September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Meant to milk cows

Christy Borth runs the show on 60-cow dairy
Christy Borth pushes up feed in the freestall barn. Christy started milking her own cows after working at Meadowlark Dairy near Wadena, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY MISSY MUSSMAN
Christy Borth pushes up feed in the freestall barn. Christy started milking her own cows after working at Meadowlark Dairy near Wadena, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY MISSY MUSSMAN

By by Missy Mussman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

MENAHGA, Minn. - When Christy Borth milked her first dairy cow, she knew there was no other lifestyle for her.
"Once I started milking cows, I knew I was meant to do it," Christy said. "I enjoyed it."
Christy is now running her own dairy farm where she milks nearly 60 cows in a double-4 herringbone parlor with the help of her husband, Daran, and their children, Derek (17) and Dustin (14), in Becker County near Menahga, Minn.
Christy was introduced to the dairy industry in the early 1990s when she started working for Meadowlark Dairy in Wadena, Minn.
In 1992, Christy and Daran, who was in the Marine Corps at the time, were married, and Christy had completed her first year at Vermillion Community College with hopes to earn a degree in natural resource law enforcement there.
"I went to work at Meadowlark and never went back to school," Christy said.
Christy learned to milk cows in a double-8 herringbone parlor and spent almost 10 years working for the 300-cow dairy farm.
"I learned a lot from them," Christy said. "I loved working with the cows and doing something different everyday."
While Christy was working at the dairy farm in Wadena, Daran left the Marines in 1994 and started working as a master plumber at Alexandria Technical and Community College in Alexandria, Minn. After working for the school, he soon became a student in the law enforcement program.
By 1998, Christy and Daran purchased their own place near Menahga while she was still working for Meadowlark Dairy.
When they purchased the site, there was only a house, loafing shed and hay shed on the place. With Christy's love for dairy cows, she had plans to make changes to the farm in hopes of eventually milking cows.
"We were kind of planning to milk on our own," Christy said. "We wanted a smaller dairy farm."
In 2001, Christy and Daran started building a single-4 herringbone parlor and a milk house on their farm.
That same year, the Borths purchased 10 cows from Meadowlark Dairy. Since the facilities were not ready at the time on their own farm, they milked the cows at the 300-cow farm while Christy and Daran were getting things set up in Menahga.
The Borths also bought 10 head of Brown Swiss milk cows from a herd in South Dakota and 10 more Holsteins from Meadowlark Dairy.
"We have grown the herd numbers internally since then," Christy said.
After using the single-4 parlor for nearly a year, they decided to add onto the parlor with the herd continuing to grow in 2002.
"We were not able to get the other half of the parlor from the place we purchased it from," Christy said.
Daran found a double-8 herringbone parlor in South Dakota with eight weigh jars and brought it home. They used four stalls and all eight weigh jars from the new parlor and turned their single-4 into a double-4 herringbone parlor.
With Daran working full time as a police officer, and the children at school, they wanted to make sure the set up was just right for Christy.
"It's set up so it's easy for one person to do everything," Christy said.
Currently, the Borths milk their cows twice a day. The cows are out on pasture most of the day, but are fed in a bedded pack barn twice a day.
Each morning, Christy is in the barn by 7:30 to milk the cows, mix the feed and feed the cows and calves. By 10:30 a.m. she is back in the house for a short break. She then starts working on any fieldwork or other chores that need to be done.
"I do a lot of fieldwork except combining and planting," Christy said. "Those are Daran's jobs."
Christy and Daran grow 450 acres of corn, oats, barley, alfalfa and rye.
"We do mainly small grains because they are more suitable for our area," Daran said.
Daran does work full time as a police officer, but helps Christy when he can. His main duties include fixing equipment and doing any chores the boys don't get finished.
Christy leaves the evening feed mixing, alley scraping and bedding the cows for her boys to do unless they have something else on their schedules.
"It depends on the day," Christy said.
However, Christy likes to leave as little for Derek, Dustin and Daran to do as possible.
"I like to get most everything done," Christy said, "When we are all home together, I want to have some family time outside of the barn."
Since Christy started milking her own cows, she and her family have continued to improve their farm.
The second summer after starting to milk cows, the Borths put in an irrigator for their pastures.
"Now we are trying to get it set up with the irrigator where the fences don't have to move," Christy said. "We haven't figured it out yet."
Christy is also working towards transitioning the dairy farm to organic.
"I needed more of a challenge," Christy said about the transition.
They installed a manure pit about five years ago and even added misters above the feed alley in the bedded pack barn.
"It's cheap but it works for us," Christy said about the misters.
All this work helped the Borths to be voted the Becker County Conservationists of the Year recently.
"It made us feel good about what we are doing to try to improve the farm," Christy said.
Christy's passion for the dairy farm has been passed onto Derek, who plans to return and help manage the farm within five years.
"I want to come back," Derek said. "I like caring for the cows and planting crops."
For Christy, having Derek express interest in taking over the farm is something she has hoped for.
"I wanted to leave something for my kids," Christy said. "It's a great way to raise a family."
Daran has seen how hard his wife works and is very proud of all she has accomplished.
"If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't be milking cows," Daran said. "It takes a special person to do this everyday, twice a day. It's a way of life."
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