September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Dairy Profile: The Timms
Plainview, Minn.; Winona County, 94 cows
How did you get into farming? Duane: I grew up on the dairy farm that we purchased from my parents in 1999. Karen: I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls majoring in dairy science. After graduation, I moved to Plainview where I met Duane.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced since you started dairying and how did you overcome it? There have been several, but one of significance would be our somatic cell count. After moving into our freestall barn, it increased. We switched from chopped straw to sawdust and eventually to lime bedding. We use a product called Sanibed on the stalls to keep them dry. We use orbeseal at dry off and changed a few milking procedures. We went to a three-inch vacuum line and changed milking units. We also went to a barrier teat dip in the summer months.
What are some of your thoughts or concerns about your dairy or the dairy industry this year? Duane: The low milk price and the high costs of inputs are a huge concern. Karen: My biggest concern would be the low milk price and the loss of equity that goes with it. It takes a long time with milk prices at $15 to $16 per cwt to recover from $9 milk.
What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Duane: Be comfortable with your own goals. Don't be afraid to follow your "gut feeling." You probably know more than you think you do! Karen: Pay attention to the details. Fine-tuning the small things can make a huge difference.
What is the biggest investment you ever made in your dairy? Our largest investment other than the farms themselves would be our freestall barn that we built in the fall of 1999.
What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Raising four children that are involved in our family dairy operation. Although they are all in school (with the oldest a freshman at UW-RF) they are all great help.
What are your plans for your dairy in the next five years? We would like to replace our flat barn parlor with a pit parlor. We need to find ways to save time since labor is an issue. We have no plans to expand, but need to lessen the time we spend milking so we can get in the fields and spend time with our family.
What is your favorite thing to do on the farm? Duane: Spring and fall fieldwork. Karen: I like milking. I find it relaxing.
What is your favorite dish using a dairy product? Duane: Pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. Karen: Lasagna
What is your favorite tool? Duane: My pocket knife. I come up with a lot of uses for it. Karen: My computer.
Tell us about a skill you possess that has made dairy farming easier for you. Duane: I'm a "doer" kind of person. If something needs to be done I can initiate getting it done. Also, Karen and I have a working relationship that works extremely well. Karen: I can usually spot a sick cow as soon as she walks in the milking area. Perhaps that just comes from spending so much time with them. Also the fact that Duane and I work so well together is a huge factor. It makes our job easier and more enjoyable.
How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? Duane: I like to take the four-wheeler and check crops. Also doing anything as a family such as playing sports or hiking in the woods. Karen: I like to garden, walk, read and watch our children's sports events. As a family we like to swim, fish and participate in 4-H, especially showing cattle at the fair.
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