David and Mavis Bennett, sheep farm managers for ANZCO Foods-owned Longburn Stud in mid-Canterbury are the global winners of the recently-announced 2017 Waitrose Farm Partnership, Innovation Award.
David Bennett said he and his wife “felt humbled” by the award from the sophisticated 352 store UK retailer.
Waitrose and ANZCO talked together of producing a superior product, he says. The focus of the stud is on producing lamb that meets Waitrose requirements – as determined by the company’s customers. Its programme involves artificially inseminating ewes with semen from superior rams brought into the stud for use, CT scanning for meat and fat yield to identify the top rams, and a progeny test on- and off-farm to identify top performing rams. It also involves new innovations in predicting tenderness in live animals and eating quality as well.
“All are aimed to produce a superior product for the consumer,” he explains.
“In dollar terms, there’s been an $11/head increase in the value of progeny over the period of when the stock were here, that’s two and a half times the national average for terminal sire ram-breeders recorded on the Sheep Improvement Ltd (SIL) database in New Zealand.”
Congratulating the couple, ANZCO’s Longdown programme manager Julia Galwey, says the couple have “proven excellent to work with”.
“Their excellence in animal husbandry, along with their willingness to take on the new technology that we throw at them and the innovations we use to work on improving the genetic gain both in on-farm performance of the rams and the eating quality traits that we’re working on.”
This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (December 2017/January 2018) and is reproduced here with permission.