Michael Bray is one of the young generation of Guernsey farmers bringing innovation and business acumen that he developed working in farming in New Zealand and the UK.
Unlike many of our farms, les Jaonnets wasn't in the Bray family generations before. When Michael returned from his travels, he put a notice in the local paper to look for farms for sale and in no time, he and his wife Susie were taking over the reins at Les Jaonnets Farm.
Former owners, Bonamy and Margaret Martel were nearing retirement and although the farm had been in their family for generations there was no obvious successor. The Martel family hold a proud Guernsey farming dynasty so Michael had a lot to live up to; their pedigree Guernsey herd was once ranked the highest in the UK for their milk yield.
"My wife, Susie and I took over Les Jaonnets Farm in 2012. We bought all the cows and machinery from the Martels" said Michael.
The Farm is 100 verges, consisting of 55 fields and they also rent a further 440 vergees elsewhere across the island, which they use to graze their herd and grow their grass and maize silage.
Since taking it on, the herd has increased in size to 130 cows and the Dairy receive 720,000 litres a year from the Farm. The growth of their farm is thanks to the innovative thinking Michael has applied to it.
As soon as Michael took over, he laid AstroTurf and permanent electric fencing and installed water troughs to allow rotational grazing so the cows could graze freshly every 12 hours in summer and 24 hours at the shoulders of the season which improved the quality of their diet.
The cows are also now housed from late November to early March.
Michael has employed the expertise of a grassland specialist to re-seed the whole farm with a mixture of high grazing tolerance grass. It produces higher protein grass which is ideal for their wintered bulling heifers who now come through the winter in much better condition. The new grass mix has also given a bounty of feed for his cows and withstands drier drought conditions, which is important during Guernsey's often arid summers.
"We are here to stay and that is why I am investing in all the new infrastructure. By taking these changes we are prepared for a healthy long term future outlook for Les Jaonnets Farm."