MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas is a recognized global leader in the beef cattle sector – for the outstanding genetics and high-quality beef products. To help Kansas cattlemen leverage these strengths, the Sunflower Supreme Heifer program was created. Started in 2014, the Sunflower Supreme Replacement Heifer program is a joint effort between K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Agriculture. In the program’s second annual bred heifer sale on Nov. 13, 2015, in Parsons, Kan., cattle marketed brought a premium price for producers enrolled in the program. The average of 246 females sold through the sale was $2,417.
The low lot for the day brought $2,000 and the highest female sold for $3050. Animals bred through artificial insemination averaged $127 premium above natural service bred animals. In the current volatile cattle market producers were excited about the premiums that resulted in marketing their cattle through the program.
“We were very pleased with the turnout and prices for the sale this year,” said Lynne Hinrichsen, agribusiness development director at the Kansas Department of Agriculture. “Cattle prices haven’t held steady like many have hoped but we are proud to know that this program can bring premiums even in an unsteady market.”
The Sunflower Supreme program strives to provide research-based management protocols for beef cattle producers in Kansas who want to improve their management skills and marketability of heifers. The program aids producers in improving heifer selection and reproductive management practices to add long-term value to the state’s cattle industry. An added benefit for the producer enrolled is the marketing opportunities and premiums the program provides.
In the first year of the program, certified heifers marketed with a Sunflower Supreme tag brought $281 more than market price. Numbers are not yet available for this year.
Involvement in the program requires a series of required vaccinations, a breeding soundness exam, sire expected progeny differences and artificial insemination accuracies, a 60-day breeding season, pregnancy confirmation and that the cattle are negative for persistent infection of bovine viral diarrhea. Many cattle producers already practice most if not all of these management techniques; they only need to keep records to enroll cattle in the program.
“The Sunflower Supreme program is proving to help producers develop high quality replacement females,” said Jaymelynn Farney, K-State extension specialist who helps manage the program. “The management practices implemented through the program, along with 3rd party verification, provide producers a road-map for improving their management techniques and marketability of their heifers. It’s a win-win result for producers and buyers of the replacement females.”
For more information on the program including requirements and how to get involved visit sunflowersupreme.org.