September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"We are educating other people about our livestock and how we take care of our cattle," Barb Kimm said.
Brian and Barb Kimm were recently recognized as the 2013 Clay County Farm Family of the Year. They farm together with their son, Daniel (21), on their farm where they milk 85 cows in a tiestall barn near Pelican Rapids, Minn.
"It's a nice recognition for the things we do everyday," Brian said. "It's neat. I remember my parents getting this years ago."
Brian and Barb lease dairy cattle to six 4-Hers, providing them with the opportunity to experience dairy farming first hand.
"We help them with their cattle and watch them show at the state fair," Barb said. "The kids learn to clip and care for their animals."
The Kimms see this not only as a learning opportunity for showing dairy but to learn more about how dairy farmers take care of their cows.
"The kids who lease from us are able to spread that positive message to their friends in town," Barb said. "They can share their first hand experience of how we care for our animals."
Barb is also active with the shooting sports program in 4-H, serving as a coach, hosting shooting practices near the farm during the winter and spring until the crops are in, and was a leader for the shooting sports committee.
"A lot of the kids in shooting sports are also kids who lease dairy from us," Barb said. "I do a lot with 4-H."
The Kimms also host dairy judging practices and classes for the University of Minnesota-Crookston and North Dakota State University.
When Brian isn't busy with chores, he is active on the Clay County American Dairy Association and the West Ottertail DHIA boards.
"The input from the guys on the farm is important," Brian said. "That's why I am in these organizations, to provide that input."
Brian's grandparents, Benjamin and Magna Kimm, purchased the farm in 1959. The barn's roof had many holes in it, and broken windows, but it didn't stop them from beginning their dairy farm.
"It's what they could afford," Brian said.
Benjamin and Magna cleaned it up and started milking their 25 Guernsey cows in the stanchion barn.
By 1963, Brian's parents, Frank and Dianne Kimm, took over the farm. In 1968, they added onto the barn making room for 44 cows.
Three years after adding on, a fire claimed the building. But Frank and Dianne were determined to continue dairy farming, so they rebuilt the barn for 44 cows as a tiestall barn instead of a freestall and parlor.
"We wanted to have more individual care for the cows," Brian said. "One person could do chores without moving cattle."
The Kimms have continued to add onto the barn and are now milking 85 cows.
Brian's decision to return to the family farm was an easy one for him.
"There wasn't anything else I was interested in doing," Brian said. "I liked working with the cows."
Before Brian decided to farm with his dad, he attended the University of Minnesota-Waseca campus to major in dairy production.
While attending school, Brian occasionally milked cows at Bruce and Mary Larson's Guernsey farm near Claremont, Minn., and worked at Level Gold farm in Wisconsin as part of the program at UM-W. He also met Barb while attending school.
Barb and Brian were married in 1986 and Brian started working on a wage basis with his father for a year before going into partnership in 1987.
"I gave it a year," Brian said. "I wanted see where it went and if it was where I wanted to be."
In 1992, Brian and Frank started to move away from the Guernseys their family had been milking and started purchasing Brown Swiss. The also dabbled with crossbreeding.
"The culling was high and the production wasn't going up," Brian said. "I saw what crossbreeding did for some of my friends, so we purchased some crossbreds from the University of Minnesota experiment station in Grand Rapids, Minn."
The crosses they had purchased were Guernsey-Holsteins crosses, so the Kimms decided to try breeding one of their Guernseys to a Brown Swiss bull and the results were more than the Kimms expected.
"That heifer was way above herd average," Brian said. "We thought we needed to do more of this."
With Holstein-Guernsey crosses already at home, the Kimms tried a different approach.
"We hedged our bets and did some crossbreeding with Brown Swiss and Holsteins," Brian said.
The Kimms continued to cross breed using Holstein, Brown Swiss, Montbeliarde and Swedish Red.
The herd currently consists of two-thirds registered Brown Swiss and one-third crossbreds. It is also home to one of the top Progressive Performance Ranking Brown Swiss in the country.
In 2002, the Kimms installed automatic take-offs on their milking units.
"It made milking easier. I can milk with six units with the take-offs easier than milking with four units without," Brian said. "Our somatic cell count went down, too. This summer we were between 50,000 and 60,000."
In 2006, Brian and Barb purchased the farm from Frank.
This past spring, Frank, who was still an essential part of the farm, passed away, but now Brian and Barb's son, Daniel (21), has returned to take over the fieldwork, and equipment repairs that Frank had done while also helping with the dairy herd.
"This opportunity opened up and he's trying it," Barb said. "He has immensely improved his confidence and is learning the new routine."
"He's adjusting well and seems to like it," Brian said.
The Kimms have two other sons, Jason (35), a fireman and paramedic in Kansas City, Kan., and Benjamin (24), who is in the Army National Guard and recently married this past spring.
As the Kimms continue to dairy farm, they are proud to be where they are.
"We love working with the cows and watching the animals grow up and the cow families grow," Barb said. "We are grateful for what we are doing."[[In-content Ad]]
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