Top sheep industry leaders celebrated

The sheep industry celebrated its top performers last night in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill.

This is the fourth year the awards have been held and B+LNZ chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said the awards night was a wonderful way to showcase the sheep industry – a major contributor to the New Zealand economy.

“The industry has and continues to make huge progress – for instance, while the number of sheep has halved in the last 25 years, lamb production has only fallen by seven per cent. Improved genetics is part of this fabulous productivity improvement story and tonight’s winners are leading the way in sheep genetics.”

The top sheep industry winners in 2015 were:

  • Blackdale Stud Sheep Industry Supplier of the Year – Horizon Farming Limited, Waipukurau – Horizon Farming Limited was commended by processors, Progressive Meats Ltd, for excellent on-farm practices and pushing the boundaries to enhance their systems and produce higher quality stock. Judges noted how Horizon Farming Limited is fully engaged in the value chain with their processor, understanding the market complexities post farm gate exceptionally well and producing a product fit for purpose. They have defended their Hawke’s Bay Lamb Supplier of the Year title for a second time, giving Horizon Farming three consecutive titles.
  • Focus Genetics Sheep Industry Science Award – John McEwan, AgResearch, Invermay
    John McEwan was born into the sheep industry; his family developing one of the earliest registered Romney flocks. He has been at the forefront of sheep genetics in New Zealand for over 30 years and instrumental in the setting up of the SIL-ACE genetic evaluations and the Central Progeny Test. John has a particular interest in parasite resistance traits and, liking the challenge of ‘difficult-to-measure’ traits, is currently researching the genetics of methane emissions. The judges said his work has covered a broad range of genetic fields contributing widely to farmers’ productivity gains.
  • Primary ITO Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year – Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust, Gisborne – Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust has an enviable 100 percent graduation record. All graduating cadets from the last two years have gone on into farm employment, realising Waipaoa’s aim of producing ‘work ready’ graduates. Judges particularly noted Waipaoa’s philosophy of training highly motivated young people through the traditional values of respect, discipline, personal growth and team work, fulfilling its vision to provide “New Zealand’s best pastoral sheep and beef training.”
  • Farmlands Co-operative Individual or Business making a significant contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry – Errol Holgate (posthumously), Dunedin – Errol Holgate inspired generations of farmers to achieve higher standards. He was involved early on with the Texel Society and provided the Texel component in the Highlander maternal composite breed. Errol was also a founding shareholder in Headwaters NZ, and a highly respected judge of stock, with years of selection having a significant impact on the national flock. Off-farm, Errol influenced many industry-good organisations through his innate ability to communicate appropriately in any situation. The judges were particularly impressed by the range of Errol’s contributions to the New Zealand sheep industry, on so many levels.
  • Allflex New Zealand Sheep Industry Innovation award – Matt and Lynley Wyeth, Masterton – Matt and Lynley Wyeth are not followers of fashion, and couldn’t accept the increased attrition rates seen with higher lambing percentages. Lamb survival is important to them ethically and commercially, leading them to implement lambing systems not seen before on a commercial scale in New Zealand. Their latest initiative, the ‘Back Paddock’ Facebook page, comes from a passion to bridge the urban/ rural divide. The judges were impressed by the number of innovations of benefit to today’s sheep industry Matt and Lynley have introduced or further developed.
  • Ballance Agri-Nutrients Sheep Industry Emerging Talent award – Hamish Bielski, Clinton – Hamish Bielski shows an ongoing commitment to self- improvement and participation in the sheep industry. With farm ownership their goal, Hamish, and wife Amy, are equity partners on a 300 hectare property in South Otago. Hamish also gives energy and passion to industry development through his contributions beyond the farm gate. He is deputy chair of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Southern South Island Farmer Council and the Southern Texel Society. The judges were impressed by the way Hamish has been making his mark throughout his career, both on the land and through industry governance and direction.
  • New Zealand Sheep Industry Lifetime Achievement Award – Holmes Warren, Featherston – Holmes Warren is described as the father of the modern Romney, base of the New Zealand flock. In the 1960s when others bred for wool, Holmes Warren was breeding for twinning and easy-care lambing. He was a shrewd observer of stock and a man ahead of his time. In 1970, Holmes started the Wairarapa Romney Improvement Group with John Daniell. The group is still active, through second and third generation members, so, as the judges remarked, Holmes’ work continues to have a strong influence on today’s national flock.

The 2015 B+LNZ Genetics Awards were also presented to:

  • SIL-ACE Terminal Sire for Lamb Growth – Huirimu Lamb Supreme, Focus Genetics, Peter Strawbridge, Rotorua
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Reproduction – Nithdale Romney, Nithdale Station, Andrew and Heather Tripp, Gore
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Growth Efficiency – Blackdale Coopworth, Blackdale Stud, Peter and Marion Black, Riverton
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Meat Yield award – Rawahi Romney, Richard & Nicky Warren, Featherston
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Facial Eczema Tolerance – MNCC Coopworth, Edward Dinger, Cambridge
  • SIL-ACE Dual Purpose for Internal Parasite Resistance – Nithdale Romney, Nithdale Station, Andrew and Heather Tripp, Gore
  • Primary Wool Co-operative Dual Purpose for Wool – Blackdale Coopworth, Blackdale Stud, Peter and Marion Black, Riverton
  • AbacusBio Terminal Sire for Meat Yield – Kepler Supreme, Focus Genetics, Travis Leslie, Te Anau
  • Alliance Group Terminal Sire Gold Award for Lamb Growth & Meat Yield – Huirimu Lamb Supreme, Focus Genetics, Peter Strawbridge, Rotorua
  • B+LNZ Genetics Dual Purpose Gold Award for Reproduction, Lamb Growth plus Adult Size and Wool Production – Blackdale Coopworth, Blackdale Stud, Peter and Marion Black, Riverton

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