ROCHESTER, Minn. – Caring for livestock is what the Borst family knows best, and doing so with the utmost attention to detail has garnered them national recognition.
Borst Family Dairy LLC was recognized as a winner of the inaugural National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management program’s Excellence Award for Animal Care and Antibiotic Stewardship Nov. 16 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“We’ve always felt that it’s a privilege not a right to produce milk and beef,” said Dr. Lindsey Borst. “Prioritizing animal care every day is a necessity in order to keep that privilege.”
Borst and her husband, Kevin, accepted the award on behalf of those who make up the dairy – dad Matt, uncle Larry and brother Kyle. The honor recognized the Borsts’ commitment to the FARM program.
“As a veterinarian, I’ve always had a passion for producing safe food and using antibiotics responsibly,” Borst said. “We have a lot of extra steps in place on our farm to make sure any food product or cull animal leaving our farm is safe for human consumption. I think being recognized for animal care and antibiotic stewardship validates our social license to care for animals and produce food for a living.”
This fourth-generation dairy farm family milks 230 registered Holsteins in a double-10 herringbone parlor near Rochester. They raise all their youngstock, finish out steers and run over 1,000 acres of corn, alfalfa and soybean.
On the farm, Larry and Kyle are the crop experts and do all the feeding. Matt is the parlor and employee manager, and his wife, Julie, does all the accounting for the farm. Kevin manages the animals, and Borst is the herd’s veterinarian. They also have 6 part-time employees who milk, clean the barn, water calves and clean calf feeding equipment.
“Everyone pitches in where needed,” Borst said.
Ever since Borst graduated from veterinary school at the University of Minnesota in 2015, the dairy has had protocols for treatments, procedures, the milking parlor and on-farm euthanasia. The last couple years, they have also used these protocols to develop training materials for employees.
“Having a veterinarian in the family probably brings the amount of veterinary oversight up a notch,” Borst said.
On the farm, Borst monitors performance, disease incidence and recorded treatments regularly. They also work with Associated Milk Producers Inc., which provides guidance for compliance with the FARM program.
“It’s really nice to have a supportive processor,” Borst said.
The family provides animal care by keeping feed in front of animals, and water and bedding clean. They also follow strict protocols for pain management, down cows and euthanasia in addition to providing training for employees on the first day of employment.
“Proper cattle handling helps to show employees how important animal welfare is to us and we expect it to be to them as well,” Borst said.
The Borsts also keep records of treatments, follow treatment protocols based on physical exams of sick animals and monitor disease incidence to make sure the antibiotics used are working.
“Taking good care of our cows is also just good business,” Borst said. “Exceptional animal care will naturally lead to good production.”
The protocols are kept in a binder in the office. And, they also have protocols posted in various places, such as their milking procedures in the parlor.
“We have written protocols for almost any process you can think of at the farm,” Borst said.
While the process is lengthy and sometimes cumbersome, the Borsts find the value of having protocols and treatment records up to date worthwhile.
“It could potentially save you from having a drug residue, help identify a health issue before it gets out of hand or find a way to save some money on a farm,” Borst said. “Don’t let the extra things that are asked of dairy farmers be a burden. Embrace and use them to make your farm business better.”
The national recognition was a surprise for the Borsts and a meaningful one too.
“Getting the award was very meaningful for both our farm and AMPI,” Borst said. “Sara Schmitt nominated us and did a lot of work on the nomination. She tragically passed away before we were announced as winners. It made (getting the award) extra special because we were able to be part of a project that meant a lot to her.”
Borst hopes this award will speak to their continued commitment to keeping cows comfortable and healthy.
“It’s very humbling to be recognized for something like animal care,” Borst said. “We take a lot of pride in paying attention to small details when it comes to making our animals comfortable.”
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