“This technology explosion allows beef improvements not possible 10 years ago,” Patterson told the group at its educational meeting. “In the pipeline, genomic research is on the way from the University of Missouri.”
Adoption of research results slowed for many reasons, he said. One stumbling block was a fear that producers wouldn’t be paid for quality.
To lessen that fear, Patterson referred to the results of MU research in the Show-Me-Select Heifer Program, showing a chart of higher premiums paid for heifers bred with artificial insemination to proven high-accuracy sires. In the last year, those heifers, called Tier Two, sold for average premiums of $259 per head. Show-Me-Select heifers bred by bulls, most likely without accuracy records, received average premiums of $160.
“Premiums were added above prices that averaged almost $1,500 per heifer,” Patterson said. “Buyers of replacement heifers are learning the value of improved genetics. Once they see the results, they come back and pay more at the next sales.”
So far, emphasis has been on raising superior heifers. “Now we must ratchet up a notch,” Patterson said. “Marketing efforts will increase to collect added value from steer mates of those heifers.
This is not breed-specific. All breeds can adopt the ideas for improving their herds.”
Patterson told producers of expected increased interest in quality replacement heifers from buyers in Texas, Oklahoma and other states where ranchers have downsized herds in response to years of drought. “Once the drought breaks, they know where to find quality heifers,” he said. “But they are not rebuilding herds, yet.”
As producers learn the basics of improved reproductive management and herd health - and as demand for quality beef grows - the focus shifts to improving genetics.
Missouri producers outside of the Show-Me-Select program are adopting the protocols; many local veterinarians use what has been called the “Missouri Recipe” with all of their beef cow-calf clients. Other states are also asking for assistance in starting replacement heifer programs, Patterson said.
Patterson cited quality advances in the beef herd at Thompson Farm, which is part of MU’s Agricultural Experiment Station, a statewide system of research farms and centers. For three years at Thompson Farm, the calves fed out in Kansas have graded 100 percent choice or better and 31 percent graded prime. Those quality grades draw premium prices. Of those, 25 percent qualified also for Certified Angus Beef (CAB) premiums.
“Beef herds are profitable and the demand for high-quality beef is growing. However, producers must adopt new technology to be in business 20 to 30 years from now,” Patterson said.
Find more information about the Show-Me Select program at http://agebb.missouri.edu/select.
—University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group