MU Show-Me-Select program had successful 2023

A set of six heifers consigned by Greg Tharp of Naylor, Mo., selling at the Show-Me-Select heifer sale at Farmington Regional Stockyards in 2022. (Photo courtesy of University of Missouri.)

By Julie Harker
University of Missouri

University of Missouri Extension’s Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program had a successful year in 2023 for both buyers and sellers, even with some impact on fall sales from drought.

The fall 2023 sale season wrapped up with 928 Show-Me-Select heifers marketed through six sanctioned sale locations with gross sales of $2,544,825.

“While much of the state was plagued by drought and an unstable market moving into the fall, statewide marketings rose 9% compared to 2022, while average Show-Me-Select heifer sale prices rose a little more than 20%, year over year,” said MU Extension livestock specialist Zac Erwin. “This speaks to the reputation of the program that buyers and sellers continue to look at this as the gold standard for heifer development throughout Missouri.”

For example, the east-central Missouri Show-Me-Select sale at Farmington continued to have steady consignment numbers in addition to a new producer selling heifers in the fall 2023 sale, said MU Extension livestock specialist Kendra Graham.

“That producer has been completing all the requirements for the program for several years but never officially enrolled until now,” Graham said. “A couple that capitalized on the marketing portion of the Show-Me-Select program sold 22 head and snagged the second-highest consignor average in the fall sale at Farmington.”

A total of 131 heifers averaging $2,599 per head sold Dec. 8 at Farmington Regional Stockyards.

“Heifer sale consignments for the fall 2023 sale were lower compared to the number enrolled in the spring,” said Graham. “Drought conditions and lack of winter hay prompted producers to sell older/lower-productive cows and kept the young heifers to replace them rather than selling in the sale. Cattle prices were very unstable in December, causing later Show-Me-Select sales to average less than those sales held in November 2023.”

John Wheeler, a former cow/calf producer in Marionville, has been with the Show-Me-Select program since 2001.

“(Late MU Extension livestock specialist) Eldon Cole was a major factor in helping me learn from the program,” Wheeler said. “I had my second-best sale this past fall, earning $3,500 per head on average. It’s a good program—you’ve got to stay in it through thick and thin. Start with good-quality heifers and stand behind those you sell. Repeat buyers are a big part of my business growth.” Wheeler set a goal at the beginning for how much he’d make with the program. He said he’s now tripled that goal.

Patrick Davis, MU Extension livestock specialist based in southwestern Missouri, said, “Our numbers were lower than normal due to lots of reasons, but our average was pretty high. Compared to the previous fall sale, we sold about half the number of heifers, but the average was $813 higher per heifer. You could attribute some of that increased average price to supply and demand, but I think you must attribute some of that to the current high cattle market.”

Erwin said, “While total demand might have been slightly less due to feed shortages, heifers that were high-quality and bred for an acceptable calving period found great demand. Buyers knew what they wanted, and when they found it were willing to bid up in price to take them home. Quality is always an easy sell, even in a tough market environment. Repeat consignors are rewarded by repeat buyers.”

The Show-Me-Select program, which uses the latest research on health, nutrition, genetics and reproductive science to ensure Missouri producers are national leaders in providing quality beef, has a big impact on Missouri’s economy, according to Thiago Martins, MU Extension state beef reproduction specialist.

“By 2021, more than 900 Missouri farms were enrolled, and heifers were sold to buyers in more than 21 states,” Martins said.

The program focuses on Missouri’s farmers and relies on active participation from regional extension livestock specialists and local veterinarians.

Key components of Show-Me-Select:

  • Improved heifer development programs through a Total Quality Management strategy.
  • Increased marketing opportunities and added value for Missouri-raised heifers.
  • Creation of reliable sources of quality replacement heifers based on management, reproduction and genetics.

Show-Me-Select is now enrolling producers for 2024. If interested, contact one of the regional coordinators listed on the SMS website or your local livestock specialist for information on upcoming regional meetings and program requirements to participate. Spring sales are being planned. Learn more at

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