Family teamwork is key to Borst Family Dairy

The family, which sells their milk to AMPI, milks around 230 Holstein cows and have a small feedlot where they finish steers.

Kevin Borst works on a robot feeder in the barn at Borst Family Dairy on Jan. 31, 2023, in Rochester, Minnesota.
Noah Fish / Agweek

ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Borst Family Dairy began in 1946, milking 20 cows in a stanchion barn.

Now the the fourth generation is helping run the family farm, which is one of the only dairies still operating in the city of Rochester.

"It's where we've always been, and it's nice being 10 minutes from anything you need but still being in the country," said Kevin Borst. "It's a good balance."

Kevin Borst said the farm is a partnership between him, his dad, uncle and his younger brother. They milk around 230 Holstein cows and have a small feedlot where they finish steers. They also raise over 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and peas. AMPI has bought the farm's milk since back in the '40s when it first started operating.

"Everybody's born here," said Borst. "And we raise them all the way through their whole life."


He said the cows start in hutches where they are paired together, and as they get older, they move into bigger groups.

"And then in about two years, they calve, and then come down here to milk," he said of the barn, which was built in 1993.

The cows are able to relax for most of the day, which Borst said they prefer.

"On average, they lay down 12-14 hours a day, so that surprises a lot of people that they love to do that much laying and sleeping," he said. "They get milked, and then they eat and drink and want to sleep and lay down."

He said that's been the recipe for success for the cows on their farm.

"When you give them that time to lie down, they're healthy, and they produce well," he said.

Borst cows frame.jpg
Cows at Borst Family Dairy on Jan. 31, 2023 in Rochester, Minnesota.
Noah Fish / Agweek

On days like Jan. 31, when temperatures were below 10 degrees, Borst said the routine of the cows changes up a bit.

"Cows like it colder than humans," he said. "But even this below zero is a little cold for them."


Borst said the cows will eat more when the temperature drops in the coldest months of the year.

"They're basically like walking heaters, just with all there with their rumen, and all they eat," said Borst. "So they'll eat a little more, and when they lay down, they retain their heat better."

Family is key

Kevin and his brother grew up on the dairy and have been helping operate it since they were young.

"We always helped out and had chores ready to do when we were little, but there was no forcing or expectations that we had to do it," said Borst. "It's just what we ended up wanting to do."

Borst said the key to their long success is that they work well together as a family.

"We all kind of do everything together, but we also have kind of our own paths that we are in charge of," said Borst.

His brother, Kyle, and uncle, Larry, run the crop and equipment side, he said.

"They're in charge of a lot of the crop decisions, and they make the mix of feed for the cows," said Borst.


Kevin Borst and his dad, Matt, handle the cow side of the operation. But the two sides of the farm go together.

"We all work together on lots of things every day," he said.

Noah Fish is a multimedia journalist who creates print, online and TV content for Agweek. He's also the host of the Agweek Podcast. He covers a wide range of farmers and agribusinesses throughout Minnesota and surrounding states. He can be reached at

He reports out of Rochester, MN, where he lives with his wife, Kara, and their polite cat, Zena. He grew up in La Crosse, WI, and enjoys the talent from his home state like the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers and Grammy award-winning musicians Justin Vernon and Al Jarreau.
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