May 31, 2022 at 3:04 p.m.
PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. – Mastering a farm’s genetics for their breed of choice is different for everyone. For Brian and Barbara Kimm, it is productive cows that last in the herd and have a wide variety of genetic potential that suite their fancy.
The Kimms are the third generation on their farm, milking 85 cows in a tiestall barn and farming 540 acres near Pelican Rapids. They are one of three remaining dairy farms in Clay County, but have far-reaching influence in the industry.
The Kimms were named a 2021 Minnesota PDCA Distinguished Breeder along with Stacey and Todd Leiding from Fountain; Clover Glen Farm from Claremont; and Wayne and Kris Houdek from Caledonia at the Minnesota PDCA luncheon during the Minnesota All-Breeds Convention March 11 in Willmar.
“It was very humbling they thought enough of what we are doing out here to recognize it,” Brian said.
The Kimms, while focusing on having quality cattle, have received recognition from the Brown Swiss Association for a variety of accomplishments. The Kimms were the 2020 BSA Protein Genetic Honor Herd Award winner, have been a BSA Genetic Honor Herd for over 10 years and had the No. 1 Progressive Performance Rank Brown Swiss in the U.S. for three years.
Currently, the herd is averaging a 4.1% milk fat and 3.4% protein content with an average 75,000 somatic cell count.
While the Kimms are receiving recognition for their Brown Swiss herd, the family owned a Guernsey herd 30 years ago.
“I grew up with Guernseys,” Brian said. “We got to the point where the genetic base was getting narrow, and our purebred cattle weren’t sticking around long enough.”
Then, came the Brown Swiss in 1992.
There was a young 4-H member who showed dairy and needed a place to house his Brown Swiss cattle. The Kimms’ barn had a few extra stalls at the time, and they offered to help the young man.
After the person’s 4-H career was over, the Kimms purchased the Brown Swiss cattle and began incorporating those genetics into their dairy herd.
This positive experience with the Brown Swiss breed piqued the Kimms’ interest and influenced their decision to begin crossbreeding their cattle with Brown Swiss.
Today, about 85% of the herd is registered Brown Swiss.
“(Brown) Swiss are pretty mellow and generally easy to work with,” Brian said. “We don’t like to keep cattle around that are hard to work with.”
The Kimms love the temperament of their Brown Swiss cows. The breed’s natural curiosity and friendly disposition make for the perfect fit at the farm.
“If you’re working on fixing the fence, the Holsteins will stand there and watch, the Guernseys come over and watch, while the Brown Swiss come over to help,” Brian said.
“The cattle love to come up and chew on your jacket and play with your tools,” she said.
Besides the Brown Swiss, the Kimms have experimented with crossing cattle to Montbéliarde and Holstein.
Brian’s breeding philosophy is to breed for a productive cow. He selects for a medium-sized frame, good udder, solid feet and legs and in the upper end with production.
Their ability to look to the future and problem solve has brought the next generation back to their farm; something the longtime dairy family is proud of.
As the industry changes and the next generation steps up to the plate, Brian looks to his experiences to give advice for other dairy farmers.
“If there is something you want to do, go ahead, do it, and don’t wait for the perfect time because there never will be one,” he said. “There is always a way to get it done if you look hard enough.”
The Kimms’ goal is to be profitable and self-sustaining in their own way, and with the Brown Swiss they are able to achieve that.
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