Growing up on her family’s small hobby farm, Lindsey Borst developed a love of caring for animals of all types. However, it wasn’t until she married her husband, Kevin, that her passion for dairy farming and its way of life fully ignited.
Borst Family Dairy of Rochester, Minnesota, was started in 1946. At the time, Kevin’s grandpa and great-grandpa milked 20 cows in a stanchion barn. As the fourth generation on the family farm, Lindsey and Kevin work in partnership with Kevin’s brother, Kyle, his dad, Matt, and his uncle, Larry. Together the family works to milk 230 Holstein cows, and they grow 1,100 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. “The dairy farming operation truly is a team effort,” says Borst.
Despite having not been raised on a dairy farm, Borst enjoys helping in any way. Borst says, “I do not work full-time on the dairy farm, as I am a veterinarian. However, I do all of the farm’s veterinarian work and have even started working on calf and heifer nutrition through Purina.”
Growing up without dairy right outside her door has also given Borst a unique perspective. Borst explains, “It has been easier to explain things to consumers as I also did not have much knowledge on how a dairy farm was run before.”
In an era full of choices, Borst believes one of the dairy community’s most significant challenges is balancing what is economical on the farm and keeping consumers happy and aware of where their food comes from. Over the past two summers, Borst has attended the Dairy Experience Forum organized by Midwest Dairy. The highlight of the conference for her has been the consumer focus panel. “It opens your eyes to how far removed most consumers are from agriculture, and it also gives us insight into what they think about how we farm. By getting in their minds, it helps us tell our story in a way that makes more sense to them,” shares Borst.
To combat the disconnect between farmers and consumers, Borst has turned to social media. Borst Family Dairy is active on Facebook and Instagram. “We post everyday things sharing an educational tidbit of how cows are treated and why we do what we do, but we also like to keep it light-hearted and interesting,” Borst explains.
When Borst and her family are not busy on the farm, they can often be found helping in the community. Kevin serves on the local county Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA) board, and Lindsey is involved on the Southeast Minnesota Dairy Initiative board. The family also has a long tradition of actively participating in 4-H. According to Borst, “It is important to give back to the community, and for farmers to have a presence. Agriculture is an essential economic aspect within communities, and farmers need to show their faces.”
At the end of the day, Borst is thankful for her opportunity to work within agriculture, and specifically dairy farming, because it gives her a sense of purpose, knowing she is helping to feed others. “We do everything for a reason, and our cows’ and land’s best interest is always our top priority. If it were not the longevity of our family’s business, our way of life would not be there.”
*Photos featured in this article were taken prior to March 2020 before mandatory mask/social distancing mandates were implemented.