asked why bidding was slow.

Weather got some blame for spoiling bidder optimism. Drought-shorted forage lingers in minds.

Many thought they had enough hay, Cole said. That is, until early snow started early feeding. “When they put out hay, the cattle ‘inhaled’ it. Now they’re not sure they have enough.”

Another factor is low prices for cull cows. Those who downsized in the drought didn’t get much cash, not enough to buy replacements.

“The crowd was as big as ever,” Cole said. “They seemed upbeat, but there’s uncertainty about the winter ahead.”

Next sale dates and places are:

  • Nov. 24, 11 a.m., Kingsville Livestock Auction.
  • Dec. 1, 11 a.m., SEMO Livestock Sales, Fruitland.
  • Dec. 7, 7 p.m., Farmington Livestock Sales.
  • Dec. 8, 12:30 p.m., F&T Livestock Market, Palmyra.

Sales are run by local herd owners enrolled at MU Extension. Missouri herd owners can join through regional livestock specialists. No out-of-state consignors allowed. Buyers welcomed from anywhere.

Sales are broadcast online at www.LiveAuctions.TV.

Research supporting sales comes from MU Thompson Farm, Spickard. It’s part of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Writer: Duane Dailey

Media Contact

Eldon Cole
417-466-3102

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