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  • Norfolk Farms

Ryan Heeg Found His Calling In Farming

Updated: Jun 28

We can only hope that, in our working lives, we find a job or profession that we are compassionate about and love doing.

Group shot of the Heeg Family
The Heeg Clan

We can only hope that, in our working lives, we find a job or profession that we are compassionate about and love doing. That doesn’t always happen for many but for one local man he is ‘living the dream’. Ryan Heeg found his calling while still in school and has been pursuing his dream since then. From milking cows after school to helping on his Dad’s chicken farm Heeg developed a love of farming early in life. He grew up in the hamlet of Renton and began as a chicken and turkey farmer just outside of Waterford.

Before Heeg even married he had worked as a hired hand on a dairy farm and had even bought his own dairy farm in Brantford. When Ryan met and married his wife Lexi he knew he wanted to operate his own dairy farm, here in Norfolk County, but had to wait for five years before he could move his milk quota here from his Brantford operation. Heeg bought on Conc. 13, Townsend in 2021 and worked on a dairy farm as a hired hand until such time that he could move his milk quota over. Heeg’s barn was built first and their house was purchased about a year later. By Sept. 2022 Heeg could officially start milking here with only about 2 months to get things up and running.

Family standing in a barn with their cattle
Ryan &Lexi Heeg with their sons Seth & Bowen

Heeg’s farm was 55 acres of bare land when he purchased it and built the free style barn. Heeg put younger cows here and his Grandpa and brother helped feed them until he could move the other cattle over from Brantford. “There were lots of ups and downs for about 1 ½ to 2 years and lots of labour seven days a week. I was getting burned out but I haven’t looked back”.

Heeg’s barn is what you call ‘free stall’ and uses the Parlour milking system. The milking cows have a collar on their neck with an ID # that identifies each cow. Each cow must have 1 calf before they can give milk. When they are ready to produce, they are introduced  to the milking system The cows sense when it is time to be milked and they will enter the stall on their own. Once in there the milking machine does the rest. Heeg adds there are brushes that clean the udders pre milking and an iodine wash after they are done. All in all, the entire milking process takes about 4 to 7 minutes per cow. The tank will hold 2,000gallons of milk. “It’s definitely crazy technology” adds Heeg but it is a labor and time saver for him. “There’s no more of having to get up at 4:00 am and no having to miss parties”.

The barn is 122’ wide and 220’ long with the milk house, milk tank and offices occupying an area 40’ X 40’. There is also an area for hay storage of 60’X100’. The free stall barn gives the cows some freedom, per say, and they do not have to be tied down. They are fed hay, corn silage and alfalfa that is grown by Heeg and mixed by him as well. “You have to have the right balance for feed”.

“I like the lifestyle “adds Heeg. “I’m here for the kids and they love being out at the barn They would be out there all day if they could”. Heeg does like the flexibility the new barn offers him. ”I like to help other people as well and I have some flexibility to do that”. While Heeg admits his farming operation is a long time investment it is one that he is certainly glad he made.

Having great family support has helped Heeg build his dream and live it every day and the support he receives from them has been overwhelming. They say ‘It takes a village’ and Heeg and the success of his farm are proof of that.  

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