The Vests continue to raise cattle on a farm that has been in the family for generations

Edward Vest, the youngest of five children, and his wife Mary live in a beautiful home that has been in the Vest family since the 1880s.

Ed is superintendent of the Hermitage School District and Mary volunteers, when her health allows, at House of Hope in Bolivar. The couple has two sons, Garrett and Justin, and will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on July 30.

Mary is gathering the information necessary to nominate the farm for the Century Farm designation. “Every year when the peonies, iris, and other flowers bloom I feel a connection to the people who built the original part of our home and took the time to leave a legacy,” Mary said. “We are dedicated to maintaining and improving the land and the farm to honor those who came before us.”

Ed was in 4-H and FFA in high school and has a bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University and a master’s degree in agriculture education from the University of Missouri. He attained his principal’s certification and specialist degree for superintendent from Southwestern Baptist University.

Ed’s father, Charles, farmed 650 acres and raised polled Herefords.

Ed worked with Charles throughout his high school and college years and knew that he wanted to stay in farming.

“My father was known for the quality of his Herefords,” Ed said. “He held huge production sales here on the farm and they were always well attended. When the trend toward black cattle began to impact the market, my dad bought a homozygous black Simmental bull to cross with the Herefords. He was so impressed with the hybrid vigor, he bought another bull from the same breeder just before he passed away.”

Simmental is among the oldest and most widely distributed of all breeds of cattle in the world. The first herd book was established at the canton of Bern in 1806 but large, productive, red and white cattle are described as early as the Middle Ages in ecclesiastical and secular property records for western Switzerland. These Swiss cattle were sought after because of their rapid growth, outstanding milk production, and adaptability to many environments. The breed has spread to all six continents with between 40 and 60 million animals worldwide.

The American Simmental Association was formed in October 1968, and is celebrating 50 years of growth and development for the breed. The first purebred bull was imported in 1971. The ASA has developed the Simmental as a beef breed. To be registered as a purebred, an animal must be seventh-eighths Simmental.

American Simmental cattle are mostly black but any color or color pattern, including all black or red and spotted, are accepted.

Ed now farms 100 acres and raises purebred Simmental and Simmental/Angus cross cattle.

“I like the Simmental for a variety of reasons, including the fact that they have excellent growth, good maternal instincts, are thick topped with thick hindquarters, have good temperaments, are sound, and are low maintenance,” Ed said. “The cows do well on fescue and need very little grain to produce healthy calves. The Simmental/Angus cross cattle have excellent growth, mature quickly and are very popular with commercial breeders.”

“I have 35 cows, 13 bulls and 13 replacement heifers right now. I super ovulate my best cows, impregnate through AI, and then flush the embryos and implant them in both my own and other people’s herds. I either buy back the resulting calves or share them with the owners. I sell bred heifers, bulls and 10 to 15 show-quality calves every year. Most of my sales are by word of mouth, but I do advertise when I have animals like the young bulls ready to go.”

“Ed is really dedicated to keeping accurate records on all of his cattle,” Mary said with a smile. “He can tell you everything about an animal from memory but has herd books and registration information all over his office. He even halter breaks the show-quality calves, usually at weaning. Farming is Ed’s true calling and he is dedicated to producing the best animals possible.”

“I keep improving my genetic base and buy replacement heifers when I find animals that will improve my herd,” Ed said. “Right now, because of my work as superintendent, I am keeping my herd small and working to improve the land, fencing and buildings. In 10 years, after I have retired, my goals are to rent more land, continue to produce most of my own hay, and to have a much larger herd. I want to make even more improvements in my herd genetics and to be respected for the quality of my cattle.”

Because Ed and Mary work together to accommodate the schedule of a school superintendent and the demands of farming, it is clear that Ed will realize his goals.


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