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COLUMBIA — This fall’s Show-Me-Select heifer sales will offer spring-calving replacements to build herds for farmers needing heifers to replace old cows, or sold cows.

Recent declining profits and bad winters forced downsizing of the Missouri heifer supply.

Recent price upticks add optimism to beef outlooks.

Scott Brown, MU Extension livestock economist, said growing demand for quality beef lends optimistic outlooks for 2020 cattle prices.

“I see some crazy good price projections out there,” Brown said.

However, a lot depends on the growing foreign trade.

Other countries want high quality.

Brown said to watch price spreads for quality beef, USDA choice to prime grades.

“It’s quality that counts,” Brown said.

In a recent week, boxed-beef price for prime beef was $257 per hundredweight while select was $208.

That’s $49 more for quality.

Those prices work back to sales of feeder calves, but that takes farm records and marketing to capture gains.

Brown said that raising and selling calves isn’t enough.

Feedlot buyers learn farm reputations and bid more for quality calves.

Brown said it takes more than rounding them up and selling them as it takes management for producers to know their calf quality and market it.

“Missouri has advantages when it comes to beef quality,” Brown said.

Zac Erwin, MU Extension livestock specialist and Kirksville SMS sale manager, said bred heifers may be hard to find this year.

“Most producers bred fewer than last year due to low profits,” Erwin said.

Sale barn managers in his area say fewer bred heifers are being sold.

“They are selling about 30 percent compared to two or three years ago,” Erwin said. “As profits return, Show-Me-Select offers a chance to add top genetics to beef herds.”

The Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program, taught by MU Extension, adds genetics and proven management.

Bred heifers offered at the sales are from farmers enrolled in the SMS program.

Show-Me-Select adds calving ease to herds, which cuts death loss and labor at calving.

Along with improved heifers, the steermates improve carcass merit in SMS herds and sell for premium prices.

Brown said volatility in beef prices results from uncertainty on foreign trade.

China and Japan offer big potential for importing more beef, but trade deals are still in flux.

African swine fever losses in China play a part in beef demand.

Pork prices have gone up, which has related increases in beef demand.

USDA outlooks show potential for 3 million metric tons of beef to China, approaching almost a quarter of U.S. beef for next year.

The U.S. can compete with other countries for that demand.

The edge goes to U.S. beef quality.

Erwin said area beef farmers selling at the Kirksville Show-Me-Select sale picked their theme: “Prepare for the Future.”

Brown encourages Missouri beef producers to think ahead with a diminishing demand for select beef.

In his outlook talks, he adds there’s always uncertainty as no one knows future weather, diseases, trade deals or politics.

Lists of Show-Me-Select sales can be found at extension2.missouri.edu/programs/show-me-select-replacement-heifer-program.

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