Abstract #408

# 408
The Missouri Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program: Improving heifer development practices and increasing technology utilization through economic incentives.
Jordan M. Thomas*1, Brianne E. Bishop1, Jillian M. Abel1, Jared E. Decker1, Scott E. Poock1, Douglas S. Brown1, Michael F. Smith1, David J. Patterson1, 1University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.

The Show-Me-Select Heifer Program has resulted in improvements in development programs for replacement beef heifers and increased utilization of technology among participating beef operations across Missouri. Enrollment of heifers in the program has increased steadily in recent years, from 3,020 heifers enrolled in 2010 to 5,867 heifers in 2014. Enrolled heifers undergo a prebreeding evaluation that includes pelvic measurement and a reproductive tract score (RTS). Producers may elect to expose heifers for breeding via AI or natural service (NS), and the proportion of heifers exposed for AI service has increased steadily. In 2010, 68% of enrolled heifers were exposed for AI rather than serviced exclusively with NS; whereas, AI serviced heifers accounted for 91% of enrolled heifers in 2014. Use of ultrasound (US), as opposed to palpation per rectum for pregnancy diagnosis, has also increased in the program. In 2010, 59% of heifers were diagnosed for pregnancy using US, increasing to 72% of heifers in 2014. Use of US facilitates a more accurate determination of whether a pregnancy resulted from AI or NS and may also allow for determinations of fetal sex. Lastly, differences in average sale price among Show-Me-Select heifers indicate a growing awareness among buyers of the value associated with genetically elite females. Heifers meeting the minimum requirements for enrollment are classified as Tier 1. Heifers may be further distinguished as Tier 2 if the sire of the heifer meets minimum accuracy requirements for specified traits at the time of sale, including: calving ease direct, calving ease maternal, weaning weight, carcass weight, and marbling. From 2010 to 2014, Tier 2 heifers carrying AI sired pregnancies ($2,279) sold on average for $213 more per heifer than Tier 1 heifers carrying NS sired pregnancies ($2,066). In summary, continued growth in the Show-Me-Select Heifer Program highlights the importance of economic incentives to drive technology utilization and improve heifer development practices statewide.

Key Words: heifer development, reproductive management, beef cattle