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Death of the Dairy: Part 2

By: Joe Brown
By: Joe Brown

It's a one-of-a-kind sound, unmistakable to dairy farmers past and present: the rhythmic tune of milking time, a sweet song to dairymen, but one rarely heard anymore in the Brazos Valley.

But in world that's seemed to pass by the family dairy, the Liere Dairy in Franklin is the exception. In fact, finding ways to beat the odds is nothing new to them.

"We've kind of got our own little niche here," said David Liere, a second-generation dairy owner. "We found a way to keep profitability going like that. We raise all our calves and raise our feed to to keep our feed costs low."

The ability to adapt is one reason the Liere Dairy has survived. But the real secret to their success is actually no secret at all. It's the same formula that made dairies successful years ago.

It's called family.

"We're just proud my grandsons are taking over, my son's taking over and picking up and going on," said Johnnie Liere, the first in the line of Liere dairy owners.

"Some of it's just genetic, too," David said. "I think it's because if your dad was a dairy farmer, he had to work hard. And he kind of passes it on and you learn how to work hard and you learn how to work for a long time."

"This is what I like to do and it's what I know how to do, so this is what I like to do," said David Liere, the third generation.

Daniel and younger brother, Douglass, are the sons of David and Debbie, and the future of Liere Dairy. Both boys are Texas A&M graduates with degrees in Dairy Science. Returning to the family dairy wasn't what they had to do, it was what they wanted to do.

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"On my day off, most the time, I'd rather be up here doing something than doing anything else," said David, "so I like what I do and hopefully I will do it forever if I can."

For Douglas, another of the third generation, it was just a natural continuation of a lifestyle he's loved since childhood.

"Every morning, we'd come up to the barn," Douglas remembers. "We had to flush the floors. We had a bunch of water and we'd get the skateboard and ride that water down. It was recycled water, but it was like you were surfing. Those are good memories."

Today, the Liere Dairy milks close to 500 cows in five shifts. Total milking time: 21 hours each day. Managing a dairy farm is time-consuming, back-breaking, sometimes frustrating hard work. But to the Liere family, there's nothing else they'd rather do, and there's no regrets.

"No, I think we'd do it the same," said David. "Because not only the two boys, I have a daughter too. And I can see it in her look when she tells the kids she grew up on a dairy farm and she's proud of that."

All of the Lieres not only work on the family dairy, they all live there, too. When asked if there'll be a fourth generation of Liere dairy owners, both Daniel and Douglas said that will be up to their children.


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