The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) presented Vest Ranches the BIF Commercial Producer of the Year Award June 9 during the group’s annual meeting and symposium online. This national award is presented annually to a producer to recognize their dedication to improving the beef industry at the commercial level.
Vest Ranches is a commercial Angus and Charolais ranch near Childress, Texas. In 1887, Bill Vest ventured to the rough country of West Texas to homestead and run cattle. More than 130 years later, Samann Vest-Watkins and her husband Ty, continue to battle climate and weather to produce high-performing cattle. Vest Ranches employ a variety of programs and systems to help their cow herd survive and thrive in the tough landscape.
Samann is the fourth generation of Vests to raise cattle in West Texas. Severe drought in 2011 tested their resiliency, but the couple was able to adjust and continue to improve despite the conditions. The Vest Ranch herd has rebuilt to 1,200 head of commercial Angus and Charolais cattle who work hard without sacrificing condition and productivity.
A unique feeding program, 75-day breeding season, December calving and management of limited forage and water resources, all while improving rangelands and wildlife habitat, set Vest Ranches apart from others. Short-term goals of the ranch include yearly improved calf carcass quality, improved breeding and calving percentages, tightened heifer selection criteria, 50-55% body weight at weaning, improved understanding and ability to turn data into information in a timely manner, and improved docility in the herd. More long-term goals include continuously improving matings, grade 100% Prime, pass on a profitable and functional ranch to the fifth generation, and reduce cow size to 1,250 lb. consistently.
Vest Ranches is a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the National Cutting Horse Association and the American Quarter Horse Association. Locally, Samann and Ty are 32-year members of First Baptist Church of Monahans, which Samann’s great-grandmother helped establish in 1900; and Ty currently serves on the Childress County Appraisal District Agricultural Advisory Board and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Advisory Board, Mule Deer Advisory Committee. Vest Ranches was co-nominated by the American Angus Association and American-International Charolais Association.
To date, more than 1,200 beef producers, academia and industry representatives have registered to participate in the organization’s 52nd Annual Research Symposium — Online. BIF’s mission is to help improve the industry by promoting greater acceptance of beef cattle performance evaluation.
For more information about this year’s symposium, including additional award winners and coverage of meeting and tours, visit BeefImprovement.org/symposium.