Ben Temple, holding the Southdown lamb, and Bryan Temple work together in the show ring to exhibit their sheep. Starting with two ewes each, the young exhibitors have increased their flocks over the years, and today, Bryan manages a 45-ewe Montadale flock, while Ben’s Southdown ewe flock has grown to 25.
Ben Temple, holding the Southdown lamb, and Bryan Temple work together in the show ring to exhibit their sheep. Starting with two ewes each, the young exhibitors have increased their flocks over the years, and today, Bryan manages a 45-ewe Montadale flock, while Ben’s Southdown ewe flock has grown to 25.

SERENA, Ill. — Bryan and Ben Temple each started their sheep projects with two ewes.

“We got started with sheep through dad at a young age, and then our projects took off,” said Bryan Temple, who recently graduated from Serena High School. “Now my flock includes 45 Montadale ewes.”

Ben Temple, 15, also started with Montadale sheep, but switched to raising Southdowns, and he has grown his flock to 25 ewes.

“I wanted to show sheep that were smaller, and I got tired of competing against my brother,” he explained.

“My inspiration for Southdowns came from Mark Johnson, who is a Purina Honor Show Chow ambassador,” the high school sophomore said. “He taught us a lot about how to show and trim sheep.”

Some of Bryan Temple’s earliest memories of the sheep business include stomping wool during shearing day.

“One year, we lambed 150 ewes,” recalled the son of Brad and Kara Temple.

“The first year dad was elected to the state Farm Bureau board, I lambed out 100 ewes on my own,” he recalled. “I came home during lunch periods and study periods to check the ewes. Then dad sold most of his ewes.”

Brad Temple serves as the District 4 Director of the Illinois Farm Bureau.

The brothers, who are both 4-H members and Serena FFA Chapter members, travel to as many as six county fairs each year, the Illinois State Fair, the North American International Livestock Exposition and the All American Junior Sheep Show.

The All American show moves to different locations each year, and this year it is located at East Lansing, Mich., during the Fourth of July weekend. In addition to the shows, the event also features a lot of activities for the junior exhibitors.

“Of course, I like the showing, but I also enjoy the judging contest, skill-a-thon and the basketball games,” Ben Temple said.

The brothers usually show three to four sheep each for the national competitions and from six to 12 sheep each at the county fairs.

“One year, we took 24 or 25 head to the Kendall County Fair,” Bryan Temple noted.

“Last year was a very good year. I showed the champion ram over all breeds at the Sandwich Fair and the junior champion Montadale ram at Louisville,” the shepherd said.

“I love livestock and starting out with the lambs and seeing what they become,” he explained. “I like showing, but raising sheep is a lot more fun.”

“I’m just the opposite,” Ben Temple said. “I like showing the best and being with the sheep because each one has its own personality, plus I like to meet new people at the fairs.”

From his sheep project, he has learned the importance of responsibility since his flock relies on him for their feed and daily care.

“I like staying up late and being there when the new lambs are born,” he added.

“I’ve learned about judging livestock and how to pick out the good sheep,” Bryan Temple said. “I’ve also learned a lot about management decisions.”

In the past, the shepherds have sold sheep at sales. Today, however, they mostly sell their market lambs privately.

“We’ve also sold some breeding stock including ewes to Oregon,” Bryan Temple said.

In addition to his achievements in the show ring, he also has been honored with FFA awards for his sheep project.

At the recent Illinois FFA State Convention, he received his state farmer degree, as well as the state proficiency award in sheep production. In addition, he will be serving as the Section 7 president for the upcoming year.

“I really enjoy livestock judging, FFA record books and talking about my projects,” he said. “I love the chance to talk about farming. I could talk about farming all day.”

Attending the National FFA Convention was another highlight for Temple, as well as participating in the Washington Leadership Conference.

“I went to WLC last year, and that was my favorite thing I did during high school,” he said.

“I like livestock judging, and the 212 Conference was fun,” Ben Temple added.

This fall, Bryan Temple plans to attend Joliet Junior College and enroll in the ag transfer program. He is unsure which university he will attend to complete his bachelor’s degree.

“My goal is to come back home and farm,” he stressed. “All I want to do is farm.”

In addition to his flock, Bryan Temple also manages a mowing business that started before he could drive to the different towns. “My mom use to drive me around, and now I mow 18 yards,” he said.

Those lawns are located in Harding, Leland, Baker, Wedron and Serena. “On a good day I can get 12 done, and Ben helps me, too,” Temple said.