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Brazilian nuts for sheep

Dayanne Almeida and her working dog team. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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From the urban jungle of Sao Paulo to the back blocks near Masterton, Brazilian-born Dayanne Almeida is living her dream on a sheep stud out Bideford way.

She’s overcome many challenges, including learning English, to live out her farming dream at Wairere Rams.

Knowing only Portuguese, she learnt English through watching children’s movies like the Lion King while on the job.

“You know the story, they speak slower, no slang, that sort of stuff, so I was watching Disney movies for quite some time,” she said with a laugh.

It was Almeida’s love of sheep which brought her to rural New Zealand.

“I just love sheep, I absolutely love them,” she said.

She said it was an amazing opportunity.

“[I] work with animals and their figures.

“If I’d stayed in my country, I wouldn’t have this sort of opportunity – that’s why I give my 200 per cent.”

That passion is being fostered by Derek Daniell, the owner of Wairere Rams, a stud near Bideford.

“She really is passionate about sheep,” Daniell said.

“She wanted to make sheep farming more successful in South America, and Brazil in particular.

“So, I thought, let’s work together on that.”

After employing Almeida as a shepherd, he soon realised she was working on her Master of Agricultural Science in the evenings. So he offered to help ease the workload by merging her farm work with university work.

Almeida now works in research and development, using the genetic data from years of Wairere breeding records to better understand body condition scores in ewes and what traits to breed in the next generation.

Her strong work ethic has also impressed Wairere Rams business manager Simon Buckley.

“The determination and the fearlessness of going to a foreign country, to do something you’ve never done before, without speaking the language – I really admire that,” he said. “It’s a brave thing to do.”

Almeida is the focus of this week’s Hyundai Country Calendar episode which airs on TV1 Sunday night at 7pm. It will also be available for viewing on demand at tvnz.co.nz/shows/country-calendar

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