Excellence and innovation celebrated in 2013 NZ Sheep Industry awards

Over 300 gathered in Invercargill last night to celebrate excellence and innovation in the New Zealand sheep industry at the second annual Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards. Congratulations to all of the winners and the finalists for being part of a world-beating national team.

Congratulations to Alliance Group which came away with Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Sheep Industry Innovation Award for its long history of building on incremental innovations at every level of the value chain. Eleven years ago, the company initiated the Central Progeny Test (CPT). Today, the test supports the powerful across-breed comparison SIL-ACE and is recognised as making a significant contribution to the industry’s huge genetic gains during the past decade. Allance Group introduced ‘Market Choice’ in 2002 – an industry-first carcase quality-based payment system – and the associated 2-D imaging system, VIAScan. More recently, it co-developed an environmental and farm performance benchmarking project ‘Hoofprint’.

Hugh and Judy Akers of Broadlands Station were triumphant in the Blackdale Sheep Industry Supplier of the Year category. The station has been a consistently high performing supplier for some time. It was the inaugural national winner of the Waitrose Supplier of the Year award and has twice featured in the top five suppliers for the North Island during the past seven seasons. Broadlands Station’s contract hit rate was 90.4 percent and 92.2 percent for 2011/2012 and 2010/2011 respectively. It consistently demonstrates a committed focus to meeting market requirements, through on-farm best practice.

The Silver Fern Farms Sheep Industry Science Award went to Dr George Davis for his contribution to New Zealand’s significant profile in sheep genomics research. Dr Davis was a pioneer in the field of new technologies that saw animals selected using laboratory-based genetics diagnosis. The judges noted that he discovered the Inverdale X-linked fecundity gene and has contributed more than anyone else to the breeding, international supply and pioneering research on the Booroola fecundity gene. He has more than 100 scientific papers to his name and has guided many eager young scientists through their early careers. Other finalists acknowledged at the awards were Drs Chris Morris and Neale Towers and Dr Neville Jopson.

Other Industry Awards went to:

  • AGITO Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year – Kevin Smith, manager for corporate farmer Greenfields Rural.
  • Allflex Individual or Business Making a Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry – Clare Callow, general manager, New Zealand Animal Breeding Trust.

B+LNZ chairman Mike Petersen says it is great to see the sector embrace the awards so enthusiastically. “Last year’s awards were the result of a great idea from within the Southern South Island Farmer Council. We thought it was important to carry on celebrating the outstanding progress by breeders and commercial farmers in pursuit of sector excellence in the sheep industry.”

However, B+LNZ didn’t predict just how popular the awards would be, he carried on. “The awards have been calculated using the results from B+LNZ”s SIL-ACE evaluation. SIL-ACE is all about breeding for profitable traits and this work is the envy of sheep breeders around the world. It is fantastic to see so many of our top breeders jostling for these awards.”

Judging of the genetics-based awards was simplified this year and made on the basis of individual animals with the highest rating or index. For each of the 10 categories, the top three rams were identified using results from the SIL-ACE evaluation and SIL standard indexes. Animal had to be in the top 25 percent for a ‘basket of industry valued traits’ and have a top ranking for the highlighted trait, as well as minimum levels of accuracy for these ratings. The awards are presented to the breeders of these animals.

Genetics-based gold awards went to:

  • Alliance Group Ltd Terminal Sire OverallTamlet, Texel – George and Kathryn Smith.
  • Telford – a Division of Lincoln University Dual Purpose Overall MNCC (Coopworth), Edward Dinger.
  • SIL-ACE Terminal Sire for Meat Yield Kepler Farm, Lamb Supreme – Focus Genetics.
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Meat Yield Orari Gorge (Romney), Robert Peacock
  • SIL-ACE Terminal Sire for Lamb Growth Mount Linton (Suftext), Hamish Bielski.
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Growth: Lamb Production & Adult SizeTwin Farm (TEFRom), Russell and Pam Welsh.
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Reproduction Nithdale (Romney), Andrew and Heather Tripp
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Wool Blackdale (Coopworth), Peter and Marion Black
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Internal Parasite Resistance Nithdale (Romney), Andrew and Heather Tripp.
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Facial Eczema Tolerance ARDG Makino (Romney), Ross and Gilly Alexander.

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