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Three Generations Growing Together on a Nebraska Dairy Farm

October 2015 | Nebraska | 0 comments

Temme Family

Three generations of the Temme family work together on their Nebraska dairy farm, focusing on cow comfort and sustainability on the farm.

For more than 60 years, members of John Temme’s family have been milking cows on their dairy farm near Wayne, Neb. When John made the decision to return to the farm after college, his parents and grandparents were excited to have the fourth generation involved in the family business, but they also knew it would require careful planning, communications and investment.

Fritz and Joanne Temme began milking cows on the farm in the 1950s and their son Doug and his wife Mary started farming in the 1980s. John joined Temme Dairy in 2009, then met and married his wife Molly a few years later.

“When Dad and Grandpa were interested in expanding the dairy so I could join the farm, it was an easy decision,” said John. “I wanted to be a part of growing what they started.”

At the time, the Temmes were milking about 250 cows. They built a plan for the farm that would not only add buildings and increase the milking herd, but also improve how they cared for their cows and land.

The family built a new freestall barn in 2009. The barn is where cows spend the majority of their time eating, drinking and resting in between milkings, so the Temmes looked for new technologies and designs that would make the cows as comfortable as possible. A wall of evaporative cooling cells helps maintain a constant temperature, and larger stalls provide more room for cows to rest on sand bedding.

The new barn and other improvements have allowed the Temmes to increase their milking herd to 750 cows. They plan to break ground on a new milking parlor in the fall.

Planning for growth goes beyond barns and buildings, though. Even more important for the Temmes was building a foundation for family members and farm employees to communicate and work together.

“Sometimes senior advisors can advise too much. When Doug took on a full-time role at the dairy, his father tried to give advice and counsel, then let Doug make the final decision,” said Mary Temme. “We try to do the same thing with John taking over leadership. It is important to give him real responsibilities and decisions to make.”

They’ve also worked to identify specific responsibilities for family members and employees. Doug focuses on the crop farming, raising corn and alfalfa on about 1,100 acres, which is used to feed the dairy cows, calves and heifers. John serves as the manager of the dairy, working with 13 employees to feed, milk and care for the cows. He also built and manages the calf ranch, where female calves, or heifers, are raised until they are two months old, then move back to the dairy to grow and mature until they can join the milking herd.

“As we’ve grown, we’ve had to learn new skills as managers and spend more time communicating with each other and our employees,” said Mary. “We’ve been able to make our farm more sustainable to make sure it will be here for generations to come.”

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