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On the farm

First generation dairy farmer

Young dairy farmer thrives thanks to new entrant program

Many of us spend our entire life wondering what we will be when we grow up. Not Owen Fijala, though. The young man from Manitou loves rural life and all that it affords.

He knew early on that agriculture was his life’s calling. However, which area of the industry did not become clear until his teenage years.

He grew up working on the family grain farm before he ventured out as a teen at a neighbouring cattle farm. Following this, his third agricultural experience proved lucky as he began to work at a nearby dairy farm in Notre Dame at just 16. He immediately fell in love with the animals and the work.

“I just enjoyed it right from the beginning and continued to enjoy it more and more,” says Fijala, now 20. “It is very challenging and interesting to continue to learn about herd health.”

It did not take long for Fijala to begin to aspire to have a dairy farm of his own. Luckily, Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (DFM) is keen to invest in those interested in pursuing dairy farming. Fijala applied to DFM’s new entrant program in the fall of 2017, a springboard to help Manitobans become part of the dairy industry. Fijala proved to the board of directors why he would be a great candidate to begin a dairy farm, and it did not take long for the board to sense his passion and green light the application and thorough business plan.

To help him as he began his journey into dairy farming, DFM matched his milk production allocation.

Fijala now has 55 cows on his farm, which are a mixture of young and mature. Today, his cows all produce milk on a predictable, routine schedule.

For Fijala, working on his dairy farm and helping with his family’s grain farm keeps the young entrepreneur busy from dawn ‘til dusk. The barn itself is also high-tech, as cows are milked in an automated system, which allows cows to come and go to the milking station as they please.

Fijala has long-term plans to double the size of his herd and add a second automated milking system.

He enjoys being in the community, as well, and recently participated in the Agriculture in the Classroom – Manitoba program, where he spoke with children at the Manitou Elementary School about dairy farms.

“I got to go in and talk to all the students about how the operations work and how cows are taken care of and the quality of milk,” he says.

Thanks to the new entrant program, Fijala is excited to be part of an industry that places a high priority on animal care and producing high quality milk for Canadians.

On the farm