Farm Talk

Front page stories

May 1, 2013

Sunflower Supreme program revealed to southeast Kansas

Parsons, Kansas — Over 200 area farmers and ranchers gathered in southeast Kansas last week for the unveiling of a new heifer development and management program that the Kansas Department of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension are joining forces to develop for Kansas producers.

Similar to Missouri’s Show-Me-Select program, the purpose of the Sunflower Supreme Heifer Development and Management Program is to provide knowledge, guidance and tools to assist beef producers in improved reproductive performance of replacement heifers and in turn increase cow longevity within a herd. The improvements will occur as a result of the adoption of effective protocols and successfully utilizing available technologies and genetic tools.

With expanded collaboration between producers, Extension and local veterinarians, this program will add value and additional revenue to southeast Kansas cowherds and provide quality replacement heifers to increase the demand for Kansas cattle.

Thad Giger, Kansas Department of Agriculture said they were looking for things to change in order to add value to southeast Kansas.

“I believe this program is a great idea. Not only is this a program that will add value to bred heifers, but to retained heifers as well,” he continued.

Dr. Jaymelynn Farney, southeast area beef systems specialist presented all in attendance with a draft of the Sunflower Supreme guidelines.

“The purpose of sharing the draft to everyone now, is so the program can be looked at from all angles and we get the bugs worked out before it’s official launch in October,” she said.  


The first requirement of the Sunflower Supreme is to be a resident of the state of Kansas. To be enrolled in the program, producers must do so by either of the two enrollment deadlines — February 1 or October 1. The kickoff date for Sunflower Supreme will be October 1, 2013.

According to Farney, “producers who raise their own heifers should choose the date closest to  weaning, and producers who purchase heifers should enroll at the date closest to the time of purchase.”

Anyone choosing to be in the program must notify their county Extension agent and pay a $20 annual membership fee before their heifers can be enrolled.

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification is required of all participants.

“Producers can access BQA training through their local Extension office free of charge, or by completing the training online for $25,” Farney said.

Certification numbers will be used as a form of identification.

Ownership & Vaccination

“Heifers must be raised on your operation,” Farney emphasized. “All heifers purchased must be done so 60 days before breeding season begins.”

Purchased heifers must have an affidavit including approximate birth dates and the name and address of the original breeder, as well as documentation of vaccination and booster for IBR, BVD, PI3, BRSV, Leptospirosis, Vibriosis/Campylobacter and 7-way Clostridia administered at weaning.

Farney stressed the importance of making sure all heifers have the Bangs vaccine.

“Bangs vaccination isn’t required for the state of Kansas, but some states require it for moving cattle across state lines. If we are wanting to put ourselves at the forefront, then we need to take these extra steps,” she explained.

Breeding Guidelines

The list is lengthy for Sunflower Supreme’s guidelines for breeding. Among these, individual animal identification and polled/horned identification. Others not required, but strongly suggested are a pre-breeding evaluation and a breeding soundness exam completed by a veterinarian.

“Double check that the bulls you are going to use meet the requirements of their breed association as well as the program’s calving ease requirements,” Farney advised.

Regardlesss of use of natural service sires or Artificial Insemination (A.I.), the breeding season can only be a total of 60 days. A.I. sires must have a minimum accuracy of 0.60 within the year used. Heifers must not be exposed for natural service for a minimum of 14 days after being artifical inseminated. All sires must also be approved by a local Extension agent prior to use.

Sale Eligibility

Heifers not enrolled at pre-breeding are not eligible for the sale. All bred heifers will be sold on a per head basis.

Horns and scurs must be removed and completely  healed by sale. Parasites — internal and external — must be treated for within 30 days of the sale. To ensure heifers have been treated, a copy of the wormer receipt must be presented to the Extension agent upon certification.

Physical blemishes such as pinkeye, scars from pinkeye, rat-tails, bob-tails, frozen ears or other deformities will disqualify heifers from the sale. Heifers must also have a body condition score between 5 and 7 on a 9-point scale.

“Only heifers that meet all the requirements will be eligible for the Sunflower Supreme program,” Farney said.

“Contact your local county Extension agent if you have any questions about this program or to enroll your operation,” she concluded. £

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