With celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal famously named after the service station on the M4, new farm manager Breiffni Daly is in good company, for he was named after a famous sports stadium in Ireland.
“My parents really loved their sport,” he laughs, “although everyone knows me as Bref.”
While Bref maybe ‘new’ to the role, he’s not new to Sansaw.
“I spent the best four years of my life here from 2012 to 2016,” he remembers fondly. “I rose through the ranks, starting off as farm assistant and eventually becoming second-in-command. But I always wanted the top job so when the opportunity arose to return I absolutely jumped at it.”
Bref knows the industry inside out, and was on the ground when the plans for Sansaw’s impressive dairy unit were drawn up and implemented.
“I was involved in commissioning the rotary back in 2013 so it’s great to return and see everything working so well. Obviously a fair few things have changed too, and there’s some impressive technology in operation which really enables us to manage the herd efficiently. We know everything about the cows now and this data is so important to us.”
Farming all of his adult life, and most of his childhood too, Bref was born and raised in Cork, southern Ireland. He went to agricultural college at home and then spent his placement year in New Zealand, getting to know the grass-based system the country has become so famous for. And which Sansaw employs too.
“It was an amazing country to be in and what they didn’t know about grass wasn’t worth knowing,” he said. “The attention to detail was incredible and their scientific approach to grass management was fascinating. I learned so much from my time there.”
But it wasn’t all rosy; based in Christchurch, Bref was on the farm when the devastating earthquake struck the city, reducing most of it to rubble.
“It was a surreal time to be honest but the city has recovered well and they still seem to lead the way when it comes to dairy production.”
It’s something he knows Sansaw can challenge.
“The commitment from James to best practice is second-to-none,” he explained. “That’s another reason why I wanted to come back, to help him continue to build a respected and world-leading dairy unit.
“I’m 32 now and this is the sort of challenge I’m ready for. There are some brilliant people working at Sansaw and the sky really is the limit.”
Away from the farm, which admittedly isn’t very often, Bref is an ardent Man United supporter and still loves his rugby.
“It’s difficult to keep me away from the sports channels when I’m back in the evening,” he smiles. “And to be fair I’ve been given a fabulous welcome from all the staff, including some of the guys who are still here from my time before, so I feel very much at home.”