Farm and Field

Show-Me-Select program boosts testing rules

Posted: Sep. 9, 2018 12:45 am

New sire selection rules for Show-Me-Select replacement heifers improve reliable calving-ease genetics.

"Bulls used in the heifer program will carry DNA-tested EPDs (expected progeny differences)," University of Missouri Extension geneticist Jared Decker said.

The rules, effective Feb. 1, 2019, were set by the SMS governing board of farmers.

"DNA tests add reliability to EPDs for selecting herd bulls," Decker said.

Bulls for pasture-breeding heifers will carry genomic-enhanced EPDs. In the past, EPDs were based on pedigree and production tests. "Now GE EPDs combine DNA, pedigree and production data into a single tool," Decker said.

With DNA tests, EPDs result from checking blood drops, tissue samples or hair root bulbs. Blood or tissue tests are preferred, Decker said. A one-time test adds data on young bulls equal to years of production testing, and it lasts a lifetime.

Bulls bought before Feb. 1 will be grandfathered in, but those bulls must get GE EPDs by Feb. 1, 2020.

Seedstock producers advertising their bulls as "Show-Me-Select qualified" draw more bidders.

"Genomic testing adds EPD predictability and reliability. That cuts risks," Decker said. "We know this adds cost to market registered bulls, but time is right for change."

Since 2010, cost of DNA testing fell from $150 to $37.

Show-Me-Select sales show repeat buyers bid more for added genetic data. "Seedstock producers provide this as more customer service," Decker said.

Herd owners join SMS through county MU Extension centers. More information is available online at

Boosting low-quality forage

Livestock producers can stretch short supplies of hay this year by using a simple ammonia treatment on bales.

University of Missouri Extension agronomist Rusty Lee said ammoniation boosts the nutritive value of poor-quality hay and makes it more digestible for cows and horses. With proper ammoniation, the nutritional value of hay, cornstalks and straw can improve significantly, even double, at a reasonable cost.

Lee said it is important to ammoniate only poor-quality hay. Higher-quality grass hay can become toxic with nitrates after ammonia treatment and cause "crazy cow" syndrome when fed. Use a maximum rate of 50 pounds of anhydrous ammonia per ton of straw to avoid nitrate issues.

The process takes one week to one month, depending on temperature. If the temperature is 85 degrees or higher, one week is recommended. Treat two to three weeks in milder temperatures and up to four weeks when temperatures fall.

Follow these steps:

º Stack round bales in a pyramid so the covering will shed rainfall.

º Cover with 6 mil thick black plastic, the kind used to cover silage pits.

º Plastic sheeting should completely cover the stack with sufficient length to cover edges with soil or lime. Tamp soil down to create an airtight seal.

º Fill the ammonia tank with only the amount required for the stack being treated. This will avoid the risk of overtreating.

º Air out bales three days before feeding to allow the ammonia to clear, but do not uncover in windy weather. Air out before testing forage to check improvement.