Twenty-seven buyers of Show-Me-Select bred heifers at the November 2014 sale at Joplin Regional Stockyards have answered a University of Missouri Extension survey regarding the results they experienced with the SMS heifers they bought.
The surveys requested an actual date when their heifers calved. A calving ease score (1 to 5), a presentation rating (1 to 7), calf survival (1 to 5) and overall satisfaction score (1 to 3). Also, buyers may indicate other interesting notes related to their calving season.
The 27 responses were for 192 heifers that calved. This represents 37 percent of the heifers sold in the sale.
"We look at the data closely to see if there were unusual problems that might be corrected in the future," said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension. "The surveys began in 2004."
The 192 births went from December 27 to May 13. There was one born in December with 41 born in January, 87 in February, 45 in March, 15 in April and three were dropped in May.
The assist rate or calving ease uses a one as no assist; 2 hand pull; 3 mechanical puller used; 4 indicated a caesarean section. This group of heifers had 174 calves (91 percent) born unassisted.
Twelve were given a hand assist, and six calves were given mechanical assistance. Of those six, three were born on the same day at the same farm. The other five heifers from the same consignor, bred to the same sire, all calved unassisted. The AI, Angus bull has a 22 calving ease EPD with a .75 accuracy.
There were five calves buyers said were, "too big." No mention was made of the actual weight of those calves, but a couple estimated them at 90 pounds. Four of those five were out of AI sires with comfortable calving ease EPDs and accuracies.
"The survey asked for actual calving dates of the heifers. This is one of the bits of data that buyers appreciate. We know that heifers bred the same day, to the same bull and managed alike will not calve on the same day," said Cole.
Veterinarians do the early pregnancy check no later than 90 days into the pregnancy. At this age of the fetus, they should attain the highest accuracy when projecting the calving date. The use of ultrasound has improved the accuracy of the call.
There were 170 (88.5 percent) of the heifers that calved within 18 days of their expected date. Most of the heifers calved a few days earlier than expected. In fact, the average calving date was 6.2 days ahead of the projected date.
"The 88.5 percent accuracy was the highest we've had. Over the years, the average estimate by the veterinarians has been 84 percent within the 18-day window," said Cole.
Other notes from the survey indicated one heifer did not calve, one aborted and two heifers prolapsed and died. Three heifers were called bad disposition, and one calf was lost to a predator, probably a coyote, according to Cole.
"The survey shows the reality of being in the cattle business and calving out heifers. The weather was possibly a factor in the past calving season so far as death losses were concerned. Research shows that unusually cold weather in late gestation can increase calf birth weight," said Cole.
Buyers were asked their overall satisfaction was with the heifers. A one indicated they were very satisfied. A two showed they were satisfied while a three meant they were disappointed with that heifer as an SMS product.
"There were 154 head marked as very satisfied which is 80 percent of the 192 head. Twenty-six heifers were rated as satisfied, and only 11 heifers were marked as disappointments," said Cole.
The Show-Me-Select program has proven its merit since it began in 1997. The next survey attempt with the heifer development program is to glean the life-long benefits of the Show-Me-Select heifers. Longevity and retention in the breeding herd, of the heifers, will be examined.
For more information on the Show-Me-Select beef heifer development program is available online and can be found at http://agebb.missouri.edu/select.
Source: University of Missouri Extension